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Rise of the Guardians

Rise of the Guardians

Released 30 November 2012
Director Peter Ramsey

Chris Pine, Alec Baldwin, Hugh Jackman, Isla Fisher, Jude Law, Dakota Goyo
Writer(s) David Lindsay-Abaire

Nancy Bernstein, Christina Steinberg
Origin United States
Running Time  
Genre Animation, adventure, family
Rating G

Good Santa.

Lately, animated films have become more and more hyperactive; sugary explosions of retina-scorching colour, zany characters and irritating concessions to the pop cultural zeitgeist. Rise of the Guardians from director Peter Ramsey comes as something of a relief in this context. It certainly feels a lot different from DreamWorks’ most popular work. Less hyperactive than Madagascar and less knowing than Shrek, Rise of the Guardians feels almost quaint with its simple good-versus-evil storyline and  its refreshingly low amount of gimmickry.

The Guardians are figures of legend - Santa Claus (Alec Baldwin), the Easter Bunny (Hugh Jackman), the Tooth Fairy (Isla Fisher) and the mute Sandman, all charged with the responsibility to safeguard a sense of wonder in children worldwide. When the malevolent Pitch Black (the legendary Bogeyman, voiced by Jude Law) begins his plan to destroy the Guardians place in the world, a new hero is called upon - the initially reluctant Jack Frost (Chris Pine). As Black brings the world closer to darkness, the Guardians try to enlist Jack’s help to defeat him.

The first thing to say about Rise of the Guardians is that it’s a beautiful animated production. The design is impeccable, from the rich environments to the characters themselves, all of whom are appealingly eccentric in their appearance (particularly the tattooed, muscular Santa and the rotund, glittering Sandman). Throughout, the animation has an opulence about it that is a pleasure to watch and the 3D is subtle but effective. The voice acting is of a similar quality - Jude Law should be singled out here for the subtle menace he brings to Pitch Black.

The December release slot for the film is certainly appropriate, despite the fact that the action of the film takes place around Easter. The Christmas season is a hive of nostalgia and that’s part of the reason I enjoyed Rise of the Guardians so much. Despite the re-imagining of these mythical creatures as superhero type characters, to me the film feels delightfully old fashioned. There is no zany posturing, no knowing nods to the adult audience, just a good solid story told with beautiful animation and a lively pace. A simple pleasure and one of the best animated films of the year.

- Linda O’Brien