Reactions from the Rublik: Rise of the Guardians

I have so far attempted to publish my reactions in groups of three, as it seems a little pointless having separate articles for what are really just first impressions and not full reviews. However, DreamWorks’ Rise of the Guardians has been such a huge deal for me for so long now that I believe I have enough to say to justify a full discussion.

As before, then, this reaction is to be taken with a sizeable pinch of salt, as all I can really comment on are the film’s visuals, soundtrack and the gist of its narrative (although I am now fairly sure I know what rabbit is in Russian). That said, I believe that have I picked up enough information through the extensive publicity campaign and early reviews to follow the story closely enough.

For the uninitiated, Rise of the Guardians centres on the boyish Jack Frost, an angsty eighteen-year-old who deals in snow days and delights in sub-zero mischief. When a dark force unleashes an attack on the planet’s children, replacing their faith with fear, Jack is called upon by the Guardians — North, Tooth, E. Aster Bunnymund and the Sandman — as they attempt to mount a counter-offensive of their own.

The last film from DreamWorks Animation to be distributed by Paramount Pictures, Rise of the Guardians comes off the back of something of a Golden Age for the studio that once brought us Shark Tale and Shrek 3. As DreamWorks enters a new five year partnership with 20th Century Fox, the film, directed by Peter Ramsey, will inevitably colour the legacy of the tumultuous Paramount years.

Far from dropping the ball, Rise of the Guardians is one of the studio’s most accomplished works to date, and may well be the best computer animated film of this year, beating both Pixar’s Brave and Disney’s Wreck-It Ralph, but perhaps on a par with LAIKA’s stop-motion ParaNorman. With what is ostensibly the final part in the Madagascar series epitomising the studio’s (admittedly entertaining) snarky past, the second of DreamWorks’ 2012 releases is more in line with instant-classic How To Train Your Dragon in both style and substance — hopefully a cornerstone of the company’s future.

Although primarily based on William Joyce’s book series, The Guardians of Childhood, the film’s success can also be attributed to a number of other sources. I have been Team DreamWorks for some time now, and the studio has been pushing the boundaries of computer animation in a number of really interesting ways. By uniting Roger Deakins, the famed cinematographer who worked on How To Train Your Dragon and supervised here, Guillermo del Toro, who has executive-produced the studio’s output since Kung Fu Panda 2, and Alexandre Desplat, arguably one of the finest composers working in the industry today, DreamWorks have produced something truly special.

As such, while the animation is as good as we have come to expect at this point in the technology’s development, the film also bears the fingerprints of other, decidedly non-animator hands. The results are utterly astonishing, as they were previously in How To Train Your Dragon, as it is not only the quality of the effects that you are admiring, but the realism and depth of the image itself. From the beautifully-realised mannerisms of its characters to the very specific way light dances through distant trees, there is never a moment that you aren’t in awe of what has been realised onscreen. In genuinely immersive 3D.

And it’s fun. Really fun. As the Russian audience around me erupted into unanimous laughter at what I am sure was a brilliantly witty piece of dialogue, I found myself perfectly entertained by the amusing — though not overly goofy — physical comedy. The plot bolts along at a staggering pace; after a brief introduction to the character of Jack Frost, we are thrown almost immediately into the action as Pitch, the film’s bogeyman, reveals himself to Santa Claus. Not even the cutesy minions irked me, for they were put to far greater use than the yellow ticktacks of Despicable Me and the Pink Berets of Hop.

In fact, the only time that Rise of the Guardians ever falls short during a comparison is when it is held up against DreamWorks’ own recent output. Whereas Kung Fu Panda, How To Train Your Dragon and Madagascar 3 positively popped with imagination, DreamWorks’ latest feels — at times — a little constrained. Whether it’s the Sandman’s Patronus-esque magic, the Avengers-ish premise or the slightly underdeveloped E. Aster Bunnymund character (come on: eggs with legs?), there is a sense that it could yet have been bigger, better. Not that I’m complaining. Not at all.

Terrifically inventive and wonderfully animated (I was sold from the moment Frost replaced the little boy in the studio’s crescent moon logo), Rise of the Guardians is also a delightfully sweet, beautifully scored and impeccably directed film. Simply put, movies like this are the reason I go to the cinema. I loved it. And I’m going again at the weekend.

Rise of the Guardians opens in U.K. cinemas on November 30th. Make sure you see it.

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About popcornaddiction
I am a psychology graduate, a News Writer for HeyUGuys/BestforFilm and, most importantly, a hopeless popcorn addict.

6 Responses to Reactions from the Rublik: Rise of the Guardians

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