Rise Of The Guardians (2012)

Rise Of The GuardiansJack Frost (Chris Pine) remembers only darkness, and yet since emerging from a frozen pond some time in the 1800s he has spent the intervening years bringing light to everyone he encounters. Having initiated a snowball fight in the present day, inspiring a young boy named Jamie (Dakota Goyo) to believe, Jack is abducted by yetis and transported to the North Pole. Once there he learns from Santa Claus (Adam Baldwin) that the Boogeyman has returned, and is invited to join The Guardians Of Childhood — along with Tooth Fairy (Isla Fisher), the Easter Bunny (Hugh Jackman) and the Sandman — in their attempts to stop him.

Despite being considered something of a flop back in 2012, Rise Of The Guardians nevertheless received strong reviews at the time of release and has since gone on to recoup its considerable costs on DVD and Blu-ray. Peter Ramsey’s film didn’t deserve the indifference it was met with, and it’s reassuring to note that the film has finally found an audience. With DreamWorks Animation continuing the good work it started with Kung Fu Panda and How To Train Your Dragon, cultivating in-house talent and seeking consultations with filmmakers such as Guillermo del Toro and Roger Deakins, Rise Of The Guardians is further indication that their efforts are paying off.

The opening scene is one of the most astounding of recent years, with Jack Frost experimenting with his newfound abilities and delighting in innocent mischief. The subtlety of the animation is truly exceptional, the image of Jack floating lost in front of a silent moon proving both immediately iconic and endlessly compelling. The computer effects go from strength to strength as the other Guardians are introduced; a tracking shot following one of Tooth’s fairies as it darts down from the rafters is particularly impressive, as are the tendrils of sand that alert Jack to the Sandman’s presence. Just as remarkable are the cityscapes, a number of which feature during the Guardians’ first mission: to collect lost teeth from across the globe.

While that scene might be as jaunty and energetic as any out of DreamWorks Animation’s other 2012 release, Madagascar 3: Europe’s Most Wanted, Rise Of The Guardians is by and large a much more muted affair. Arguably Ramsey’s biggest success is in striking the perfect balance between slapstick and sentiment, for Jack’s journey towards self-discovery goes to some pretty dark places, relatively speaking, and yet the film never gets too bogged down in schmatz. Pine is perfect in the leading role, convincing as a care-free maverick while also hitting the more sombre notes with sensitivity and sincerity. The script may not be as quotable or even as clever as some of the studios other features, but it builds an atmosphere and mood that few animated children’s movies could lay claim to.

Also worthy of note is Alexandre Desplat’s soundtrack, which is almost as eccentric as the images onscreen. By turns haunting and playful, different tracks not only have to reflect different emotions but different seasons and cultures. That it all harmonises into one single, coherent score is testament to Desplat’s talents as composer, and both beautifully mirrors and compliments a film that is just as complex. The plot may be certifiably insane, hanging as it does on tooth memory, magic snowflakes and a man on the moon, but the themes are so strong — both musically and figuratively — and the animation so breathtaking that it doesn’t really matter.

4-Stars

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

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