The Good: Great computer effects, Voice acting
The Bad: Blasé plot, Mediocre character development (after the initial establishment)
The Basics: Rise Of The Guardians is a very typical action adventure story that phones in everything but the effects and is a pretty obvious holiday cashgrab.
Given my early gripes with the trailer for Rise Of The Guardians (that article is here!), I went into the preview screening of Rise Of The Guardians surprisingly eager for the holiday film. Ironically, the film itself did not leave me with any issues about how it might traumatize childhood abuse victims. Instead, Rise Of The Guardians suffers from serious issues on the plot and character fronts that make it more dull than in any way impressive. I am a reviewer who is not at all wowed by effects – special effects are one point out of the ten point rating on my scale – so the latest Dreamworks visual epic does little for those looking for originality or substance.
Outside the use of characters who have – to the best of my knowledge – never been the subject of a team-up film, Rise Of The Guardians has little originality to it. The plot is derivative of virtually every superhero team-up film and the characters do not pop. Ultimately, Rise Of The Guardians left me feeling like I had watched a film that could have been released at virtually any time of year in order to cash in on holiday dollars. It just so happens that Dreamworks is banking on the Thanksgiving family dollars before it becomes utterly forgotten by the time The Hobbit and Les Miserables are theatrically released. Rise Of The Guardians is based upon a novel and it is worth noting that I have not read those books and thus, this is a very pure review of the film.
Mythical beings like Santa Claus (Nicholas St. North), the Tooth Fairy, and the Easter Bunny (E. Aster Bunnymund) continue to survive in today’s world through the beliefs of the children of the world. With Sandy (the Sandman) and the others, North monitors the world and the faith of children. When the Boogie Man (Pitch) decides to make a play for Earth, it appears he has a very real chance of success. Organized by North, he and the other beings search for a way to thwart the malevolent force.
Directed by the Man In The Moon, North starts a quest to find and recruit Jack Frost. Believing Frost can reignite the passions of children, North discovers that Frost is actually a bit more angsty than he figured. Working together, the mythical beings must thwart the Boogie Man and protect the children of the world.
Almost all of the potential audaciousness of Rise Of The Guardians is in the character designs and that means that within a minute of each character’s appearance on screen, the novelty of the film is over. After that, Rise Of The Guardians quickly degenerates into a remarkably typical and formulaic action-adventure film. Rise Of The Guardians is essentially The Avengers (reviewed here!) without witty dialogue, live-action special effects and characters who the audience is actually invested in. In fact, Rise Of The Guardians might well have served as the best possible illustration of how The Avengers could have utterly tanked had the cinematic fanbase already been huge based on the six Marvel films that preceded it.
While Jack Frost has a nominal character arc as he seeks his purpose for existence, it is hardly a deep or complicatedly developed arc, Rise Of The Guardians is far more concerned with spectacle and plot progression than it is with actual character development. Rise Of The Guardians is child-appropriate, but many of the young people at the screening I attended seemed as bored with it as I did. In the end, Rise Of The Guardians is not going to be the next Shrek-like franchise that explodes for Dreamworks; it may well be the most forgettable endeavor Dreamworks Animation releases.
For other Dreamworks Animation films, please check out my reviews of:
How To Train Your Dragon
Shrek Forever After
For other film reviews, be sure to check out my Movie Review Index Page for an organized listing.
© 2012 W.L. Swarts. May not be reprinted without permission.
| | |