There’s something incredibly fitting about ending a film festival with a movie like “Rise of the Guardians.”
A movie that brings audiences face-to-face with the embodiment of the kind of hope and joy found just as much in film as in life seems like it was made for the festival format.
But, let’s have more matter and less art. The mood of “Rise of the Guardians” is definitely appropriate, but is it a good movie?
You can stop biting your lips in anticipation and fear, “Rise of the Guardians” continues Dreamworks Animation’s recent string of impressively made – and surprisingly heartfelt – offerings.
Jack Frost (Chris Pine) has spent centuries as a perpetual teenager. As emotionally undeveloped as he’s world weary, he’s spent his entire existence trying to find out why he came into being.
All he knows is that the Man in the Moon (never seen nor heard) had a hand in it. With no purpose, he goes around causing fun, and sometimes trouble, for people, accepting the fact that they can’t see him.
You would get the idea that a centuries-old teenager might lead to one annoyingly bratty character, but “Guardians” avoids this misstep better than most movies with regular teenage characters. Even the ones that aren’t personifications of legends.
Pine’s voice talent brings an edge of maturity to Frost’s voice that keeps the character from sounding whiny or forced. When Frost first realizes that no living person can see him, and that he’s alone, the panic and pain in his voice sounds genuine.
It’s soon learned that other legendary figures can see Jack, such as the rest of the cast. Santa Claus (Alec Baldwin), E. Aster Bunnymund (Hugh Jackman), the Tooth Fairy (Isla Fisher) and the Sandman all know of Jack, and try to recruit him as a guardian when the Man on the Moon chooses him for the position. The reason? The boogeyman, Pitch Black, is back.
Voiced by Jude Law, Pitch is another standout voice of the film. Slick and surprisingly formal, Pitch comes across almost as an animated form of Tom Hiddleston’s portrayal of Loki in the recent Marvel films “Thor” and “Avengers.” It’s a good choice, and makes certain scenes appropriately dark and eerie, such as one where Pitch is initiating his assault against the guardians, riding into battle on an intimidating dark horse.
While not as sentimental as Disney’s newest movie, “Wreck-It Ralph,” this movie does hold a lot of emotion through the strength of its characters and, of course, through its design. Under the direction of Peter Ramsey, “Guardians” has some of the best action scenes of an animated film this year. The Guardians fly, jump and glide across the screen at appropriately fast speeds, and nothing is taken for granted. Small character design choices – North’s tattoos and Bunnymund’s resemblance to a kangaroo – give the movie a welcome personal touch.
Quite simply, not only is “Rise of the Guardians” a trip back to a childhood sense of wonder, it’s also a reminder of the magic of movies that allows them to take the familiar and give it a new face.