Rise of the Guardians
dir Peter Ramsey
scr David Lindsay-Abaire
prd Nancy Bernstein, Christina Steinberg
voices Chris Pine, Alec Baldwin, Hugh Jackman, Isla Fisher, Jude Law, Dakota Goyo, Khamani Griffin, Kamil McFadden, Georgie Grieve, Emily Nordwind, Jacob Bertrand, Dominique Grund
release US 21.Nov.12, UK 30.Nov.12
12/US DreamWorks 1h37
Rise of the Guardians
Meet the Guardians: Sandman, Bunny, North, Tooth and Jack

pine baldwin jackman
R E V I E W    B Y    R I C H    C L I N E
Rise of the Guardians This animated adventure is produced to an exceptionally high standard, from the fine vocal cast to the colourfully detailed animation. It's a smart, energetic thrill-ride that barely pauses to let us catch our breath. And the hectic pace is perhaps its only flaw.

Jack Frost (Pine) has never understood why he exists if no one can see him. He spends his days causing children to laugh at snowy-icy mayhem and feels out of place when he's called in by the Guardians: burly Russian Santa (Baldwin), bravado-fuelled Aussie Easter Bunny (Jackman), hummingbird-like Tooth Fairy (Fisher) and wordless Sandman. They need Jack to help battle Pitch (Law), a boogeyman trying to usurp their place in children's imaginations, turning dreams into nightmares. So as Jack figures out whether he belongs in this group, he has a job to do.

Loosely based on the William Joyce novels, the script has a lot of fun with these mythical characters. Each one is cleverly packed with personality, which gives a zing to their interaction as things progress. And Jack is a superb central character in the vein of Frodo Baggins or Harry Potter: a reluctant hero who doesn't quite see the skills he possesses. All of them are brought to life by a skilled team of designers, animators and effects whizzes.

The film looks fantastic, as a whooshing sense of camerawork maintains the suspense. At times we wish things would slow down so we could get a look at Santa's sleigh, for example. Each character's personal lair is so packed with details that we want to freeze the frame and take a 3D tour of it. But the film charges on full-speed, bursting with eye-catching set-pieces, marvellous characters and a plot that grips both adults and kids.

It also keeps us laughing, mainly due to comical touches added by Baldwin and Jackman (and the artists who animate their characters). Much of the humour whistles past so quickly that we almost miss it, but the steady stream of verbal and visual gags never stops. And while the film's heartwarming message is impossible to miss, at least the sentiment isn't slathered on too heavily. It's also a lesson the movies don't always teach us: about overcoming fear to celebrate life.

cert pg themes, some violence 11.Nov.12

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© 2012 by Rich Cline, Shadows on the Wall