Movie Review: Rise of the Guardians

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As we enter this holiday season there is much stress in the world. Most of which is because people have their own beliefs and opinions and try to force them on one another as how life should be. Must we forget though that when we were younger most of what we believed was our imagination? It was truth in magic, story and playing. We knew we could not always see who, what or when things might happen but they did. This holiday, or any holiday for that matter, a new film reminds of this simple joy. “Rise of the Guardians” swoops in to bring believing back to reality.

Jack Frost may be just a saying for when your nose gets that instant blast of cold, but what if he was real and had a purpose? What if Santa, the Easter Bunny, Tooth Fairy and even the Sandman were not just our imagination but real beings who are part of our lives because they are there to protect our childhood? Who will be there to stop Pitch from blacking out the world and bringing fear to all who believe? Sit back and relax because the stories we once were told are real; even they, have stories on how they came to be and why they are needed in our lives after we grow up.

Sitting in the directors’ seat for the first time, Peter Ramsey has stepped up and made a statement to the animation world. Personally I feel we are going to see much more of Ramsey in the near future as his keen eye for art, as is his forte, comes out in detail with his characters, cast and talented artists. Giving him the words to which he brought to life in animation is David Lindsey-Abaire (Robots, Inkheart). These two have imagined on screen, a story interweaving the books of William Joyce, ‘The Guardians of Childhood’.

Adding in the talent of some of Hollywood’s finest voices and you are in for an evening of fantastic wonder. In no particular order, I start with Alec Baldwin (30 Rock, Rock of Ages) as jolly, sword wielding, merry magician to all children, North. Isla Fisher (Wedding Crashers, Confessions of a Shopaholic) spreads her wings and fast paced ways of losing concentration, with so many things to take care of, as Tooth. The ever evolving talents of Hugh Jackman (Real Steel, Wolverine) doesn’t stretch to far in his characterization of the quick wit, boomerang slinging, egg decorator extraordinaire, Bunny. Always in need of a villain, Jude Law (Sherlock Holmes, Hugo) is as dark and sinister as black can be, trying to take control of the world by invading the dreams of children as Pitch. Rounding out the main characters is the slacker, mischief maker, always “looking for fun” person of the group, Jack Frost voiced by Chris Pine (Star Trek, People Like Us).

All their voices lend to the excitement and exhilaration of the film, however one character stands out above them all. What makes this unusual is that he never speaks yet is the one that catches your heart the most, Sandman. Ramsey’s approach for his visual speak is entertaining, warm and fuzzy, and quite possible one of my favorite animation characters I’ve seen in a long time. That is a lot for me to say given I have been following animation since I was a young child.

You have to give it to Ramsey, assembling a remarkable, gifted, magnificent orchestra of artist’s, technicians and renderers to bring to the screen a 3D film that makes sense of its use of 3D, something many films lack, is a testament to the power of this film. The process helps the story move rather than be a gimmick we see in so many others that do not need the 3D added. This is one reason I foresee Ramsey being in the animation directors’ seat for some time. Besides, with a group like this behind him, the other studios should be worried.

“Rise of the Guardians” is a film that is not just for your children or for this holiday season, it truly is for every one of all ages and any holiday. It is a film that reminds us to step back and enjoy life, have fun and remember what it was like to be a kid and use that influence in our adult lives.

Now for the words of wisdom I tend to do. But be forewarned there may be a SPOILER or two.

This film has many teachings layered throughout its myths, legends and reality. It is tough for me to say which is more important to me. On one end you have North who is all about finding your center and using that knowledge as your ‘weapon’ of choice. Jack is about fun and finding one’s self worth. Tooth reminds us about our memories and how we sometimes need to hold onto them longer. Keeping our imagination alive and thriving is Sandman, of course. Even Pitch, with his darkness reminds us to not be afraid of letting go and look beyond our fears. Bunny, well Bunny is just a force showing us that when you act beyond what people perceive you to be, you can be anything you want to.

But the unsung lesson comes from the children of the film. It is a simple lesson, be open and believe. You see we tend to, as we get older, have our opinions be the end all to be all. We are right and others can, pardon my French, ‘suck it’. This is when bad things can happen. When we start to force ourselves, ideals, ways on others and decry we’re right you’re wrong. This is when fights break out, revolutions begin, and wars end thoughts. And yet is we all have open minds, believe in ourselves and in each other, we can all live in a world were life is truly about living and creating, sharing and helping, knowing and loving. So if you have read this much, take the time to step back in your life and see the world not as black or white but as a wash of color where we all live because we believe.

Follow my entertainment adventures throughout Southern California on Twitter @SCThrillsMarc.