Another box-office disappointment on the list, Rise of the Guardians turns the most beloved characters of childhood imagination into a legendary A-Team. The CGI animation and voice acting are excellent, and the filmmaker’s own imaginations run wild with clever concepts applied to explain the “secrets” of these mythical Guardians. Such innovations include an army of hummingbird-like fairies to gather teeth for the Tooth Fairy, wormhole-producing snow globes to justify Santa’s one-night travel around the earth, and magical “tunnels” summoned by the Easter Bunny as if he had an Aperture portal gun. All these concepts and the fantastical worlds of the various characters are introduced at such a rapid pace most of the film just washes over the viewer, creating a sense of wonder, the obvious goal of the entire film.
I’ll admit that, for the most part, the climax seems to repeat what came before, and, by then, the prolonged scenes of “wonder” start to drag. After the poignant revelation of Jack’s tragic backstory, the action and wonder seem recycled from previous scenes, with the exception of Pitch being dragged to hell(?), a la Ghost. It also falls prey to a cliché I notice in a lot of movies, particularly animated ones: the he’s-dead-no-wait-never-mind conceit involving the Sandman. The most glaring fault, though, is that it completely ignores the true meaning of Easter and Christmas, mentioning “hope” and little else. Granted, the Man in the Moon stands in for God in many scenes and this is a secular film, but it seemed obvious that the filmmakers were trying to step around that elephant in the room.
Though the Tooth Fairy fares best in this regard, Rise of the Guardians creates a version of these characters, not the iconic version that it might have been. Still, with some funny lines, impressive animation, and that all-important foundation of wonder, it’s a worthy family film that should have performed better in theaters than it did.
Best line: (Santa) “Merry Christmas!” (Easter Bunny) “Happy Easter!” (Tooth Fairy) “And don’t forget to floss!”Artistry: 5 Characters/Actors: 5 Entertainment: 5 Visual Effects: 9 Originality: 4 Watchability: 5 Other (ending drags) -4 TOTAL: 29 out of 60
Tomorrow: #325: Doctor Dolittle (1967)
© 2014 S. G. Liput