If you pay money to see ‘Rise of the Guardians’ in 3D, you most likely will be watching the film that will win the Oscar for Best Animated Feature Film of the Year (Disney’s ‘Wreck-it-Ralph’ is a very close second). It’s simpatico characters, wondrous-action-packed universe and crisp-immersive 3D, make this a fun and overwhelming joy to watch with adults, teens and young children, not kindergarden kids.
The story is very similar to the Avengers – a group of the most powerful childhood legends, called The Guardians (Jack Frost, Santa Claus, The Easter Rabbit, Tooth Fairy and Sandman), assemble to put an end to The Bogeyman, a villain that has attained ultimate darkness and whose mission is to erase the Guardians from existence by robbing children of their hopes and dreams. Jack Frost, a reluctant new recruit who’d rather enjoy a snow day than save the world is who the film revolves around.
‘Rise of the Guardians’ is an epic animation with loads of adventure, touching moments, humor, and some twists to keep you sharp. The voice actors, formed by Alec Baldwin (Santa Claus), Hugh Jackman (Easter Bunny), Chris Pine (Jack Frost), Isla Fisher (Tooth fairy) and Jude Law (Bogeyman), do a commendable job. The best voice actors are those whose voice changes enough to not discern who they are immediately. Law doesn’t quite live up to those standards, yet his is a pleasing and soothing voice worth listening to. The rest of the cast provide are enjoyable vocal performances and don’t overshadow the visuals.
Speaking of visuals, this film is a 3D spectacle. I am not a technical graphics animator, but I can recognize when my eyes and mind have a psychogenic orgasm. I remember seeing ‘Avatar’ and not feeling as wowed by the 3D as James Cameron had promised, but here, for the first time in my life I felt I was actually inside a movie. The skin texture of the characters, the universe where they reside in, the color richness, lighting, and cinematography were just sublime. Perhaps the greatest cinematographer Hollywood has is Roger Deakins and he served as the visual consultant to the production in selecting and composing the shots that would best be suited to 3D. The 3D technology used here is called “Tru 3D” – it’s a standard in all DreamWorks Animation films – and is utilized here in an organic way that was integral to the story, not as a stunt or an afterthought. As a result, the movie has a sense of wonder and magic, not to mention a lustrous feel to it all. The best moments to appreciate the 3D are during Jack Frost’s scenes. The snowflakes falling from the sky feel like they’re falling inside the theater and the characters close-ups look like they’ve popped out of the screen. Just wonderful.
Worthy to mention, award-winning, Mexican filmmaker Guillermo del Toro, who collaborated with DreamWorks Animation as a creative consultant on “Megamind” and was an executive producer on “Kung Fu Panda 2” and “Puss in Boots,” returns as an executive producer for the movie.
Overall, ‘Rise of the Guardians’ is an ambitious, visually stunning and sophisticated animation that has a wonderful message at its core – a quest to never stop believing in goodness. If there is one family movie to see this year it’s this movie… and in 3D.