Since Toy Story was released in 1995, Pixar have pretty much been the rulers of animated film and forgetting Cars 1 and 2, every one of their films have been as close to perfect as possible.
Slowly however, over the past few years DreamWorks have started to nip at the heels of Pixar with Kung Fu Panda and How to Train Your Dragon proving that they too can make visually exciting films with different stories and a lot of heart for both children and adults to enjoy.
The latest DreamWorks challenge to Pixars throne is Rise of The Guardians which tells the story of an Avengers esque team up of Jack Frost, a tattoo clad Santa Claus, the Easter Bunny, Tooth Fairy and the Sandman who must join forces to stop the Boogey Man aka Pitch from taking over the world and protect the innocence and imagination of the children in it.
With such an awesome premise, this film can’t fail right?
Well it looks like Pixar can rest easy as Rise of The Guardians does not live up to the promise of it’s premise.
It’s difficult to review an animated film as some people will simply dismiss any negative comments due to the fact that these films are primarily aimed at children and plot holes and lack of depth are no big deal. However some of the most exciting storytelling and visuals in film over the past decade have been from animated films such as Up or Wall-E so I’ve come to accept no excuses from animation.
The main reason Rise of The Guardians disappoints is simply in the storytelling. There’s just too much going on in the film with a plot that’s all over the place and confused as to what it’ trying to achieve and what message it’s sending out.
There’s no real threat and whereas we are supposed to be scared of the all-powerful Boogey man he doesn’t really do a lot except whine about not being believed in by children, which is made all the worse by the fact that he is British. Even the character design is lazy as I swear they’ve just used the template of Hades from Disney’s Hercules.
So with no real threat the film has a ratio of one action sequence to about five scenes of exposition which is bad enough as is but with so many plot holes which would make even a five year old scratch his head and wonder how that happened, is made all the worse.
The other flaw the film has is that there are just too many characters which aren’t given the chance to shine. Instead the focus is on Jack Frost who craves to be believed in by children and find out how and why he came to be. This mystery of Jack Frost’s past takes precedence over any other character development which was fine with me to a point but when this great mystery is revealed, it’s such a big let-down that I wish we’d got to see a lot more of the other team members.
There is some good in the film. The animation itself looks great, especially during the few action pieces there are and the golden dreams the Sandman creates. The score was pretty decent too.
The best part though has to be Santa and his yeti’s (wookies). A Santa Claus who has tattoo’s and wields swords is an excellent idea and I only wish he was giving more to do in this film. Alec Baldwin does the best voice work with this character too and seems to be the only actor who actually tried to put a bit of life into their characters.
Add to this his Yeti’s (they are defiantly wookies) who managed to get the only laughs out of me during the film and I’d say they warrant a stand-alone film of their own.
Other than that there’s not much to praise with Rise of The Guardians and I think it will even leave younger children as underwhelmed and disappointed as I was.