I wrap up the two eldest kids and head on down to the local theater to see the latest Dreamworks Animation movie, “Rise of the Guardians”. I fully expected to like this movie because Dreamworks has produced some of the best and a few of my favorite CGI films of all-time: The Shrek franchise, the Madagascar franchise, Bee Movie, Flushed Away, the Kung Fu Panda franchise and to top it off – How To Train Your Dragon. So going in – they had my complete and total confidence. My confidence and trust was not taken for granted. This movie delivered a whimsical, comical, wistful, climatic and cute movie about finding “your center” and being who you are regardless of who believes in you.
Jack Frost (Chris Pine), the main protagonist in this story, is a 300+ year old being who woke up one day only knowing his name and that he had powers. Aimlessly roaming through existence for centuries as an unseen and unbelieved in spirit, he is called to become one of the fabled Guardians when a malevolent force is awakened and is threatening the hopes and dreams of the world’s children. The other Guardians, North (aka Santa, Alec Baldwin), The Easter Bunny (Hugh Jackmon), The Tooth Fairy (Isla Fisher) and The Sandman are pensive about their new addition, but he’s been chosen – and they must unite as one to battle the forces of evil.
These aren’t your watered down and humdrum characters portrayed in the past. These are characters with some edge and with fiery attitudes. These are characters that you actually believe can fight the good fight, but also deliver the goodness and joy to the world’s children. North is a deliberate, rough and tumble, wide-eyed warrior of Christmas. Bunny is a 6 foot rabbit with an Australian accent, a boomerang and an attitude to boot. Tooth is a colorful, humming bird-like creature with a glow of enthusiasm, joy and a real fetish for teeth. Sandman is a sleepy, short, sweet and golden character made up his sleep sand. Half the movie it seems like he’s about to nod off into slumber – and occasionally he does. Then there’s Jack, an impulsive, brash and playful young-looking man who desires to be recognized but is still in search for the meaning to his life. Why am I here?
What I liked most about this movie was that it was clear that this crew of mythical legends had history, and not all of it positive. Thus, the antagonistic relationship between Bunny and Jack becomes a focal point for some of the more entertaining and introspective moments in the film. The other thing I liked about this film wast some of the characterizations of those beings that didn’t say a word at all. For instance, the moon is a character in this film. Not to spoil anything, but this celestial body plays an important role in the lives of the Guardians. The Sandman is probably one of the most endearing (and surprising) of pretty much all of the characters – again, not to give spoilers. Lastly, there is some great dialogue for a kid’s movie in this film. There’s a scene between North and Jack in his workshop that literally gave me goose bumps – about what it means to be not just a Guardian, but what it means to be [you] and what drives you.
This movie is as much about the character’s roles as it is about who these characters are. Their “center” is what drives them to be Guardians of children. Each Guardian brings a special center that is the catalyst for the hope, wonderment and joy in each child. This is what Jack must find in order to finally understand why he is who he is and how he too can one day truly become – a Guardian.
This movie is worth seeing with your child or by yourself.
To note one other important aspect of this movie – it’s the FIRST CGI movie Directed by an African-American – Peter Ramsey. Peter has had his hands in many other CGI films in the past, such as Shark Tale, Monsters vs Aliens and Shrek The Third. He’s also been a part other well-known movies/franchises such as Men In Black, Minority Report, Cast Away and Fight Club, to name a few. It’s weird to say that in 2012 that African-Americans are still breaking new ground in fairly institutional properties. However, that’s also where hope lies – the new and untested.
This movie is a gem and I hope is the start of a franchise based on the William Joyce series, “The Guardians of Childhood”. Go read the books, but also – see this movie. It was worth every red cent.
RR&RT RATING: 8.75/10.00
Just in case you don’t know what I’m talking about.