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You'd think that with all of Santa Claus' influence and pull he'd be able to somehow make Rise of the Guardians a better movie....
Paramount / 97 Minutes / 2012 / Rated PG / Street Date: March 12, 2013
Rise of the Guardiansis a classic example of a high-profile concept that all but completely ignores dramatic follow-through. The idea that the Easter Bunny, the Tooth Fairy, and a host of other notably familiar legends all decide to team up and combat evil together sounds like a slam-dunk set-up, but aside from a few funny-ha-ha gags that work pretty well, this is undercooked animated cinema at its most clichéd: Rise of the Guardians feels like it’s been cobbled together by committee, and having that many cooks in the kitchen has robbed the film of any particular nuance or emotional truth that it might have been able to inspire.
We begin the movie with a conundrum. Santa (Alec Baldwin) calls a meeting of a whole bunch of his pals – Easter Bunny (Hugh Jackman) and Tooth Fairy (Isla Fisher) among others – to draw attention to the dire news that The Boogeyman (Jude Law) is back in town. The usual gang won’t be able to make much of a dent against this diabolical villain, but there’s a new cat in town – a fellow by the name of Jack Frost (Chris Pine) – who’s just talented enough to help Santa’s posse stand up to The Boogeyman once and for all.
Frost isn’t exactly embraced by this crew – he and Easter Bunny have a particularly difficult time getting along – but as Rise of the Guardians kicks into its second half-hour, all the mileposts of its traditional narrative are firmly established. The DreamWorks animation folks create a lovely world for the characters to traverse in Rise of the Guardians, but everything about its low-to-the-ground development as a story is paint-by-numbers predictable. There are no major risks at hand here, no pivotal stakes that truly throw our protagonists into jeopardy.
And so Rise of the Guardians ends up being an easy-on-the-eyes bummer of a motion picture. It’s not a bad film – not by any stretch – but its tepid sense of pace and lack of any real narrative thrust nevertheless establishes it as a defiantly mediocre one. Kids who will sit through any animated film whatsoever might be a bit forgiving, allowing Rise of the Guardians to enthrall as a one-time viewing experience, but any discerning tastes will likely find it to be lackadaisical yet aimless, a goofy one-off superhero tale in search of greater meaning (and some better jokes).