Title: Rise of the Guardians
HTS Overall Score: 85
DreamWorks Animation brings together some of the world’s most famous and familiar childhood heroes or fantastical mythical creatures; however you saw them as a youngster, for a superb adventure about the power and impact of simply believing.
[img]http://www.hometheatershack.com/gallery/file.php?n=11323[/img]Santa Clause/North (Baldwin – doing a Russian accent and periodically speaking in broken English to add to the stereotype) has called upon the other Guardians, the Easter Bunny (Jackman), the Tooth Fairy (Fisher), and the Sand Man (a character I know almost nothing about – he helps you doze off and have pleasant dreams, right?) for an urgent meeting. It seems an old nemesis referred to as the Boogeyman/Pitch Black (Law) is back after an appreciably extended absence. The black, smoky, sometimes undefined figure feeds on children’s fears and revels in turning dreams into nightmares. Pitch’s sudden appearance is so potentially devastating that it warrants the Man in the Moon to step in and select a new fifth Guardian to help the others in the foreseeable battle with the dark presence. Jack Frost (Pine) is bestowed the task of aiding the foursome fight Pitch and his nightmares, but it is an honor he himself doesn’t yet know about. It is not until two of Santa’s Yetis ambush and teleport him to the North in a sack where Santa informs him that the omnipresent Man in the Moon has chosen him to be a Guardian. Understandably the news comes as a huge surprise to Jack and he is apprehensive to change his mischievous and carefree ways until he is thrust into the middle of a confrontation involving the sinister and conniving Pitch.
[img]http://www.hometheatershack.com/gallery/file.php?n=11320[/img]The whole scenario of how Pitch desperately wants to be the one that children believe in and the conceit of how he plans for everything to come to fruition is clever and immediately captivating. Pitch’s plan is nicely detailed and the movie wastes no time in placing the viewer in the middle of the struggle between these beloved fictional characters and an evil counterpart. The different and elaborate places the fast action and dramatic scenes take place in are beautifully shaped with structure and the limbo-like worlds are interesting and imaginative.
The creativeness in the representation of these magical beings really shines through in their unique and diverse looks. Santa partly resembles a tough biker from the show Sons of Anarchy, Jack looks like he stepped off the battlefield of the Japanese saga Final Fantasy, the Tooth Fairy looks pretty conventional as a flying sprite/pixy, the Sand Man is nothing how I would have imaged him being mute and dwarf-like, and the Easter Bunny is surprisingly grumpy and argumentative, and that’s all great because it’s something different and off the beaten path.
Rise of the Guardians at its core is about belief both in yourself and things we sometimes take for granted like wonder, kindness and hope and that there is good in the world. It’s all explored through a fine balance of good characters and one nasty one and visualized using vibrant colors, sensational other worlds, familiar characters and an interesting storyline.
[img]http://www.hometheatershack.com/gallery/file.php?n=11321[/img]Rise of the Guardians is a digital masterpiece from the moment you see Jack Frost and his naturally flowing platinum blonde hair. Ice crystals and other winter related elements are highly detailed. Fine textures on fur, skin, wings, clothing and other inanimate objects are evident and look as if many hours of overtime went into developing the clarity and sharpness that registers with the viewer. The shiny and tiny glowing grains of sand the Sand Man uses to conjure his thoughts look so effortless, but no doubt took an entire technical team to manifest. The entire color wheel is represented. Vibrant and various color palettes are used plentifully to bring the creatures and characters to life. There is never a dull or bland moment visually in Rise of the Guardians because so much labour went into creating an astonishingly combined array of characters, worlds, and large to minute environmental objects. There is a high level of digital/visual substance in Rise of the Guardians that shouldn’t be ignored by people who appreciate this format; go seek out this movie because it’s a memorable one.
[img]http://www.hometheatershack.com/gallery/file.php?n=11322[/img]Although Rise of the Guardians is encoded with a Dolby TrueHD 7.1 lossless soundtrack I can only comment on the sonic experience I had from a 5.1 system and believe me it is amazing. From the outset every speaker comes to live as Jack Frost learns of his icy/snowy powers, sliding across a pond crystalizing all he touches in his wake. The soundtrack is immediately noticeable as being busy and complicated. Despite being filled with plenty of directional effects and constant subtle background sounds you never get the feeling that any of it is superfluous. The range of sounds is impressive and immersive and the score is nicely incorporated into scene be it action or dialogued centered. Santa, the Sand Man, Jack Frost, the Tooth Fairy, and Easter Bunny and Pitch each encompass a variety of different physical sounds and all are naturally represented through a calculated combination of the front and back speakers. Rise of the Guardians has a soundtrack that never gets boring and is just as pleasing, wonderful and intricate on the second and third listen. I was blown away by just a 5.1 presentation, I can only envy those who have a robust 7.1 system to experience the movie through.
-Jack Frost Snowball Showdown!: - remote-based game where players control Jack Frost in a snowball battle
-Rock, Paper, Scissors with Sandy: remote-based game of chance against the computer
-Behind the Magic: making of documentary comprising of four featurettes:
1. Dreaming up the Look
2. Naughty & Nice: Designing Memorable Characters
3. Enchanting Effects
4. Creating an Epic Scope
-The Man Behind the Guardians
-Dreamers & Believers
-Sandy’s Dream Guide
-World of DreamWorks Animation: snippets from Shrek, Madagascar, How to Train Your Dragon, and Kung Fu Panda
[img]http://www.hometheatershack.com/gallery/file.php?n=11319[/img]Rise of the Guardians continues in the trend of being targeted not only to children but also to adults who appreciate clever dialogue that’s brought to life through natural sounding voice performances. These are my favourite type of animations because they are never boring, are filled with memorable main and auxiliary characters (Santa’s minions are fabulous in this movie, just like Gru’s minions from Despicable Me (2010) are awesome), and are visually stunning and sonically immersive. Rise of the Guardians doesn’t always stay on track and sometimes the deviations seem like filler, but then again these are normalcies in this genre so faulting the movie for that is a bit unfair. I had fun watching the movie and consistently laughed or giggled. I admit I started the movie with a preconceived notion that I wouldn’t like it because I saw in the trailers the different angle it was taking toward all the fabled childhood characters, but it only took about ten minutes for my opinion to completely change to one of pure enjoyment.
Starring: Hugh Jackman, Alec Baldwin, Isla Fisher, Chris Pine, Jude Law, Dakota Goyo
Directed by: Peter Ramsey
Written by: David Lindsay-Abaire (screenplay), William Joyce (book)
Aspect Ratio: 1.78:1
Audio: English: Dolby TrueHD 7.1
Runtime: 97 min
Blu-Ray Release Date: March 12, 2013
Buy Rise of the Guardians on Blu-ray at Amazon
Watch the Official Trailer