‘Guardians’ Rises to Potential

This past weekend DreamWorks released its newest animated feature, “Rise of the Guardians.” The movie is about how mythical spirits, like Santa Claus, the Sandman and the Tooth Fairy, are threatened by an age-old villain known as Pitch Black. Pitch, the Boogeyman, seeks revenge on these spirits, also known as the Guardians, because they have spread joy and hope across the world, causing children to not believe in him anymore. Pitch rallies his Nightmares and goes on a fearful rampage to crush the Guardians in any way he can, resulting in an all-out war between the two. Throw in a “new guy” character, Jack Frost, and we have an adventure comedy that promises to be fun for the whole family. At least, we hope so.

Overall, I thought that the movie was good. The animation was top-notch, and if you’ve seen any sort of commercial for this movie, you know that DreamWorks has finally nailed an animation style that can contend with Disney and Pixar. Some of the facial expressions made by the characters throughout the movie were alarmingly realistic, which, when combined with excellent voice acting, made for believable, as well as easily likeable, characters. Plus, the take on the historical fairy tales was different enough to keep me interested until the plot really got moving.

What I didn’t like, however, was how the film felt forced at some points. Don’t get me wrong; the film’s more emotional moments counted when they were supposed to, and I felt an appropriate tug on my heartstrings when the plot turned tragic. However, that doesn’t mean that the movie overall was heartwarming.

At times the movie seemed scattered — it was a lot of hit-or-miss. It tried to do too many things at once; it mixed too many genres and failed to come out unscathed. Individually, each segment of the film that held a specific genre shined beautifully, but they failed to make a cohesive movie that flowed like other DreamWorks animations.

In “How to Train Your Dragon,” “Shrek” or even “Madagascar 3,” the comedy, the action and the moral of the story all mesh to create great memorable films. But in “Rise of the Guardians,” even though each fight scene felt like a roller coaster, even though each joke had me smiling or chuckling, and even though each moral lesson made me slightly poignant, for whatever reason, these individual elements of the movie weren’t able to create a great family film — instead it just made the movie “good.”

However, as you’ve probably guessed, DreamWorks may have a second chance to make this into a “great” film. “Rise of the Guardians” is actually based on a series of children’s novels that were made concurrently with the film, the author of which had a hand in also scripting the movie. And these novels he has produced, along with subtle hints made within the movie, may lead the studio to fund another film. At least, I personally hope so.

The film’s material has enormous potential, which was touched upon throughout this first “Guardian” movie, lending to how good it is. We’ll just have to wait and see if the potential series can, to quote the movie, “find its center” and wow us with the next one.

Final Rating: 3.5/5