Mark Metcalf
Moving Pictures

“Rise of the Guardians”

"Rise of the Guardians," the 3D fantasy adventure opening Thanksgiving week, is a "great way to start the holiday season," says Mark Metcalf.

By - Nov 21st, 2012 11:10 am
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The new animated fantasy-adventure film from DreamWorks, “Rise of the Guardians” in theaters now. Photos courtesy DreamWorks Studios.

I’m tempted to say something like, “instant classic,” but that phrase is overused and more a marketing phrase than legitimate critique of a film. But the movie is darn good.

The first film of the holiday season opens the day before Thanksgiving. And it’s about Easter. Well, the Easter Bunny is one of the main characters and all the action takes place in the few days leading up to Easter. But Santa Claus is also one of the main characters and the on-the-ground leader of the Guardians. The Tooth Fairy and the Sandman are also Guardians. Jack Frost becomes one, the Man In the Moon is the supreme authority, and the evil force is the Boogie Man. So most of the hopes and fears of children in a comfortably well off society are represented.

The opening sequence when Jack Frost is, essentially, created, is physically beautiful, simple, clean, a celebration of the cold, of snow and ice. The story it tells — the innocence and joy as Jack is first terrified by and then learns to love his power over cold — is magnificent. The animation throughout is unique and equally beautiful. The 3D is relatively subtle—maybe even magical in moments.

There may be too much plot for it to be a true classic.

The ability of the children of the world to believe, to have faith and to play is at stake. The Guardians must repel the black cloud of doubt that the Boogie Man, or Pitch (as in black), represents. All of it is derived directly from Madeline L’Engle’s book A Wrinkle in Time. But derived so directly that it is almost an homage. Much of the structure of adventure children’s literature derives from that truly classic source.

I think I have talked myself out of thinking of Rise of the Guardians as an “instant classic,” but it’s a great way to start the holiday season. However, I’m doubtful that decades from now we will haul out our old Blu-ray versions to watch it on our wall-sized 3D television sets.

Rise of the Guardians opens Wednesday, Nov. 21 at Fox-Bay Cinema Grill, AMC Mayfair Mall 18, and all area Marcus Theaters.

For more of TCD’s film coverage and Mark Metcalf‘s Moving Pictures reviews and more, visit our Film Page

Categories: Movies

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