Rise of the Guardians - Holiday Edition (DVD)
Dreamworks Animation / 2012 / 97 mins / PG
Rise of the Guardians reminds me a lot of the old Rankin Bass holiday classics in which several holiday icons would meet one another. From Frosty and Rudolph to the Snow Miser and Heat Miser, they all had a whimsical charm to them. And while this Dreamworks holiday feature does go a little more for the action, it still has that same fun sense of wonder to the mythic characters.
The Guardians are a group of childhood fantasy characters (Santa Claus, Easter Bunny, Tooth Fairy, Sandman) that bring joy to all the world's children in addition to protecting them from the nightmare-inducing Pitch, AKA The Boogeyman (Jude Law). Members of this elite group are chosen by the moon and the latest chosen one happens to be the trouble-making and the reluctant to join Jack Frost (Chris Kline). The Guardians are desperately going to need his help now as Pitch is out in full force to destroy them by getting children to stop believing in them. But Jack may end up helping Pitch to find out more about his lost past.
There certainly is quite a bit of spectacle in how each one of the Guardians is portrayed. Santa is a big burly Russian wielding swords, the Easter Bunny is a slick-talking boomerang chucker, the Tooth Fairy commands a legion of tiny fairies, Sandman is a master sculptor of his element and Jack Frost is an ally to any child who appreciates a good snow day off of school. What I especially dug were the worlds of each Guardian from the valleys of running Easter eggs to the decadently designed aviary of the tooth fairies.
Though there are a few elements at play here, the story mostly revolves around children believing in these characters that only they can see. When they stop believing, the Guardians lose their powers and eventually disappear from the children's sights. It's a great concept that leads to all of the Guardians using their powers to not only bring an unprecedented level of joy to the young ones, but fight off the nightmares that threaten their dreams. Whether battling dark horses of the night or delighting children with their presence, it's always an enjoyable sight to see with Dreamworks' spectacular animation.
This animated feature was directed by first-time director Peter Ramsay, who had previously worked as a storyboard artist on several films. He certainly brings plenty of his talented skills to the table with brilliant design and exhilarating choreography. The story does play a little fast and loose with the rules of the Guardians, but those flaws are easily excusable just for how well all the other elements are handled. It avoids the easy pitfalls of too many puns and pop music numbers with grace and makes for a truly unique animated film out of the Dreamworks stable.
Even for a DVD release, this is still a fantastic transfer. On an upscaled player, the picture is gorgeously detailed and vibrantly colorful. The 5.1 Dolby Digital track sounds just as incredible with a dazzling soundtrack filled with plenty of cool sound effects.
This Holiday Edition contains most of the same extras as the previous release which includes an hour-long behind the scenes featurette of the entire production and a short little Jingle Elves video. Also included exclusively for this DVD release is a little Jingle Elf wind-up toy. It's pretty simple, but it's a nice little bonus peripheral.
Be it Easter or Christmas, Rise of the Guardians is a fantastic animated feature for either holiday. It has an amazing sense of joy and wonder with a fresh take on these familiar characters. What could've been a mess of predictable writing and visuals turns out to be a brilliantly creativity film that kids and adults will adore for years to come.