Firmly rooted in tales from childhood, Dreamwork's Rise Of The Guardians re-imagines the most well-known figures from children's imaginations as a team of ass kicking super heroes. Based on the books by William Joyce, Santa Claus (Alec Baldwin), the Easter Bunny (Hugh Jackman), the Tooth Fairy (Isla Fisher), and the Sandman are the Guardians, keeping children the world over safe from harm. When an ancient enemy, Pitch Black (Jude Law), threatens not only the world but the Guardians themselves, Jack Frost (Chris Pine) is brought in as their newest recruit.
First and foremost, this movie is an immense amount of fun. Story-wise however, it doesn't come close to the mighty Pixar. The pacing is full of stops and starts (the whole thing feels very episodic), it borders on the over sentimental at times, and everything is tied up too neatly. But I had a massive smile on my face for the duration of my time in the cinema. It pretty much hits the ground running, throwing us head first into this world of magic and imagination. There is a rich vein of humour running through it, especially the inhabitants of Santa's workshop. Much has been made of Santa's elves (they're even the subject of much of the films ad campaign), but it's really the yeti's you should look out for, the put-upon toy painter being the stand-out. The chemistry between the leads is a delight, sparking off so well together, and making proceedings that extra bit more enjoyable. The visuals are also a triumph, really helped by a sheen of 3D. It is one of the most unique kids films I have seen in a long time, with the character and location designs being out of this world. There is a real sense of wonder in each scene, from the Sandman weaving dreams to life to the Easter Bunny bounding thorough underground tunnels. The children in the cinema with me were lapping up every minute.
The cast also add to the fun, with Alec Baldwin knocking it out of the park as a strangely eastern European Santa Claus. He puts his all into the role, throwing out zingers left, right and center. Hugh Jackman brings his usual hardman persona to a giant bunny rabbit with fantastic results, and Jude law inhabits the perfect villain, full of snarling menace, but the more the film goes, he loses his impact somewhat. Chris Pine and Isla Fisher play their roles well enough, but I was left with the feeling that they could have offered more. As for The Sandman? For a character that is mute for the entirety, he became my favorite character. His habit of communicating through symbols popping out of his head killing me every time.
An extremely fun and unique trip to the cinema, there is enough here to keep the kids, and the big kids, happy for two hours or so. Well worth the watch!