Picture the Avengers with some hyperactive animation and plenty of festive cheer, all topped off with tasteful 3D confetti goodness. That’s what you get with Dreamworks Animation and Paramount Pictures’ latest brainchild, Rise of the Guardians.

Based on William Joyce’s The Guardians of Childhood book series and his short film The Man in the Moon, Rise of the Guardians puts the responsibility of saving the innocence of children in the hands of a very unusual assortment of mythical childhood figures.

After 300 years of having no responsibilities other than creating snow wherever he goes, the carefree Jack Frost (Chris Pine) is summoned by the Man in the Moon to join the Guardians for a mission. Led by North (Alec Baldwin), a heavily tattooed Santa Claus with a Russian accent, the A-team comprises of the Aussie boomerang-wielding Bunnymund (Easter Bunny voiced by Hugh Jackman), the sweet-hearted Tooth (Tooth Fairy voiced by Isla Fisher) and the silent Sandy (The Sandman voiced by… er, no one), the Guardians are forced to work together with the reluctant and “naughty” Frost, who’d rather be flying solo without a care about saving the world.

The formidable team of 5 goes up against Nightmare King Pitch (The Boogeyman voiced by Jude Law) to stop him from replacing the hopes, beliefs and imagination of children all over the world with fear. With his lanky body and sinister appearance, Pitch uncannily resembles Lord Voldemort from the Harry Potter series. When looking at his minions, black nightmarish steeds that can vanish into little fragments and can fly around at absurd speeds, we can’t help but think they were inspired by the eerie Death Eaters that haunted Harry Potter and his friends in Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire.

Screenplay writer David Lindsay-Abaire, critically acclaimed for his Pulitzer prize-winning play Rabbit Hole that was made into a movie, created the perfect blend of comedy and heart-tugging drama through intelligent portrayal of the clashing personalities of the legendary characters and their witty one-liners, such as the panicking Bunnymund’s “Where are the bloody seatbelts?” on North’s magic sleigh, and at the same time showing them at their weakest points, when Pitch tempted Jack into betraying the Guardians, promising him that the children will finally believe and worship the both of them.

The nonsensical quibbles between Bunnymund and Jack over the silliest things like whether Bunnymund is a kangaroo or a bunny will have you laughing yourself into stitches, while the melancholic nature of Jack’s painful past will leave you weeping.

Having worked on countless successful films such as Fight Club and Men in Black, longtime storyboard artist and director Peter Ramsey’s brilliant manipulation of the 3D concept with hurricane after hurricane of thrilling and interactive three-dimensional visual effects (pretty confetti we can’t help but try to touch!) took us on what seemed like a never-ending rollercoaster ride. He also took great care to administer healthy doses of true- to-life graphics so as not to overwhelm and sicken viewers.

With such an entertaining dialogue under great direction, you think “What could possibly go wrong for Rise of the Guardians?” It hurts us to say that the plot was extremely weak. Very obviously targeted at children, its cheesy good-versus-evil scenario has been overused by DreamWorks Animation countless times in films such as Shrek and Over the Hedge. The story’s turning point and supposedly the most emotional part of the film barely had any effect on anybody in the theatre. Since not everybody is like the quick-witted Sherlock Holmes, the biggest problem we found was that there were tons of pieces that don’t add up, leaving us with a lot of unanswered questions. We were extremely boggled with how the Sandman died and simply came back to life near the end without any explanation at all.

That said, Rise of the Guardians still makes for an enjoyable film for the kids as well as couples. Heck, anybody who just wants to get into the Christmas mood early should catch this adorable animated film. We at UrbanWire feel that Rise of the Guardians did enough justice as a final film to finish off Dreamworks Animation’s partnership with Paramount Pictures.
Movie: Rise of the Guardians
Rating: 3/5
Release Date: Nov 22, 2012 (Singapore)
Duration: 97 minutes
Language: English
Age Rating: PG13
Genre: Action, Adventure, Family
Director: Peter Ramsey
Cast: Chris Pine, Alec Baldwin, Hugh Jackman, Isla Fisher, Jude Law