Holiday-themed 'Guardians' a poor effort by DreamWorks

2012-11-22T00:00:00Z Holiday-themed 'Guardians' a poor effort by DreamWorksRoger Moore Mcclatchy-tribune News Service Arizona Daily Star
November 22, 2012 12:00 am  • 

DreamWorks Animation President Jeffrey Katzenberg recently lamented the dearth of holiday-themed movies headed to your multiplex this year. But in foisting "Rise of the Guardians" upon unsuspecting audiences for the holidays, it's clear he just wanted some cover. Other holiday films would take some of the pressure off this joyless, soul-dead piffle.

"Guardians" is the worst animated movie to ever wear the DreamWorks logo.

It's based on William Joyce's "The Guardians of Childhood" books, about a team that includes The Easter Bunny, given an Aussie accent by Hugh Jackman; "North," aka Santa, made all Slavic and silly by Alec Baldwin; The Tooth Fairy (Isla Fisher) and the silent, roly-poly Sandman.

They need the help of newcomer Jack Frost (Chris Pine) if they're to have a prayer of stopping "Pitch," short for "Pitch Black," the night-terror voiced by Jude Law. He's seeing to it that kids across the world are giving up their belief in magic and magical figures like themselves. And he's giving them night terrors.

All the Guardians have their public face and their commando side. When action is called for, they team up to save childhood. Is Jack Frost worthy of their ranks? He's an imp, more into mischief than making the world safe for dreaming. He freezes this and that and makes with the mayhem. Kids, who can see only his handiwork, don't mind.

North sees the threat that Pitch's "touch of fear" carries and summons his unruly troops.

"Now, ve get down to tacks of brass," he says, in silly Slavic. It's amusing the way this guy swears, using Russian composers' names as profanity - "Shostako-vich! "Rimsky-Korsakov!"

The Easter Bunny is more militant. He packs a boomerang and a chip on his kangaroo-sized shoulder.

It's a confused ramble across some of the same ground covered by "Arthur Christmas," "Monsters, Inc." and "The Tooth Fairy," but fails to tell an interesting story or give the characters anything much warm or funny to do. The assorted hummingbird-sized tooth fairy assistants are visually fascinating, but lack a message, a lesson or a laugh.

"Rise of the Guardians" is harmless enough, but this is the studio's least-entertaining film. For a company that banks on building franchises of kiddie cartoons, these Guardians don't rise to the occasion - not by a long shot.

Review

Rise of the Guardians

* 1/2

• Rated: PG for thematic elements and some mildly scary action.

• Director: Peter Ramsey.

• Cast: The voices of Chris Pine, Alec Baldwin, Hugh Jackman, Isla Fisher, Jude Law

• Running time: 97 minutes.

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