These animated 'Guardians' don't rise to anything
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 here; “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, a bit of a rogue, more into mischief than making the world safe for dreaming. He freezes this and that and makes with the mayhem. Kids, who can't see him 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 - “Shostakovich! “Rimsky-Korsakov!”
The Easter Bunny is more militant. He backs 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,” a film more concerned with the mechanics of how Santa manages to make all those toys - he has zany, nonspeaking Yeti and elf assistants - than with telling an interesting story or giving the characters anything much warm or funny to do. The assorted hummingbird-sized tooth fairy assistants are fascinating, visually. But is there a message, a lesson or a laugh in them? No.
Was hiring David Lindsay-Abaire (“Rabbit Hole,” “Inkheart”) really the wisest choice for writing the script?
“Rise of the Guardians” is harmless enough, and the lack of easy pop-culture jokes represents the post-”Shrek” direction of DreamWorks well enough. But this is the studio's least entertaining film. For a company that banks on building franchises of kiddie cartoons, from “Shrek” to “Madagascar,” these Guardians don't rise to the occasion - not by a long shot.
Roger Moore is a movie critic for McClatchy-Tribune News Service.
Show commenting policy
TribLive commenting policy
You are solely responsible for your comments and by using TribLive.com you agree to our Terms of Service.
We moderate comments. Our goal is to provide substantive commentary for a general readership. By screening submissions, we provide a space where readers can share intelligent and informed commentary that enhances the quality of our news and information.
While most comments will be posted if they are on-topic and not abusive, moderating decisions are subjective. We will make them as carefully and consistently as we can. Because of the volume of reader comments, we cannot review individual moderation decisions with readers.
We value thoughtful comments representing a range of views that make their point quickly and politely. We make an effort to protect discussions from repeated comments either by the same reader or different readers.
We follow the same standards for taste as the daily newspaper. A few things we won't tolerate: personal attacks, obscenity, vulgarity, profanity (including expletives and letters followed by dashes), commercial promotion, impersonations, incoherence, proselytizing and SHOUTING. Don't include URLs to Web sites.
We do not edit comments. They are either approved or deleted. We reserve the right to edit a comment that is quoted or excerpted in an article. In this case, we may fix spelling and punctuation.
We welcome strong opinions and criticism of our work, but we don't want comments to become bogged down with discussions of our policies and we will moderate accordingly.
We appreciate it when readers and people quoted in articles or blog posts point out errors of fact or emphasis and will investigate all assertions. But these suggestions should be sent via e-mail. To avoid distracting other readers, we won't publish comments that suggest a correction. Instead, corrections will be made in a blog post or in an article.
- Morton, Pirates blank Red Sox in series opener
- Rossi: At start, are Pens already finished?
- City of Pittsburgh detective, 2 boys finalize adoption before judge
- Steelers notebook: RT Gilbert not in danger of losing his job
- Steelers’ Roethlisberger still hurting after hard hit from Ravens’ Upshaw
- Identical twins born at West Penn Hospital a rare medical marvel
- Vikings bar Peterson from all team activities
- Pitt professor, poet earns prestigious MacArthur ‘genius grant’
- Southmoreland student injured in school assault
- Penguins notebook: Martin not concerned about expiring contract
- Big break in trooper ambush probe: suspect’s abandoned SUV