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‘Guardians’ fails to rise to occasion

Published: Tue, November 20, 2012 @ 12:00 a.m.



Grade: D

Credits: Directed by Peter Ramsey; with the voices of Chris Pine, Alec Baldwin, Hugh Jackman and Jude Law

Rating: PG

Running time: 1:37

By Roger Moore

McClatchy-Tribune News Service

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 a bit 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,” 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.

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.


1MattMatt(3 comments)posted 3 years, 8 months ago

You're rather negative today. Ha. Bad weekend?

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2leechmon(1 comment)posted 3 years, 8 months ago

This is probably the worst review I've ever read. Its terribly transparent that the reviewer slept through the movie and has based his review on ... a trailer perhaps? He possibly even has some unfounded hatred for Dreamworks in general, and never even watched the movie. Shame on him. I don't know, he surely hasn't seen the movie. To give it the label as worst Dreamworks animated film over Bee Movie, or Shark Tale is just utter and complete nonsense.
I have seen the movie. It is full of heartfelt, tender, warm moments. Its very funny, with moments of great high action and incredible effects. Not to mention the fact that it has the most beautiful art of any Dreamworks animated movie in it. Seriously, breathtaking stuff.
Again, shame on this "Roger Moore" person - I'm sure that's not even his real name. Its a fantastic movie, and please don't let his vitriol bias you otherwise.

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3daitenshe(1 comment)posted 3 years, 8 months ago

Well, If your plan was to get people to sign up just so they could comment on this terrible article, then job well done. I also got a chance to see this movie early and thought it was the best animated movie I've seen all year. This is the level of quality that Pixar should have produced with Brave. I totally understand that people have different opinions but to call this the worst movie that Dreamworks has ever made shows the lack of critical ability that is pervasive through the whole article. I give your the same grade as your 'review' of this movie. A solid D.

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