director Peter Ramsey
viewed: 11/23/2012 at AMC Metreon 16, SF, CA
Being a parent skews your view of the world. In sometimes obvious ways and sometimes obscure ones. You begin to forget that your world is shaped significantly by what your children bring to you and that the world of those without children might have no clue what certain things are.
Case in point: William Joyce. The film Rise of the Guardians is adapted from a series of books that children’s writer, artist, animator, etc, William Joyce has written in the last couple of years. I know Joyce from the television show Rolie Polie Olie, George Shrinks, and his book Dinosaur Bob and His Adventures with the Family Lazardo. But Joyce also worked creatively on film’s like Toy Story (1995), A Bug’s Life (1998) and Robots (2005) as well as many others. While I’m not familiar with all of his work, I certainly know who he is and can imagine what this film, especially with Guillermo del Toro producing, might have in store for us.
If you’ve read this far and I’ve enlightened you because you didn’t know who William Joyce is, there you go. If you read this far and you already knew all that, then you probably know what I am saying.
Rise of the Guardians is the latest in some outward expansion of modern mythologies about Santa in particular, but in this case about a number of other popular childhood myths, including the Easter Bunny, the Tooth Fairy, the Sandman, and Jack Frost. You see, in this world, they are not just doing the jobs for which they are famous but they are also protectors of all children from evils, like the Boogeyman, who rises here to try to take over the world in nightmares and fear. The Santa has tats, wields swords, and has an army of cool-looking yetis to help him in his endeavors. The Easter Bunny has an Australian accent, is armed with boomerangs, and has a labyrinth of tunnels and some strange Rapa Nui-like egg assistants.
Jack Frost is the center of this story, which I won’t try to go into in too much detail because it requires too much elaboration. He’s kind of the outcast character, who unlike the others cannot be seen by people because they don’t “believe” in him. He gets recruited by the Man in the Moon to join the Guardians on this most important of missions and in the process, he “finds himself,” as he is a bit of a lost soul.
I read somewhere that compared this film a bit to The Avengers (2012) in the way that it puts a team of heroes together, and while it’s not exactly like that, there is something to it. This film is an action-adventure film, with a lot of drama and a few thrills. It’s definitely not Rolie Polie Olie out there, gentle PBS stuff for the littlest of little ones. It’s for an older set of kids.
But I’ll say this: my kids liked it pretty well. Felix was surprisingly vocal about how much he enjoyed it as we walked out of the theater. As did Clara. And Felix’s friend who joined us. So for the 8-11 year old, I’d say this could be a pretty fun ride.
I liked it more than I thought I would, myself. The designs are nice and the story moves along well, and the arc of Jack Frost’s self-discovery works its magic pretty well. How it will hold up over time, whether sequels will be made, I don’t know. It seems to have been a bit under the radar for a lot of people. When I’ve mentioned it in passing, not only did I have to describe the movie, I generally had to describe William Joyce as well.