I don’t do movie theatres for various reasons including audiences that chatter too much and the smell of that weird stuff that’s not really butter. And it is that I’m watching an animated film released several Christmas seasons past called Rise of The Guardians which features a Russian Father Christmas, an Australia Easter Bunny (complete with boomerang), The Sandman, and a really cut in a fey dory way female Tooth Fairy. All Guardians of the hopes, wishes and dreams of children everywhere.
There are two more characters: Jack Frost who’s been chosen to be a Guardian by The Man in The Moon, and someone I’ll call Mister Dark though he’s called Pitch here who looks remarkably like the incarnation of Dark in Bill Willingham’s Fables series as drawn by Mark Buckingham.
The animation is superb, certainly among the best I’ve seen as you can see by the trailer here. If you know any of the folkloric origins of these characters, you’ll be snared by their depictions in this film. Do pay attention to the fact that the film explicitly states all of these characters were once human before they were chosen to be what they are now. And the characters have nice touches such as Father Christmas having Naughty and Nice tattooed on his forearms, or Jack looking remarkably like Peter Pan. Not to mention Father Christmas being called simply North.
The story has Mister Dark, errr, Pitch stopping children by believing stopping the Tooth Fairies from gathering the teeth, destroying all the eggs before the children can find them, changing dreams literally into horse shaped nightmares and of course making sure Christmas doesn’t happen. Doing this removes those Guardians from stopping him from making everything Dark. Oh and he breaks The Staff that gives Jack his powers.
I really shouldn’t tell a lot more about this film but I will discuss the voice acting here which is superb. Jack Frost is voiced by Alec Baldwin, Jude Law is North with a lovely Russian accent, Pitch is darkly voiced by Isla Fisher, Tooth by Hugh Javkman, Bunny by Dakota Goyo and myriad others in smaller roles. I find particularly interesting that we get male actors doing females voices and female actor doing voices. This holds true even with the characters that have only a handful of lines.
It’s interesting to contrast the depiction with the characters here in this PG rated affair which is based on William Joyce’s Guardians of Childhood series with other depictions such as Christopher Golden’s decidedly darker depiction of The Sandman in his The Veil series where that Sandman does horrific things more keeping with the original tone of Brothers Grimm.
It’s pretty much from my viewpoint a perfect film — great script, superb animation, all around spot on voice acting and a nice take on these characters. I suspect I should read the first of the series it was based on just to see how it compares to its source material.