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Rise of the Guardians(2012)
Santa Claus, the Easter Bunny, the Tooth Fairy, Jack Frost and the Sandman band together to form a united front against the Bogeyman.
For more about Rise of the Guardians and the Rise of the Guardians Blu-ray release, see Rise of the Guardians Blu-ray Review published by Martin Liebman on March 10, 2013 where this Blu-ray release scored 4.0 out of 5.
Starring: Hugh Jackman, Alec Baldwin, Isla Fisher, Chris Pine, Jude Law, Dakota Goyo
Director: Peter Ramsey
» See full cast & crew
Rise of the Guardians Blu-ray Review
Have a little faith.
Reviewed by Martin Liebman, March 10, 2013
...to bring wonder, hope, and dreams.
Santa Claus, the Easter Bunny, the Tooth Fairy, the Sandman, and Jack Frost walk into a bar and, well, nothing. Nothing happens. It's not because the patrons are too drunk to notice, it's that they don't believe in the existence of this quintet of heroes, and disbelief leaves them rendered invisible. In Rise of the Guardians, some of the world's most famous characters are brought together to fight off a nasty villain who preys on children's nightmares and who finds his power only when the tots stop believing in those supposedly mythical heroes that bring them gifts, hope, money, sleep, and fun. But they're very much real, and they thrive on the faith of those they seek to aid. Believe, and all is well. Stop believing, and beware the coming of nightmares and the loss of childhood innocence. Rise of the Guardians is the latest DreamWorks digital picture, and it's a good one. It's certainly structurally predictable but also uniquely conceived, fit for all audiences, and beautifully executed, matching or surpassing in raw digital quality the sights and sounds of any other film of its kind and crafting a story not really for the ages but certainly one with spunk, heart, and reason to keep on believing, to remember what it means to have faith in something good in a world that, without that faith, would most certainly go dark.
Santa Claus (voiced by Alec Baldwin) has assembled the Guardians -- the Easter Bunny (voiced by Hugh Jackman), the Tooth Fairy (voiced by Isla Fisher), and the Sand Man -- for an urgent meeting. It seems the world's children are in danger, signaling that an old enemy -- the Boogeyman (voiced by Jude Law) -- is back. The Boogeyman preys on children's fears and haunts their nightmares; darkness surrounds him and, together, even the mighty Guardians may not be strong enough to stop him. Fortunately, the Man in the Moon has chosen a new, fifth Guardian to join on the mission to defeat the Boogeyman: Jack Frost (voiced by Chris Pine). Frost isn't a popular choice -- particularly with the Easter Bunny -- but despite his mischievous ways and the fact that he's rendered invisible to everyone but the Guardians because nobody believes in him, he soon proves his value while coming to terms with his past, discovering who he is, and forging his future path as a mainstay of the Guardians.
Rise of the Guardians builds an interesting dynamic that plays on the power of belief and faith and one's own value system as a way of seeing -- literally and figuratively -- more of the world than is otherwise apparent to those who go about their lives without stopping to wonder where all the good and the bad really comes from. If one does not believe in hope, goodness, kindness, and fun, do they -- can they -- really exist? The film gently weaves some interesting metaphorical and almost spiritual undertones into a very broad and simple story about belief and using that belief in goodness as a weapon to counteract bad in sort of a karmic universal balance. That balance extends to the relationship between the Guardians and the children of the world, and the film cleverly builds their powers not as just a means of force against evil but also a means of capturing goodness and the essence of who they are and what they can do for those that believe in them. The film's center is its exploration of Jack's own "center," that which makes him fit to be called a Guardian, an individual with more than mere powers but rather a central figure in shaping lives for the better. It's also just as much about the importance of faith in oneself as it is faith in something else; as Jack learns more about who he is, where he comes from, and what his future may hold, his confidence grows and so too does the likelihood that others will believe in him as he learns to believe in himself. It's all handled very simply but very effectively in the film, sometimes masked by action and fast movement and dazzling colors but certainly a central part of what makes Rise of the Guardians a success beyond the mere details of the animation.
Underneath some of the film's quality themes and ideas lies a fairly straightforward and, in a way, disappointingly predictable film. Though it does offer some nice little touches on some classic characters -- Santa as a tattooed biker sort, the importance of collected teeth in defining the characters -- Rise of the Guardians ultimately boils down to a linear, nuts-and-bolts animated experience that goes through the motions but still satisfies on strength of characters, the details within the broader context, and of course the gorgeous animation and superb sound design. But make no mistake about it: the picture indulges in the usual array of fast-moving action scenes, light family friendly mischief and adventure, subtle adult themes masked as children's fare, and the obligatory heartfelt scenes that reveal the characters beyond the superficial and provide a support foundation for the themes that run through the movie. In other words, it's not unlike most any other digitally animated film of recent vintage, but all of the detailed pieces manage to outclass the disappointments of the film's superficialities. The uniqueness of the characters and the parts they play in the story both together and as individuals becomes something really quite special. Likewise, the dramatic essence of the movie -- the importance of believing in something beyond the realm of basic human belief -- reflects the very essence of cinema itself, the acceptance of the magical as something within reach, as something good, as an escape, even temporary, from the harsher realities of life beyond the screen.
Yet whatever the film gets right and the little it gets wrong, it's all shaped by fantastic digital creations that are so detailed, so organic, it's nearly uncanny, even in this modern world of frequently released films that have made this style commonplace and a staple of cinema. DreamWorks animation again gives Pixar a run for its money with captivating visuals defined not by large details but rather small touches that make the movie feel very real and complete. Of course, character design is fantastic, whether the dark and smooth Pitch Black or the multicolored and textured Tooth Fairy. But it's often the world around them that makes the movie. A sofa cushion reacts naturally when wight is added to it. Bedsheets wrinkle, clothes flow, and shadows move with the light. Ice crystals, dreamy sand, even the finite little touches on the Tooth Fairy's little companions look fantastic. It's almost as if more time was put into the finishing touches than the major elements, and it's just those sorts of things that separate the great CGI movies from the mediocre CGI movies. Just as important, the voice acting is wonderful. It's nearly as natural and convincing as the voice work from Kung Fu Panda. The cast does a fantastic job bringing all the characters to vivid, articulate life, and the movie wouldn't be what it is with a lesser cast.
Rise of the Guardians Blu-ray, Video Quality
Rise of the Guardians dazzles with a picturesque 1080p transfer. DreamWorks' latest looks as pristine as it can on the format, right off the studio hard drive and onto the 50GB disc. The Blu-ray reveals an incredible level of detail that's astonishing both for the clarity and sharpness of the image but also in the reveal of just how much work and attention to detail really went into making the movie. Even the red blades on a child's sled look naturally worn down to the metal surface from several winters of heavy use. Character flesh, the little details on ice crystals, individual grains of golden glowing sleepy time sand, every last little surface showcases digital animation at its finest and pretty much its best for home viewing. Colors are equally resplendent. The palette is vibrant and natural, revealing a multitude of hues with little effort and absolutely no technical difficulties. From Sandman gold to Santa red, from icy blue to Tooth Fairy aqua, every major color scheme and each last little subtle color nuance is perfectly displayed. Black levels are tremendous in every scene. There is a very minor bit of banding -- around a glowing moon against a darkened backdrop and surrounding some of the Sandman's bright golden shapes in another darkened environment -- but hardly enough to warrant a mention. There is also a slight shimmer effect noticeable one straighter edge hair, notably Santa's beard. All in all, however, and despite a couple of minor flaws, this a real looker of a 1080p image that should jump to the top of the demo stack.
Rise of the Guardians Blu-ray, Audio Quality
Rise of the Guardians features a brilliant Dolby TrueHD 7.1 lossless soundtrack. This is a genuinely seamless, completely immersive, and wholly natural listening experience that won't soon be forgotten. It delivers perfect balance across the entire 7.1 configuration and through the whole range of sounds, from the sharpest highest to the rumbliest lows. There's fantastic bass to open, though it's certainly a little overshadowed by the sheer competence of the track, the beautiful flow and perfect harmony with which it saturates the entire stage with sonic bliss. Surround speakers are effortlessly utilized; the back channels enjoy some aggressive moments but never sound forced or phony. The front end handles the bulk, of course, but the true feel of absolute sonic immersion into the film makes for an amazing listening experience. Clarity is unbeatable in every regard; from the loudest musical strokes to the faintest little ambient effects, every single element in the track enjoys beautiful definition, presentation, and balance. Rounded out by faultless dialogue, this is truly a remarkable listen that must be experienced to fully appreciate.
Rise of the Guardians Blu-ray, Special Features and Extras
Rise of the Guardians contains the following supplements as well as DVD and UV and downloadable digital copies of the film.
Rise of the Guardians Blu-ray, Overall Score and Recommendation
Rise of the Guardians is an imperfect movie, but its imperfections pale compared to what the movie does so well. While it's predictable nearly to a fault and maneuvers through all of the usual kid-centric CGI routines, Rise of the Guardians does deliver a thematically satisfying core story, unique characters, terrific visuals, and natural voice acting. It's a real pleasure of a movie, not the best DreamWorks has ever made -- that still sits with the two Kung Fu Panda films -- but a worthy picture and one kids and adults both will want to watch time and again. DreamWorks' Blu-ray release of Rise of the Guardians features reference video and audio. A nice array of extras are included. Highly recommended.
Rise of the Guardians: Other Editions
Rise of the Guardians Blu-ray, News and Updates
• Blu-ray Sales, March 11-17: The Guardians Rise to Number One - March 21, 2013
For the week that ended on March 17th, family fare dominated the home media market. DreamWorks Home Entertainment's Rise of the Guardians scored the top position on the Blu-ray and overall package lists. This CGI-adventure did not perform as strongly as the studio ...
• Exclusive Giveaway: Rise of the Guardians - March 10, 2013
Blu-ray.com, Paramount Home Entertainment and DreamWorks Animation are offering three members a chance to win a copy of Rise of the Guardians, which features the voice talents of Hugh Jackman, Alec Baldwin, Isla Fisher, Chris Pine, Jude Law and Dakota Goyo. Nominated ...
• Rise of the Guardians Blu-ray (Updated) - February 14, 2013
Paramount Home Entertainment has officially detailed the Blu-ray/DVD/Digital Copy combo pack releases of Rise of the Guardians and Rise of the Guardians 3D. Nominated for Best Animated Feature, the superpowered DreamWorks Animation adventure brings the mythical ...
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