Dreamworks Animation has created an eclectic group of films, most of them adored by both audiences and critics, so it’s not unfair to have high expectations when a new project is announced. Sadly, Rise of the Guardians, the latest offering from Dreamworks, is a step down in both quality and animation style. Throw in subpar voice acting and a weak script and you’ve got one of the worst Dreamwork animated films to date.
Based on The Guardians of Childhood books by William Joyce, the movie follows Jack Frost, Santa Claus, the Easter Bunny, the Tooth Fairy, and the Sandman as they fight to protect Earth and its children from the sinister power of Pitch Black, an evil entity bent on instilling fear and despair in children across the globe.
Given its talented cast and crew, it comes as somewhat of a shock that the voice acting is mediocre, sometimes even just plain bad. Chris Pine falls flat as Jack Frost, and his inability to lead the rest of the cast proves to be a huge distraction. Isla Fisher and Jude Law, who play the Tooth Fairy and Pitch Black, respectively, are the only people involved appearing to have any fun. Everyone else seems bored in their roles, with Hugh Jackman and Alec Baldwin being the worst offenders. Jackman plays the Easter Bunny, and thanks to his uninspiring performance, his character is probably the least interesting one of the bunch. Baldwin lends his voice to not so jolly ol’ Saint Nick, who is more fun to watch on screen than the Easter Bunny, but not by much. Baldwin falls into the same trap as Jackman. He seems bored and completely uninterested in the role, and it is noticeable in the tired tone of voice he uses for almost every scene. I guess wrapping up filming on 30 Rock must be taking its toll on him.
The dialogue is awful. How could this even pass off as good? The dialogue is cheesy, boring, and really just pointless, and the characters come off as complete morons. Jack Frost is the only character who is even remotely developed, while the rest are flat and uninteresting.
The animation might as well be scribbles and doodles compared to the beautiful visuals from Kung Fu Panda or How to Train Your Dragon. It’s disappointing, because we’ve seen what Dreamworks is capable of and have come to expect so much more from the studio.
While the animation leaves much to be desired, the character designs are original and fun. Making Jack Frost a teenager and turning The Tooth Fairy into a hummingbird are interesting takes on familiar figures, and these inventive character designs add a refreshing vibe to an otherwise uninspired and shallow film.
Rise of the Guardians is destined to become a stain on Dreamworks’ otherwise untarnished track record. Hopefully the studio’s next film will be more of what we have come to expect from them.