Not necessarily just a Halloween movie, Rise of the Guardians is really a movie that could fit a variety of holidays. It’s darker elements, however, could easily make it fit a Halloween and Christmas movie listing (even Easter really…). It’s also a movie that didn’t get a lot of attention when it first came out, causing problems for DreamWorks financially when it came in well under budget, but has significantly increased in popularity long after its release.
About: When Pitch Black, also known as the Boogeyman, begins to haunt the dreams of children around the globe and turn them into nightmares, St. North (Santa Claus), Sandy (The Sandman), Tooth (The Tooth Fairy) and Bunnymund (The Easter Bunny) are told by the Man in the Moon that they need to enlist the aid of Jack Frost. Jack Frost is a trouble maker. Mischievous to the core, he is all about fun and being irresponsible. None of the children really believe or know about Jack Frost, rendering him invisible to them while The Guardians are loved and adored. After being convinced to help stop Pitch, Jack Frost and the others attempt to stop Pitch, who begins targeting each of The Guardians, causing children to stop believing in them and thus weakening their powers. The movie has received mostly positive reviews with Rotten Tomatoes critics giving it a 74%. It’s also been nominated and has won several awards, including the Hollywood Animation Award in 2012.
Warning! Potential Spoilers Ahead!
The Plot/Characters: This movie just utterly blew my mind when it came to its characters. The characters really stand out and are different in a lot of ways from what you would expect. St. North is a Russian inspired Santa Claus with a tough as nails attitude and tattoos lining his arms. Tooth is bubbly, over the top, and absolutely obsessed with teeth in general. Sandy doesn’t talk much at all… Well, in fact, he never talks, which is super interesting when he’s trying to mime for the others and no one is paying attention. Bunnymund has a thick Australian accent and fights with a bow and arrow. He’s even resorted to kidnapping Jack Frost in a sack! Jack Frost is more along the lines of what you might expect in some ways. He’s a troubled young man with an unknown past but he’s all about fun and making fun for children. Struggling with his own self identity, Jack Frost is a more involved character that is highly relate-able. He’s also a reluctant Guardian.
The easiest way to describe the plot to The Rise of the Guardians is to say that it is very similar to The Avengers. You have a group of heroes with fantastic powers that have to band together to stop an evil villain, Pitch, from destroying the world as we know it. Along the way, they disagree with one another, fight and nearly are destroyed completely thanks to Pitch’s absolutely cunning attacks. However, at the center of the plot is Jack Frost, who is the main protagonist, and we follow him more closely throughout the movie and learn about his past that begins 300 years ago that even he doesn’t know about yet. What makes this a Christmas movie is more obvious, as the movie involves saving holidays, including Christmas.
The Scares: Believe it or not, Rise of the Guardians does have some intense darkness to it. No real jumpscares though. Obviously, it’s not meant to be a horror movie or to scare the pants off of anyone. However, there are some dark elements here that are at work through it’s main antagonist, Pitch Black. Pitch is attempting to take down The Guardians by destroying children’s beliefs in them all. Meanwhile, he’s filling children’s thoughts with nightmares, growing stronger and making them believe in him instead. There is a part in the movie where Pitch is filling the children’s dreams with his own nightmares as a golden horse turns into a dark, pitch black sinister monster. The symbolism as well for Pitch’s Lair being underneath a children’s abandoned bed can also cause some goosebumps.
Okay, yeah, really not that spooky. However, it’s unsettling at least for children. I’m just glad they toned him down from the concept art…
The Animation: The Animation for Rise of the Guardians is just so visually stunning. Everything from the backgrounds to the character design had so much thought put into it that it shines through the entire film and is very reminiscent of How to Train Your Dragon. The following pictures are actually scenes from the movie.
And my personal favorite…
We don’t even have to get into the concept art, of course, since it doesn’t make it to the final film. But just take a look at how beautiful it is…
The Score: The music for this movie was not composed by Hans Zimmer but was done instead by French composer Alexandre Desplat. The music has been nominated for several awards, including an Annie Award for Music in an Animated Feature. It invokes a lot of feeling throughout the movie and has a sense of depth. When we get into the darker elements of the feature, Pitch’s themes are dark and foreboding while other background tracks set a happier, light tone.
Overall: While not necessarily considered first as a Halloween movie, this film has a build up that I think is important for one. It’s got creepy elements to it for sure and Pitch Black is actually the Boogeyman as well. That being said, it has Easter and Christmas elements as well. The plot and characters are so interesting that it makes rewatching this movie over and over again easy and fun though, so pick a holiday of your choice and plug this one in! With all the work that went into the concept art and characters, you’ll find some reason to love it.
Have you seen Rise of the Guardians yet? What did you think?