I got lucky during Looper last week in catching an add during the previews for the first annual Kid’s Day at the Opéra Gaumont Capucines that happened this past Sunday. They were showing Niko the Little Reindeer 2 (I don’t recall the first one…), Chaplin’s The Kid and the French premiere of The Rise of the Guardians (Les Cinq Legends in French). Jules, who you may recall was there with me for Looper had heard of it and was unable to join me and the kids. Too bad for him because it was great. It is rated for ages 6 and up, but my 3 year old did just fine and my almost-6 year old loved it too. It is the charming story of Pitch who tries desperately to ruin the kid’s beliefs in the Tooth Fairy, the Sandman, the Easter Bunny, and -gasp- Santa Claus himself. I was unlucky in that it was dubbed into French so I cannot tell you how good the voiceovers were in the original. The French chose a pop star for the Toothfairy (that won the equivalent of American Idol so that cast a bit of a shadow in my mind), but had a funny sort of Swedish/German accent for Santa. Without leaving any spoilers, I’d say that it is clearly a DreamWorks film – not overbearing in that Disney way with morals out the yazoo – but great special effects, lots of humor, and loads of action. I got a little worried a few times in some of the scary scenes, but they did a good job of keeping them short. Even though she told me she got scared, my daughter stayed on my lap the whole time without asking to leave (a first!) and seemed to enjoy it. Actually, her favorite character was the Easter Bunny (she loves bunnies). My son loved the protagonist Jack Frost. I can’t really tell you more about him without spoiling the charm of the film so I’ll leave it at that. I think the coolest special effects were those of the Sandman. It was incredibly creative how they presented the lovely dreams that he imparted to the kids. The rhythm of the film only dips a few times but the kids all stayed engaged and applauded at the end. Definitely worth going once it premieres in the rest of the theatres worldwide sometime next week.
Doing a wee bit of research for this post, I realize that I have only seen a few of the Dreamworks films – the Shrek trilogy (the first one was a 4.5 but they tailed off after that) and the Wallace and Gromit films (all so much fun!). I have seen pieces of Madagascar (a fave of my son) but missed Kung-Fu Panda and the others. It is therefore hard to say whether this one lives up to the other ones from this same studio. The effects are definitely impressive (the sand in particular was very well done). As usual, many of the sets were at night in order to simplify contrast and so forth, but even the daytime animation was really good.
Yet more research revealed that the movie was co-produced by the author of the Guardians of Childhood book series, Mr. William Joyce of Shreveport, LA. I have not read these so if one of my readers has done so, please let me know if these are “essential” or “eh, whatever” for the kids in the comments.
Another thing I thought of, I appreciated greatly that at least Santa’s globe was not always focussed on North America but actually show “believing kid’s” in Africa and Australia. Most movies only focus on New York or LA but here we did get a little more of a global view – even if the actual places the heroes visit are in America and Europe (Paris as I recall), at least we see that there are kids on other parts of the planet.
I’d definitely give the film a 3.5/5 due to its originality. I really hate listening to films that are dubbed and detest Nolween (the pop star I mentioned) otherwise I might be inclined to push a 3.7 or so. If I ever get to see it in the original, I’ll revisit the rating here. Promise 🙂