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Immersed in Movies: Previewing 'Rise of the Guardians'

Photo of Bill Desowitz By Bill Desowitz | Thompson on Hollywood November 1, 2012 at 9:00PM

DreamWorks' "Rise of the Guardians" (November 21) is an exquisite and enchanting adaptation of William Joyce's magnificent and epic "Guardian" book series, which reinvents some of our favorite fairy tale icons. First-time director Peter Ramsey, who cut his teeth doing storyboards for David Fincher and Spike Jonze before moving into animation at DreamWorks, has wisely upped the superhero quotient in "Avengers"-like fashion, which makes for a more spectacular movie.
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'Rise of the Guardians' - Sandman
'Rise of the Guardians' - Sandman

DreamWorks' "Rise of the Guardians" (November 21) is an exquisite and enchanting adaptation of William Joyce's magnificent and epic "Guardian" book series, which reinvents some of our favorite fairy tale icons. First-time director Peter Ramsey, who cut his teeth doing storyboards for David Fincher and Spike Jonze before moving into animation at DreamWorks, has wisely upped the superhero quotient in "Avengers"-like fashion, which makes for a more spectacular movie. Its precious depiction of childhood innocence marks a new direction in tone for DreamWorks, in a way that adults should respond to as well. This means that the Oscar race for animated feature will heat up this holiday season, as Disney's "Wreck-It Ralph" opens Friday.

"Rise of the Guardians"
"Rise of the Guardians"

Ramsey admits that when he first heard the pitch he was skeptical about uniting Santa Claus (Alec Baldwin), the Easter Bunny (Hugh Jackman), the Tooth Fairy (Isla Fisher), Sandman (a silent but badass, Buddha-like figure), and Jack Frost (Chris Pine). That is, until he considered the importance that belief plays in fueling mythology."Looking at what Bill had done, taking one step to the left, suddenly all these things started leaping out like hope, wonder, memory, and dreams," Ramsey said on Tuesday. "They start to take on a lot more power but the other thing that really got me was this idea that when you're a kid, it's not like they're characters in a cartoon. When you make a wish to Santa Claus and Christmas morning that present is there under the tree, it's a reality that's really powerful."

Likewise, Guillermo Del Toro, who served as exec producer, emphasized the importance of rejecting any sort of ironic spin. "This is romantic at its core," he suggested. "There is no post-modern winking, winking: these are characters that choose what they do; they each have a core and this is what you become. And Jack has not found it, which is how it comes together."

This article is related to: Animation, Oscars, Awards, Awards, Interviews, Interviews


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Thompson on Hollywood

Born and raised in Manhattan, Anne Thompson grew up going to the Thalia and The New Yorker and wound up at grad Cinema Studies at NYU. She worked at United Artists and Film Comment before heading west as that magazine's west coast editor. She wrote for the LA Weekly, Sight and Sound, Empire, The New York Times and Entertainment Weekly before serving as West Coast Editor of Premiere. She wrote for The Washington Post, The London Observer, Wired, More, and Vanity Fair, and did staff stints at The Hollywood Reporter and Variety. She eventually took her blog Thompson on Hollywood to Indiewire. She taught film criticism at USC Critical Studies, and continues to host the fall semester of “Sneak Previews” for UCLA Extension.