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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.
'Rise of the Guardians'
'Rise of the Guardians'

But Del Toro felt even more connected to "Guardians" than "Puss in Boots" or "Kung Fu Panda 2." When consulting on the story and character design, he couldn't step back and be objective. The mythological force and visual beauty were that strong (each character hails from a distinct and dazzling world). Not surprisingly, Del Toro identified more closely with burly large-scale Santa (or North, as he's called in the movie): the tough Cossack soldier who nonetheless is full of wonder.

Del Toro added that he views his DreamWorks tenure as an apprenticeship and that he fully intends to direct "Trollhunters" when he's ready. "I'm learning so much about animation that it's helped me enormously with the [giant robots] in 'Pacific Rim," he told me.

Speaking of animation, DreamWorks has significantly raised its game, particularly with particle simulation. As you can see in the clip below, both Sandman and the villainous Pitch (Jude Law) weave powerful character shapes for opposing purposes, and the studio's effects team came up with a great technique for conveying a rich look that's also emotionally resonant.

More on "Guardians" closer to release. 

"Making Dreamsand" featurette is below.

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

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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.