ROME, Nov 13, 2012 (AFP) – A cutlass-wielding Santa Claus gangs up with the Tooth Fairy and the Easter Bunny to save the world from the Boogeyman in the latest DreamWorks animation, which premieres internationally in Rome on Tuesday.
“Rise of the Guardians”, awarded the Vanity Fair International Award for Cinematic Excellence at the seventh edition of Rome’s film festival, is a special effects 3D romp which combines dark fantasy with saccharine moral teachings.
“We took the mythologies of these superheroes and drew out their characters, the emotions they stand for, coming up with a pirate-like Santa Claus with tattoos, who spreads wonder in a world of fear,” director Peter Ramsey said.
The story, in which Jack Frost is called to help the other heroes in the battle against evil — and discovers who he really is in the process — was inspired by the books “The Guardians of Childhood” by US author William Joyce.
“It’s a film based on children’s dreams, but is also grounded in their reality, so it takes place in an everyday town which could be just next door. Above all we wanted to respect the legends not ironise them,” Ramsey said.
Featuring the voices of actors Alec Baldwin, Jude Law and Hugh Jackman, the film tells the tale of the day the Boogeyman, known as Pitch, wages war on the gang, turning dreams into nightmares and tearing hope out of children’s hearts.
Wreaking havoc from the Easter Bunny’s lair to the Tooth Fairy’s kingdom, he leaves the heroes, who are the “Guardians” of imagination, increasingly weak — sparking inferiority complexes only overcome thanks to wild-eyed child belief.
“We knew we wanted Jude Law to voice Pitch from the start. He has such a seductive, velvety voice, just the sort of thing to project fear, which creeps up on you unawares and eats away at you,” director Christina Steinberg said.
While the yetis and elves running amuck in Santa’s workshop are suitably silly and the boomerang-throwing, Australian Easter Bunny is bound to be a hit with children, the characters feel one-dimensional and the plot lacks depth.
Pitch is a feebler version of Harry Potter’s demonic Voldermort, while the Tooth Fairy spends her time fluttering her eyelashes at dashing Jack Frost and falls victim to the cliche of the weak, female character who has to be rescued.
Unlike previous DreamWorks animations such as “Shrek” and “How to Train Your Dragon”, there seems to be little for adult viewers — though Guillermo del Toro, cult Mexican director and the film’s executive producer, disagrees.
“The film recaptures that feeling of curiosity, joy and hope that adults once felt,” he said.
“In a world where we live in constant fear of one type or another, we wanted to make something where everyone can just regress, even for a moment, and open up the doors to their imagination which they have slammed shut as adults.”
The festival, which winds up on Saturday, also drew crowds of children and teenagers to the international premiere of “Twilight: Breaking Dawn Part 2″ on Tuesday, where excitable “Twihards” were given vampire-themed gift boxes.
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