New Insight on the Upcoming Film, ‘Rise of the Guardians’

HitFix has given the great opportunity to eager fans to learn more about the upcoming DreamWorks film, Rise of Guardians. There’s a lot of new information on the otherwise very hush-hush project, including some details on Hugh’s character, the Easter Bunny. The film itself sounds very interesting with a lot of potential, being different from the more recent, rowdier animated features. I’ve included an excerpt of the article below, but please visit the source for the rest. A poster has also been debuted, which can be seen above. Enjoy!

What we don’t have is a better look at the art that we were shown during our sit-down conversation with the creative team. We were surrounded by images, including the Yetis who actually work at the North Pole. There are Elves too, little guys who wear their hats as full-body wardrobe, but the toys are made by Yetis who look like aggressively pissed-off pomeranians. We saw part of a sequence where the Easter Bunny and Jack Frost and the Sandman, who never speaks in the film except through sand shapes that he manifests around himself, all go to visit St. North at his secret home, and he ends up taking all of them on a wild sleigh ride, and even in a scene marked with some broad physical comedy and some wild CGI action, I was impressed by the sound of the film, the language of it, the elegance with which it lays out its fantasy world.

I guess I shouldn’t be shocked, then, that David Lindsay-Abaire (“Rabbit Hole”) is the screenwriter here. Working from extensive notes and ideas prepared by Joyce, Lindsay-Abaire was the one charged with actually pulling all of the material together into a film. This is the sort of ultra-high-concept idea that could easily be crass or noisy or phony, but it feels like they’re reaching for something here with some scope and some beauty.

I liked what I heard of Hugh Jackman’s Easter Bunny and Isla Fisher’s Tooth Fairy, and Chris Pine seems like a good fit as a sort of trickster spirit who starts to realize that his actions matter in the world and he can’t just keep floating along, never choosing a side between wrong and right, good and evil. Each of the Guardians is so different visually and in terms of environment that you get the feeling it’s a very big world in which these stories are going on.

William Joyce has been working on this project in one form or another for almost 20 years, and he’s intimately involved in every aspect of getting this franchise up and running. And likewise, Dreamworks is credited inside both of the books he just put out, and they’re the ones who signed on to handle every part of this big dream he’s got. They’ve teamed him up with the filmmakers I’ve already mentioned as well as Guillermo Del Toro, an executive producer on the film, and it seems like this is a group that has a real handle on what film they’re trying to make, and both the time and the talent to get it right if they want to.

Here’s the sort of ambition we’re talking about. The novel series is going to be 13 books long, and it’s not scheduled to finish publication until 2015. The movie is really just one moment in a much larger narrative that Joyce is shaping, and it’s somewhat appropriate, based on his ambition, that one of his characters is The Sandman. He doesn’t have anything in common with Neil Gaiman’s character from his seminal comic series, but this reminds me of the sort of reach that Gaiman’s series had, pulling in mythology from around the world, blending inspirations, styles, and sensibilities into something that Joyce hopes feels timeless and that speaks to kids who are trying to make sense of these characters.

I like that the film feels very different from the sort of bright comic adventures that most animated films aspire to these days. Each of the Guardians lives in very different worlds, with very different palettes, and as we were shown a few sequences and some design work and a rough trailer, we got to see the way the characters have evolved visually over time. The Tooth Fairy, for example, originally had a much stronger Hindu influence, classically Indian in design, but her finished design makes her look more like a hummingbird or a tiny parakeet. Jackman’s getting a chance to turn up the Australian as the Easter Bunny. He’s heavily armed and he’s got a swagger to him, designed as a long, lean, muscular character.

My favorite design has to be The Sandman, though. I love that he doesn’t speak, and he rides around on a cloud of golden sand, perpetually chasing the sunset, showering the cities below him with the very stuff of dreams. He’s played for comic relief in some ways, but he’s also very wise. It’s going to be interesting to see how these very different characters play off of one another, and how they face down the challenge of Pitch, the force of evil in the film.