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A few months back, James Rocchi and I spent the afternoon at Dreamworks in Glendale, talking to William Joyce, Peter Ramsey, and Christina Steinberg about their new film, "Rise Of The Guardians."
I walked away from that event thinking there was a good chance Dreamworks had developed a real winner here, and now the first trailer is available, and it certainly is pretty.
One interesting thing to note… the main character in the film isn't actually one of the Guardians. It's Jack Frost, who wakes up a la Jason Bourne at the start of the film, imbued with the magical powers of winter but not sure who he was or where he came from. His journey is the movie. The film starts with him underneath the surface of a frozen pond, waking up, stepping out, claiming the staff that gives him his powers, and heading off in search of an identity.
It's during that journey that he encounters Nicholas St. North, aka Santa Claus (voiced by Alec Baldwin), the Easter Bunny (Hugh Jackman), The Tooth Fairy (Isla Fisher), and the Sandman, who doesn't speak at all in the film. Jack Frost is played by Chris Pine. And yet, he's not in this trailer. There are actually shots in the trailer that have Jack Frost in them in the film, and in this trailer? They don't.
My guess is that at this point, Dreamworks just wants to sell the idea of the Guardians, this Justice League of childhood icons, and so they don't even suggest Jack's story here. You do get to see Pitch, the bad guy played by Jude Law, who wants to rid the world of the Guardians and cloak it in darkness.
Mainly, this suggests how closely Dreamworks has managed to bring to life the artistic vision of William Joyce. This trailer looks like his artwork, and Ramsey, the film's director, seems determined to craft this wondrous magical world where all these characters fit and seem appropriate inhabiting the same space.
Basically, it's "The Avengers" for the under-ten set, but the appeal of Joyce as a writer (his kids books are amazing if you're not aware of his work) is that he manages whimsy without being saccharine, and he respects the audiences he wriites for. This could well be one of the family events of the year, and when you add David Lindsay-Abaire on script duties (Pulitzer Prize winning playwright of "Rabbit Hole") and Guillermo Del Toro as a creative consultant, this is one that I look forward to sharing with my own kids later this year.
"Rise Of The Guardians" opens November 21, 2012.