Rise of the Guardians appears in an aspect ratio of approximately 1.85:1 on this Blu-ray Disc. From start to finish, the flick looked amazing.
Sharpness seemed immaculate. Not a single slightly soft shot emerged in this tight, precise image. No issues with jagged edges or moiré effects materialized, and I witnessed no edge haloes or artifacts. Print flaws also failed to appear.
Colors delighted. The movie mixed a variety of palette choices; from warm and sunny to chilly and desaturated, we found a good variety of tones, and the flick always made them look dynamic and full. Blacks came across as dark and dense, while shadows appeared smooth and clear. I felt totally satisfied with this terrific presentation.
Though not quite as good, the film’s Dolby TrueHD 7.1 soundtrack also worked very well. With all the movie’s action, the mix gave us many active moments and lots of impressive sequences. Elements like North’s sled and the tooth fairies zoomed around the room, and other components – like Pitch’s nightmares – made strong use of the various channels. These all combined to form a well-integrated soundscape.
Audio quality was top-notch. Speech appeared distinctive and concise, without edginess or other issues. Music seemed robust and rich, while effects gave us clean, accurate information; bass response also appeared deep and taut. Everything here worked well to create an “A-“ soundtrack.
Rise comes with copious extras, and we launch with an audio commentary from director Peter Ramsey and producers Christina Steinberg and Nancy Bernstein. All three sit together for this running, screen-specific look at cast and performances, story/character areas, visual and character design, score, animation and technical issues.
While you'll learn a little about those subjects, you shouldn't expect many insights. Instead, happy talk dominates this commentary to an absurd degree. From start to finish, the participants gush about the great work done and what they love about the film.
When Ramsey claimed to be “super-critical” of the movie, I nearly had a stroke. Across the movie's 97 minutes, you’ll find maybe five minutes of actual film-related information – and that’s a big “maybe”. I won’t say this was the most tedious, least enjoyable commentary I’ve heard, but it’s close – I view it as pretty worthless.
Under Behind the Magic, we find a collection of four featurettes. With a total running time of 27 minutes, 43 seconds, we see “Dreaming Up the Look” (8:06), “Naughty and Nice: Designing Memorable Characters” (8:39), “Enchanting Effects” (5:32) and “Creating an Epic Score” (5:26). Across these, we hear from Ramsey, Bernstein, Steinberg, production designer Patrick Marc Hanenberger, executive producer Guillermo Del Toro, executive producer/author William Joyce, head of character animation Gabe Hordos, head of story Hamish Grieve, head of effects Yancy Lindquist, visual effects supervisor David Prescott, effects lead Stephen Wood, and composer Alexandre Desplat.
The pieces examine character, set and visual design, influences and inspirations, animation and effects, and music. After the painful commentary, “Magic” comes as a relief. While not the most in-depth examination of filmmaking I’ve seen, it covers its subjects well and offers a useful take on the topics.
Another featurette called The Man Behind the Guardians goes for six minutes, 25 seconds and includes notes from Joyce, Steinberg, Bernstein, and Hanenberger. We get notes about the development of the novel on which the movie’s based and other aspects of the story/characters. Joyce dominates and makes this an enjoyable view of his work.
For the final featurette, Dreamers & Believers fills 10 minutes, 47 seconds with info from Ramsey, Steinberg, Joyce, and actors Chris Pine, Alec Baldwin, Hugh Jackman, Isla Fisher, and Jude Law. “Dreamers” discusses cast, characters and performances. Like its predecessors, it gives us some good info, and I like the shots of the actors in the recording studio.
Sandy’s Dream Guide gives us an interactive feature. This presents a variety of potential dream subjects – like parents or castles – and interprets their meanings. It’s a cute addition for kids.
Two Blu-ray exclusive games follow. We locate Jack Frost Snowball Showdown! and Rock, Paper, Scissors with Sandy. In the former, you use your remote’s arrows to move Jack around the bottom of the screen to dodge/throw snowballs. Expect a tedious affair. For the latter, you play the old kiddie fave in either single elimination, best of three or best of five configurations. It’s simple and not much fun.
The disc opens with an ad for The Croods and Dragons: Riders of Berk. These pop up under Previews along with clips for Kung Fu Panda: Legends of Awesomeness, the Rise of the Guardians video game and Madly Madagascar.
Sneak Peek also provides a promo for Turbo. Worlds of DreamWorks Animation throws in musical snippets from Shrek, Madagascar, How to Train Your Dragon and Kung Fu Panda. No trailer for Rise shows up here.
A second disc delivers a DVD copy of Rise. It comes with most of the same extras found on the Blu-ray.
While not devoid of entertainment, Rise of the Guardians lacks consistency and usually falls fairly flat. It gives us occasional enjoyment but suffers from dull characters and a lackluster story. The Blu-ray comes with excellent visuals and audio as well as a decent collection of supplements harpooned by one of the worst commentaries I’ve heard in a while. Rise gives us passable family entertainment at best.