Film Review: Rise of the Guardians
Family animated movie that is full of genre convention but tries to do something different as well? We’ve seen that before.
Luckily, Rise of the Guardians is better than Brave.
TL;DR Combining beloved, pre-existing characters, amazing 3D action and a surprisingly existential sub plot, this is worthwhile kids crap. Shame it’s a bit meh by the end. 3 out of 5 stars.
A whole star better than Brave. Sometimes I think I’m too generous.
The plot mainly follows Jack Frost: the personification of, like, snow and shit (I live in Queensland, Australia. Ain’t nobody got the climate for that). When Pitch Black, the Boogeyman, threatens to destroy faith in the Guardians (Santa, Tooth Fairy, Sandman, Easter Bunny), Jack is called upon to help in the battle. Meanwhile, Jack searches for his memories and identity (he can’t remember his life pre-Jack Frost). Magic-mazing battle scenes and existential angst ensue.
Existential angst? What?
I think that’s really what sets this apart from the usual kids movie fluff. Although it does get resolved a bit too easily, the sub plot about Jack’s identity is effective at giving this movie a depth greater than “kids characters fight baddies.”
On the down side, that’s pretty much all this movie is: kids characters fight baddies. The pace is brisk, but the plot is thin.
Why I hate this movie:
The premise itself is a bit…icky? Is that the word I want. No, shallow. It’s shallow and awkward.
It’s all about how important it is for children to believe in these characters. But the fact that within a few years they’re gonna grow up and not give a shit is never addressed. The main kid they focus on has got to be, like, 7. He shouldn’t be believing in these things in the first place. It’s just, yeah, awkward.
Also, Christianity is never brought up. This is uncomfortable when the Easter Bunny goes on about how important Easter is. Santa is noticeably silent, too. Hmm.
Also, the kids stop believing when the tooth fairies don’t do their job and there are no Easter eggs to hunt. Fucking little selfish shits. It’s pretty much “We’ll only believe in you if we’re getting free stuff.”
Also, if magical beings are taking teeth and hiding eggs, what the fuck do the adults think is going on?
Pitch Black gets pretty rough treatment from the protagonists. His motivation is almost identical to Jack’s: “I don’t want to be invisible and not believed in.” Sure, he takes a more direct route to achieve his goals, but our heroes offer him absolutely no sympathy. It’s pretty tragic when he suffers the same horrible realisation of his immaterial self as Jack did at the start, and this is supposed to be a good outcome. Ouch.
They totally rip off E.T. at the end. Jack and the Guardians have to go and the kid is like “Oh no” and Jack touches him on his heart and says he’ll always be there. Not sure if homage or blatant theft.
Oh, and the take-home message of the film, delivered in the final voiceover from Jack, is fucking weird. It’s like “If the moon talks to you, believe what it says.” This is despite the fact that the moon decided Jack should be turned into an invisible loner for 300 years following his tragic death until the moon was ready to call him to action. Yeah, I’d say ignore that one, kiddies.
Reasons to watch:
It looks fucking unreal. I saw it in 3D. Didn’t regret it. There is no higher endorsement than that.
Not since the Once-ler have I found an animated character (Jack. Duh) so attractive. And it’s not pedophilia if he’s 300 years old. It’s all about being able to mentally consent. Stop looking at me like that.
The voice cast is pretty fabulous. Chris Pine is Jack, Alec Baldwin is Santa (with a Russian accent), Isla (‘Straya cunt!) Fisher is the Tooth Fairy, Hugh (also ‘Straya cunt!) Jackman is the Easter Bunny (gets to keep his Aussie accent, too), and Jude Law is the Boogeyman/Pitch Black.
Like I said earlier, the forgotten past sub plot with Jack was very welcome. It really gave something more to just “Avengers with Santa.” Also, it’s an interesting parallel to Adventure Time’s Ice King, who suffered a similar fate: used to be an ordinary human, tragic circumstances ensued, now he’s a powerful being in control of ice magic who is either ignored or scorned by most people. Not quite as tear-jerkingly sad as Ice King, who seems unable to recover his memories (the feels!), but any Adventure Time references are fine with me.
When the Easter Bunny loses power after Easter goes awry he reverts from his badass, warrior physique into standard bunny cuteness. But still has Jackman’s voice and feisty attitude. Sho cute.
Pitch’s minions are called “Nightmares.” They’re evil horse things. Pun.
Jack (as a human) died by falling into a frozen lake whilst saving his sister. Dat nobility.
Each of the Guardians gets to have a meaningful role within the plot, which was more than I was expecting: Santa has the info-globe which Pitch steals; Tooth Fairy’s tooth stash contains children’s memories, which Jack needs to remember who he is; the plot takes place around Easter, so Easter Bunny’s duty is important to the narrative; and Pitch’s power comes from a corrupted form of Sandman’s magic. Everyone matters! Suck that, Avengers.
Whenever anyone says “Pitch” (especially Ruskie-Santa), it sounds like they’re saying “Bitch.” I lol’d often.
Oh, and despite several characters and sub plots, the movie is thankfully short (just over 90 minutes).
The elements were there to make Rise of the Guardians something special. But it indulged too many near-identical action sequences, and too many niggling plot problems. But, you know, magic kids fantasy characters beating each other up. 3 out of 5 stars.