Rise of the Guardians

PhotobucketRise of the Guardians involves four characters from fairy tales: Santa Claus, the Tooth Fairy, the Easter Bunny, and the Sandman who appeal to Jack Frost to stop the Boogeyman from engulfing the world in darkness. It’s kind of a pan-holiday movie that takes place in the days leading up to Easter. It specifically concerns whether children still believe in these individuals. Anyone concerned that they might actually be confronted with something vaguely religious given, you know, the themes of faith in a higher power that this deals with, need not worry. The script has been purged of God or anything remotely theological. We do get the mysterious moon as sort of this inanimate object, however who has chosen Jack Frost to be a new Guardian. They each look to it for direction and guidance, the moon that is. Jack also wrestles with his greatest fear – that children won’t believe in him. Gee whiz. Self obsessed much?

I think the biggest problem with the Rise of the Guardians is that it flounders from a storytelling perspective. The plot throws these four fictional people together because, hey why not? One would’ve been enough, but four makes the narrative needlessly complex and overstuffed with backstories. There is no sense or charm to these oddballs. They’re recognizable portrayals, but then they aren’t. Jack Frost, our main protagonist, is a whiny teen consumed by the fear that people don’t affirm his existence. He sports a hoody and sounds like one of the kids on Wizards of Waverly Place. Santa has a Russian accent and is built like a bodybuilder with “naughty” and “nice” tattoos on his forearms. Huh? The tooth fairy flits around hummingbird-style, but talks akin to some over-enthusiastic mom. The Easter Bunny is a six-foot-one Australian and master of Tai Chi, as he’s quick to explain. Doesn’t seem to be helping because he’s a rather cantankerous fellow at that. Then there’s the Sandman. He was actually my favorite. He doesn’t speak at all.

Rise of the Guardians fails as an interesting story. Characters pop up at random times, do their thing then disappear. There isn’t any rhyme or reason to this mess. The dialogue is full of bland pronouncements that are so boring they don’t even register: “It is our job to protect the children of the world.  For as long as they believe in us, we will guard them with our lives,” says Santa at one point.  Zzzzzzzz. “Why me?” Jack asks when they select him. “You have something special inside. I can feel it… ” says Santa. That’s about as deep as it gets. There’s some breathtaking visuals to be sure and there are a few chuckles here and there, but the action is way too cluttered and frantic to truly appreciate the animated details. There’s lots of dazzling displays that the latest 3-D computer technology can muster, but it does nothing for the story other than to show how much money DreamWorks has to spend. I’ve always been a fan of Disney’s Sleeping Beauty. Pitch Black, the Boogeyman, kind of recalls a male version of Maleficent, the evil sorceress from that film (and the best Disney villain ever incidentally). I was really rooting for him in fact. There’s even a climatic battle featuring a sand glitter vs. black dust face-off between the Boogeyman and the Sandman. It was pretty at least.

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28 Responses to “Rise of the Guardians”

  1. With such dumb trailers, I was really flummoxed by some of the rave reviews for this one. Glad I know I can skip it now.

  2. Sorry to see you didn’t enjoy this one, I wasn’t blown away or anything but I was still pleasantly surprised. If anything my biggest annoyance was with the way writers for these sort of movies get super lazy when writing lines for “foreign” characters. I.e. “Just have the russians say russian stuff and the australians say australian stuff”.

    In any case I’ll be seeing Life of Pi later today, it’s looking to be a very pretty week as far as movie special effects go, lol

    • At least Hugh Jackman who is Australian was the voice of the Easter Bunny who speaks with an Australian accent, but Alec Baldwin as a Russian Santa? Everything was just so random.

  3. 2 stars? No…… I give it 3 1/2 stars. I thought it was funny, exciting and a little touching. Because it dealt with fictional characters I never even thought about religion or God.

  4. I thought the trailers looked kind of tacky but have heard some really liked it. I don’t think I’ll see it but maybe watch it if I saw it on TV. Nice review.

  5. Good review Mark. Not all that memorable or perfect for that matter, but still pretty fun and entertaining for the duration it’s up on-screen. I did get a bit tired of Law as the boogeyman, but everybody else was fine.

  6. Now this is more like it. Haven’t seen the film but I was very surprised with how well received this has been! It looks terrible and, judging from your review, it is.

  7. That’s a low score, having doubts now if I should take the kids to go and see this.

  8. I actually didn’t think this was that bad, I quite enjoyed it. I wasn’t expecting much going into it though, maybe that’s the key! I thought the characters by and large were interesting takes on the traditional variants, although i thought Pitch was pretty uninspiring. I also thought they missed a trick not setting it at Christmas seeing as that’s when it’s been released.

    • The characters were interesting, or bizarre really, but I wanted more details as to why they were so weird. Why were these four thrown together and why did they need Jack Frost. It just seemed so random, like DreamWorks wanted to spend a lot of money showing special effects and really didn’t care about a coherent story.

  9. I actually didn’t go to an advanced screening to this as I wasn’t too interested in the premise. Sounds like it’s more weird than fun.

    • It’s really weird, but not in a good way like ParaNorman or Frankenweenie. This was just really randomly bizarre. I mean take Santa Claus for example. He seemed more like a professional wrestler than Jolly Ol’ St. Nick.

  10. Thanks for the review! I have been on the fence about seeing ‘Rise of the Guardians’ for a while. My co-worker watched this movie and enjoyed it but I was unsure especially finding out Alec Baldwin plays a Russian Santa Claus. For a lot of people like me; the holidays are right around the corner and movie prices are too expensive for my pocketbook. I want to see this film, but I’m going to wait until this movie is released on DVD. I think this will be a good film to watch at home after the holidays.

  11. Great review! I’m not very into animated movies, the story really has to interest me to actually watch such film – with Brave I love all things Celtic so I give it a try and as a dog person I eagerly anticipate Frankenweenie, but as for Rise of the Guardians I’m not going to see it and it sounds like I’m not missing much 🙂

  12. Eh, I enjoyed it. Not the worst nor the best, but a decent flick that kids will love and adults can tolerate. I would have given it either a 6/10 or 7/10.

  13. Pretty sharp and detailed review (:

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