Sunday, August 11, 2013

Movie Review: Rise of the Guardians

Title: Rise of the Guardians
Author: DreamWorks
Genre: Fantasy, Animals, Christmas, Easter, Animation
My Rating: ****
Official Rating: PG (for thematic elements and some mildly scary action)
Age Group: 10+

Jack has no idea who he is, and no one else does either. There's a very simple explanation for that last problem: they can't seem to see Jack. Indeed, Jack has powers any kid would love (Jack Frost that is) and has a great time running about and using them, but no one can see him. He's all alone.
Kind of like Pitch Black. See, he's the Boogeyman, and he's real.
So are Santa Claus (North), the Easter Bunny (Bunnymund), the Tooth Fairy (Tooth), and the Sandman. They make up an elite group called Guardians who protect children, give them hope, and pretty much just keep them happy kids who are not consumed by fear.
Unfortunately, Pitch Black is tired of not being believed in, and he's got a plan to remind everyone that he exists. When this plan puts the Guardians and the kids in danger, they turn to the Man in the Moon for guidance.
Moon sends them Jack. What was Moon thinking?!


Word of Warning
  • Santa Claus, the Easter Bunny, the Sandman, the Tooth Fairy, and Jack Frost are assumed real, portrayed as real, and the whole story depends upon them being real. In contrast, they are portrayed as very different compared to most kids' views. In fact, the Guardians aren't even very good with kids because it's been so long since they played with them.
  • Pitch Black is scary. He creates nightmares, both the kind in a dream and the kind that are black horses made of sand that chase down people and attack them. He creates fear.
  • Jack's past involves him falling into a hole in the ice to protect his sister. She is saved, and he drowns (almost).
  • Jack and Bunnymund have their differences (mainly because Jack is bored and annoying with no one to play with) and argue often.
  • The Tooth Fairy has little tooth fairies working for her. They seem to have a thing for Jack, and can barely keep from fainting when he's around (which, all things considered, is rather funny since they fit in his hand). Tooth also seems to like him, though it's more subtle (a hug once, a conversation another time). Jack apparently feels the same (toward Tooth, not her fairies) and returns the hug, the conversation, and is quite chivalrous to her, but nothing more.
  • Various battles are fought between Pitch, the Nightmares, and the Guardians.
  • Jack wants nothing to do with responsibility and being a Guardian. He's selfish and simply wants to know his past. He feels like without knowing his past, he doesn't know who he is.
  • Pitch is consumed (yes, attacked, eaten, disappears, etc) by the nightmares he created.
  • Jack is reckless and though the kids he plays with never actually get hurt, they do encounter some pretty crazy situations, and one even looses a tooth after a couch hits him (he's not hurt). He sends a kid sledding down a street but makes sure the kid doesn't hit any cars, following along beside him. The cars, on the other hand, do bump into each other a bit in the background.
  • Tooth terrifies a little kid by showing the child teeth with a bit of blood and gum still on them (not at all graphic), trying to make the kid happy. Obviously this doesn't work out, proving once again that the Guardians are not very good with kids anymore.
  • Bunnymund says "bloody" and "crikey."
  • The Sandman is stabbed with a sandy black spike made by Pitch, which slowly turns Sandman into black sand and he eventually disappears.
  • When kids stop believing in the Guardians, the Guardians lose their powers.
  • North and Bunnymund seem to have an age-old argument going about what's more important, Christmas or Easter.
  • Kids run around with the Guardians at night and their parents apparently have no idea what's going on. This particular night involves a battle with Pitch and then lots of fun and frolicking in the snow and witnessing a oath-taking ceremony for Jack.
  • Easter ceases to exist because there are no eggs. It's apparently about hope and new beginnings, but it's nothing with new eggs. I think it's safe to assume the same would happen with Christmas.
  • Christianity is lacking from the film, which is slightly disturbing given that North and Bunnymund are involved in the two biggest holidays (read: Holy Days) of the year.
My Thoughts
It's fun. Jack's struggle is tough and sad, but nicely done and in the end he does save the day.
What more is there to say? It was a unique twist on all these different classic characters. The storyline was exciting and fun and Jack was a relatively new addition for this story. The animation was fantastic.
But then, in the end, it's just a story. It feels like one of those picture books at the library that has no point. There's no moral, no message, not even a striking end. The funny thing is, this movie had a very strong message: don't stop believing in _______(fill in the blank however you like).
Without Christianity to back up that message, it disappears into the air just as quickly as Sandman's good dreams, or Pitch's nightmares.

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