Monday, December 17, 2012

RISE OF THE GUARDIANS - Jack Frost will be believed in after this.

Rise Of The Guardians could have easily been pitched as The Avengers for children. It brings together many of the character/mythical creatures that children choose to believe in, and uses them as protectors of this imagination. Without belief they cannot exist. This crew are the Guardians and they are Santa Claus, the Easter Bunny, the Tooth Fairy, and the Sandman but in order to protect the children from the Boogeyman they must bring a new Guardian into the fray, Jack Frost. Alongside the famous imaginary characters we have some famous 'A-List' actors willing to lend their voices. Alec Baldwin voices Santa, Hugh Jackman the Easter Bunny, Isla Fisher the Tooth Fairy, and Chris Pine is Jack Frost. The Sandman doesn't speak and simply communicates via thought bubbles. The villain of the piece, the Bogeyman, is voiced by Jude law. In my eyes that is a pretty stellar cast and a film with this top talent and some imaginative characters can only mean one hell of a movie. Right?

Jack Frost is the character who leads this movie and in the prologue we see him surfacing from an iced over lake and learning that he now has powers to create ice and snow. However when he ventures to a nearby town he realises no one can see him and he is isolated and alone. Moving forward 300 years later we meet the four Guardians of the children, lead by Santa, who have just learnt that Pitch Black, the Bogeyman, has returned and intends on bringing fear to the children of the world, causing them to cease in believing in their heroes and instead believe in the Bogeyman. With the Guardians looking to the 'Man In The Moon' for help (the moon highlights solutions and meaning via shadow) they are given the one mythical character that can help them; Jack Frost. None of the Guardians are happy with this solution, especially since Jack causes more trouble than he is worth, but set out anyway to find him. Jack has turned into a fun loving character and creates snow days for children to enjoy themselves in regardless of the time of year; however the children don't believe in him which means he ultimately fails to exist. When the Guardians find him and take him to the North Pole he makes it clear that he isn't interested in working hard like the others do and simply wants to continue having fun. He gives in when Santa offers him a ride in the sleigh, now what fun loving child wouldn't want a ride in Santa's sleigh, and on route they find Pitch has removed all the teeth (which carry children's memories) from the Tooth Fairy's mountain meaning the children are beginning to not believe in her. With Tooth now disappearing the Guardians must fight to keep children's imaginations afloat whilst also stopping Pitch from turning Sandman's dreams into nightmares, and all can only be done by the one uninterested party and the one the children fail to believe in; Jack Frost.

Now I have to say I think the plot sounds marvellous. It is fun, original, and brings together all the characters we all believed in as a child. What more do we want to see at Christmas? The Guardians all group together well and the banter between them all is a lot of fun. These aren't your usual interpretations of the characters though. Santa is called North, covered in tattoos, and Russian. The Easter Bunny is called Bunny, is Australian, and grumpy. The Tooth Fairy is an avatar looking creature who sends smaller fairies out to collect the teeth, and the Sandman is a mute but tough as an ox. These different interpretations are simply splendid and create a whole new world for a child's imagination. It isn't just the children in the film who are inspired it is also the ones in the movie theatre. One of my pet hates is children in the cinema as they usually can't keep quiet or still but in Rise Of The Guardians they were mesmerised and not a peep was heard. That can only state that this film really did capture the world of a child's imagination. My initial worry would be that the darker sides of the film might have frightened them but it didn't in the slightest. The film even opened on a dark tone, an opening that I thought was excellent, where the first word is 'darkness' and the floating body of Jack Frost is the first image. For me this opening completely gripped me and by the sounds of it, it did for the children.

Unfortunately though it did go slightly down hill after this fantastic opening. From the trailer I was expecting to see something darker than your typical children's movie but instead this is closer to an all out children's movie than the likes of Shrek, Monsters Inc., and Finding Nemo are. Those films at least had some adult references in there which made the parents love them as much as the children. This film though is pushed mainly toward children with the humour coming from typical visual gags as opposed to any quirky dialogue. For a child this won't be a problem but for me it was as animated films have become aimed toward children and adults over the past few years but I feel like this one was not. The writing was also very generic and you could guess at each point the certain arcs and story twists were coming, and as it was aimed at children they felt no need to explain random moments that take place in the film. It was as if to say the kids won't know any different but I beg to differ, I reckon they do. I'm sure they will be asking why it was snowing at Easter, considering the film is set around Easter and not Christmas which I found slightly odd, and they may even ask why the Easter Bunny is so grumpy. Certain aspects of the film just seemed out of place, like it was weird it was set at Easter and not Christmas considering the time of year it has been released, and that Santa begins as the leader of the Guardians but ends up being the buffoon of the group and is the only Guardian who is never really characterised. The ending is also far too easy and too many tired cliches are used. By the end it has moved from a fantastic opening visual, with great direction to a tired script and a film made abundantly for children.

For kids this film will blow their minds, and it will hold their attention span. A parent will only be going to keep them happy as, although it is enjoyable, it isn't as amazing as other films DreamWorks has made. The visuals are good but again aimed more for children with the 3D and the characters being a lot of fun. I would recommend this film; I think people should see it at least once. It has some great moments, especially visually, and it is a film many will enjoy. Just don't expect the next Toy Story as you will be thoroughly disappointed. For a young child however this film will be the best they have ever seen and taking them to see this could be an early Christmas present by itself.

Pros: Great visuals and a great idea. The opening five minutes are particularly well done.

Cons: Too much of it is aimed towards children resulting in some poor plot devices and tired cliches being used.

6.5 / 10

 Top 10 of 2012 so far:

1. The Dark Knight Rises     10 / 10 
2. Argo     9 / 10 
3. Skyfall    8.5 / 10
4. Silver Linings Playbook     8 / 10
5. The Hunger Games     8 / 10
6. Snow White And The Huntsman     8 / 10
7. Avengers Assemble     7.5 / 10
8. Looper     7.5 / 10
9. Ted     7.5 / 10
10. 21 Jump Street     7.5 / 10 

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