Saturday, December 1, 2012

Rise (and Fall) of the Guardians


You'd have to be crazy not to have gushed over this film when the teasers came out months ago.  The premise was just amazing!  Mythical legends living in children's hearts and minds come together as The Avengers Assemble... the strawberry cupcake muncher edition.  I was drawn to that.  My kids were intrigued.  We were giddy at opening night.

So, did Rise of the Guardians rise to the occasion?  Yes!
Aaaand, no.

Let's start with the good news.  The character design was spot on.  Re-imagining childhood goody two shoes into badass action heroes is a fantastic feat!
The sad news is that the film falls flat in solidifying the characterization of each awesomely designed player.  I blame this on shoddy storytelling.  To elaborate...

Dreamworks did awesome, credible work transforming Santa Claus into a tattooed, sword-wielding, jolly Guardian of Wonder.  But not as much in bringing the good old magic of Christmas into play.  Santa should have been THE man.  He was, for the most part, funny.  But save for the first few minutes in his toy shop's office, was not as magical.

Presenting the Tooth Fairy as an elegant, spritely hummingbird was awesome.  Her being the Guardian of Memories by storing childhood pasts in extracted teeth... hmm, not too much.  Seriously, teeth and memories don't really click automatically and logically, ya know.  When she told Jack Frost that all Guardians had a normal past, that left a lot of questions, too.  So what or who were the other Guardians before? 

Turning the Easter Bunny into a lean, mean, boomerang-toting Australian Warrior and Guardian of Hope was rich.  His background of being the last survivor of the Pooka tribe (and therefore the backbone of him being the champion of hope to all) was terribly downplayed though.  It would've been made a richer set-up.

The Sandman as an adorable, huggable, whip-lashing Guardian of Dreams was just beautiful.  Making him the top bossman when it came to making the Boogeyman 'eat his dust' was lovely.  The part where the children resurrected him by re-believing in him was just not presented well enough.  AND it was supposed to be the turning point in the movie.

The great amount of time was poured into Jack Frost's identity crisis.  The movie was all about his hopes and dreams of being recognized after all.  I even liked how his character was brought up as a troubled, soul-searching teenager.  But for someone who's invisible to children, how was he able to carry the child Sophie in his arms? Hmm?

Finally, the Boogeyman --re-named Pitch Black in the movie-- had the best characterization in my book.  Although I would've liked it better if they had simply stuck to calling him The Boogeyman (that being more familiar to kids), he did have the best planned history, reason for being, and mission.  It's a little confusing how his Center and plan of attack danced between Fear and Sabotage, but I can let that slide. 

Oh, and who the heck was the Man in the Moon?!
Oh yeah, I'd have to read Willaim Joyce's book for that.

The intention of Rise of the Guardians was indeed huge and great.  I am all thumbs up at the underlying message of 'Finding Your Center'.  But the execution was just way too cluttered.  There were lacking set-ups, long drawn-out parts, and loopholes that even children in the audience raised their eyebrows to.

Just goes to show that no matter how brilliantly designed a movie character is, if the storytelling falls over the place --then the movie will teeter-totter between rising and falling.
It's still worth a watch though.  Do it for youthful nostalgia and your love for action.  To that, Rise of the Guardians rose fabulously.

Speaking of brilliant character design, I do loooove the Boogeyman's NightMares!  I want one. 

No comments:

Post a Comment