Rise of the Guardians is property of Dreamworks.
Hello, Spongey here.
Easter is once again upon us, which means I must do an Easter review! Yeah, who knew there more than one Easter movie I could review. I actually found out about a few obscure contenders, but I went for this one.
No, it’s not Easter themed but it has the Easter bunny and one bit does feature Easter, so there! Besides, don’t you want me to review something GOOD for Easter instead of Hop 4 or something?
….Don’t answer that.
Anyway, I guess it’s also time to tackle another Dreamworks movie. In recent years, the studio has taken a more dramatic turn, focus on more epic things instead of just pop culture references. I’ve always liked Dreamworks but I’m glad they are doing films like How To Train Your Dragon instead of movies like Shark Tale.
So in 2012, they decided that the only logical thing to do was give us something can only be described as Avengers with classic icons that include Santa. ….Yeah. This has some hype, (since Dreamworks is good at marketing the hell out of their movies) thanks to the premise, and the fangirls for the male lead. Still not as bad as the Once-lor fandom.
Despite all of that, it under performed in the US, and while it made it’s money back overseas, it was still a failure. So much so that it lead to some layoffs at the studio. That really sucks.
It got decent reviews, but it was surprisingly mixed in some areas, as a few people felt it was only so-so in the story department. It still has a follow, but it looks like we sadly won’t get a sequel out of this.
It was based off a book series by William Joyce, whom you will recall as the insane genuis behind Rollie Pollie Ollie. It doesn’t have much to do with the books, but Joyce actually wants film versions of his work to be different. (Which explains Meet The Robinsons and Epic). Wait, he’s worked with Dreamworks, Disney, and Blue Sky. So…i guess Sony’s next?
Anyway, I myself really enjoyed this one, and I thought it was another example of how 2012 was a great year for animation. The fact that this would only be number 5 or 6 of my list of the best animated films of that year proves that.
But why is it so good? Why didn’t it do well despite it looking awesome? Let’s find out!
This, is Rise of the Guardians
After an awesome version of the Dreamworks logo with Jack Frost, the movie opens with some narration by our hero Jack Frost, voiced by Chris Pine, as he tells us that the first thing he remembers is darkness, as he rises from the ice on a cold winter night.
Young Jack didn’t remember or know anything, but after waking up he discovers he has ice powers. Then he accidentally freezes his sister and he has to hide his powers from-wait, wrong movie.
With his epic stick thingy, he makes Ice and stuff until he stumbles upon a village, only to discover that no one can see hear, or touch him.
“My name is Jack frost. How do I know that? The moon told me so”
…I’m sure it did. …HELP, THERE’S A CRAZY PERSON ON THE LOOSE!
We cut to 300 years later, as we see Santa Claus up in his workshop. Except this Santa is badass, Russian, and voiced by Alec Baldwin. A very different Santa but he’s also a very awesome Santa. Alec Baldwin does a good job, as you can’t tell it’s him.
Santa gets some cookies from his elves….who barf it up because these elves throw up cookies. What is with my Easter reviews and food coming out of people’s bodies?!
Anyway, he is uninterrupted when he finds out that some evil thing is going around the Earth or something. He turns on some beacon which calls some other characters into action. First up is the Tooth Fairy, voiced by Isla Fisher.
She’s a very odd tooth fairy. I mean, just look at her design. You’d have the movie to get it, but she is pretty cool and she has an awesome looking HQ that we will see later on. Next up is Sandman (called Sandy) voiced by no one cuz he doesn’t talk. But he can make stuff with his sand powers, which is cool enough.
And last but not least, is the Easter Bunny, voiced by Hugh Jackman. Yep, this Easter Bunny is a badass Australian dude and he is AWESOME. The three arrive at Santa’s workshop, as he tells them that their old nemesis, Pitch is back.’
So Santa, will be fighting a dude named Pitch. …..I really hope Merlin and the robot reindeer don’t show up.
Santa talks to the man in the moon. Yeah, that explains Jack’s comment from earlier. The moon (which doesn’t talk, so how does the man even work?) confirms that Pitch is indeed back. He….er…it, also “tells” them that there shall be a new guardian to help them….Jack Frost.
Wolverine isn’t happy, presumably because he expected Ish. There, I made an NFL Rush Zone joke, happy?
Actually, he is pissed because they know Jack and he is a loner that plays prank and doesn’t care about the guardians. We cut to Jack as we see him making a Snow Day for some kids in a town. Yeah, he’s a real punk.
By the way, some kids mention an Egg hunt, so why are they not shocked that snow is there in April or whatever? Jack hears a kid ask who Jack Frost is, so he hits the kid with a snowball, and since he can’t see Jack, the kid ends up staring a snowball with some other kids. I would normally say “Our hero” but it makes a bit more sense in context.
The kids end up having a lot of fun but even after Jack saves this one kid, their attention moves to the Tooth Fairy as a kid’s tooth falls out and he mentions her.
‘Whats a guy gotta to do get some attention around here?”
I’ve heard complaints that Jack Frost is “bland” but it disagree….to an extent. While he does up being the cliché dude who joins this group that he wants no part in, he is an interesting character. He has to deal with the fact that no one can see hm and as much as he loves doing what he does, he would prefer to just have some real friends or something.
He gets even more interesting as we learn his full backstory but we’ll get to that later. While I’m doing that “critic-y” thing, i’ll mention that the animation is fantastic. Some of Dreamworks best, infact. We see some really creative things with each characters powers, and it leads to some really beautiful moments. Everything looks great and it’s especially good during the action scenes.
That night, two kids are visited by Pitch who is pretty much the boogeyman, voiced by Jude Law. He’s a pretty cool villain, especially in this scene as we see him work his dark magic on the sleeping kids. He gives kids bad dreams and he spreads fear and evil and stuff.
While that is going on, Jack is approached by the Easter Bunny, He pretty much kidnaps Jack and takes him to Santa’s workshop. He meets up with Santa.
“I love being shoved in a sack and shoved through a magic portal”
“Oh good, that was my idea”
Santa tells Jack that he is now a guardian, but naturally he doesn’t wanna be one. But they tell him about Pitch and that the moon picked Jack personally. And when the moon tells you to do something, you better do it. ….Maybe I should have made a Luna joke earlier.
Jack is still a little skeptical and the Easter bunny doesn’t want him here anyway. The guardians’ goal is to protect all children who believe and while Jack brings joy to kids, no one believes in him. Sorry, but I’d sooner believe that a guy with ice powers exists, than believe that a guy who leaves that go bad when you don’t find them exists.
“I’m the bunny. The Easter bunny. People believe in me”
…It’s the voice that makes it awesome.
Santa shows Jack his workshop, where Yetis make the toys, and the elves just deliver them. Yeah, I wouldn’t let creatures that barf cookies make my presents either.
After a pep talk from Santa, they hear that there is trouble over at the tooth fairy’s place so they hop in Santa’s sleigh so they can go check it out. This is mostly so we can get an awesome flying scene, which is awesome. When they to the Tooth Palace, they see Pitch’s minions causing havoc. The baddies end up taking the Tooth Fairy’s worker fairies and all of her teeth. I’m not sure what use teeth have for bad guys, but whatever.
Pitch shows up to gloat about how evil he is, and he reveals that in the dark ages, he spread evil but the man in the moon picked the guardians to spread cheer to people and thus, people stopped believing in the boogieman, and he was defeated. So how does this man in the moon thing work? I have yet to see a good explanation of who he/it is. What qualifies “him” to be the Nick Fury in all of this?
Pitch tells them that kids around the world woke up to find no money under their pillows, and thus they no longer believe in the tooth fairy. Okay, two things:
1. Why did they need to take the teeth for this? We never saw them take any money, and while we’re on that, where does she get the money anyway?
2. They have had money under their pillows consistently but she skips a night, they just forget the other times? Unless these are young kids that haven’t lost any teeth that. In that case, it’s awfully convenient that a lot of kids lost their teeth around the same time so that this can happen.
Pitch leaves after he gloats some more.
“Why did pitch want the teeth?”
“It’s not the teeth., It’s the memories inside them?”
“What do you mean?”
“That’s why we collect the teeth, Jack. They hold the most important memories of childhood. My fairies watch over them and when someone needs to remember what’s important, we help them. We have everyone’s here.”
Seems needlessly complicated, but it’s cool.
Somehow through this, Jack finds out from Tooth Fairy that had a full life before he became Jack Frost. Jack’s memories are in one of the teeth, so now he really wants to get them back. So the guardians head out to get the teeth from the kids who have yet to wake up cuz I guess only the Japanese kids got up. That makes sense, I guess.
The whole scene where they go inside kids houses to get the teeth is pretty awesome, and we see the gang have a bit of fun together. Pitch catches find of this and he is pissed because he somehow didn’t expect his enemies to try to stop his plan.
Back with the Guardians, we find out that the Fairy herself stopped doing her rounds and the other fairies have been doing it inside. But now that she’s at it again, she wonders why she stopped in the first place.
After that little moment, they visit the house of this one dude that Jack kind of liked but said dude doesn’t believe in Jack Frost. Also, the kid is voiced by the guy from The Haunting Hour episode Flight. Though you may remember him from Reel Steel, which had Hugh Jackman, coincidentally.
The kid catches them but he doesn’t see Jack for obvious reasons. After some wacky hijinks, they leave and have an awesome flying scene. But things go sour when Pitch shows up to capture Sandy. Pitch gets his ass handed to him (who knew the Sandman could be badass?) but after an amazing action scene, he ends up overpowering the little guy. Seriously, there is this big fight with the Guardians and Pitch’s minions that is just epic and even suspenseful.
Pitch leaves, and we get a somber moment as they now are without Sandy. First, Pitch took the teeth, now he took Sandy. You actually feel bad for things guys as shit is hitting the fan. This is one of those movies that throws crap at our heroes, and raises the stakes, thus making us care for them. Stuff like this only just to my enjoyment of this awesome film.
A bit later, Jack sulks as he tells Santa that he wishes he could have done something. Yeah, it’s that cliché and to make it worse, Jack has is hoodie up here. A Hoody is a clear sign of trying to make a character hip (See: Live action Alvin and the chipmunks) but this is a case where it really doesn’t matter. Like I said, people call Jack bland, and why he dabbles in cliches, he’s way better than most character of his type.
Which is why he has fan girls. Again, still not as bad as Oncelor. After a pep talk from Santa, they find out that Pitch’s power is growing and the balance is being broken. They go the Easter Bunny’s HQ, but this little girl (the sister of the Reel Steel kid, I think) winds up there. Guess she stowed away somehow.
She isn’t a nuisance though, because she doesn’t mess things up and the guardians let her hang out a bit as they make eggs for Easter The Guardians bond together through this and while this is a tad cheesy, it is kind of sweet.
Jack heads out to take the girt home but he hears a voice from a Forrest, calling his name. He goes in the direction of the voice, and he conveniently ends up in Pitch’s hideout where the faries are.
Pitch catches him but he simply talks to Jack. He tells him that Jack’s greatest fear is that no one will ever believe in him, and Pitch says he has Jack’s memories, which will explain everything. He doesn’t give it to him though, and instead he has his minions take all the eggs that the bunny hid, so that the kids no longer believe in him.
Ignoring Pitch’s “plan” here, let’s bring up this bit again: There’s no eggs this one time, and they just forget all the other times? On top of that, why don’t the parents ever question the fact that eggs show up every year? And why didn’t they just do it themselves in any case? This really makes no sense.
Jack returns to the Guardians but they find out that he was with Pitch and thus he was not there to help. Or something like that, I think I missed something because it seems like Jack caused this somehow and that is they are a bit miffed at him.
“Easter is new beginnings. A new life. Easter is about hope’
And Jesus but we can leave that part out. Also, told you this was an Easter movie, even tough people see it as a Christmas movie and it even came out in November, which is when they release some Christmas films for some reason.
Anyway, the point is, Easter is ruined, Jack screwed things up, and Pitch is far from gone. Jamie, the Reel Steel kid, is bummed to find out that his friends have lost faith in the Easter Bunny (THE POWER OF BUNNY COMPELLS YOU and are having awful nightmares. Meanwhile, Jack heads out to sulk and he bumps into Pitch again.
“I know what it’s like, to be cast out, to not be believed in, to long for family”
Yep, our villain is doing that thing where he tries to tell the hero that they are very much alike, so the hero can join him in evil. It works here due to Jack’s whole thing about not being believed. It’s cliche but it has a place here.
I forgot to mention that one of Tooth Fairy’s workers escape Pitch’s claws, but the Pitch shows Jack that he has the little fairy now. After a brief fight, Jack tells Pitch to piss of, so he gives “Baby Tooth” back to him and he leaves. That had a point to it.
Jack hears that voice again, meaning it was not coming from Pitch or anything like that. It’s coming from this memory stick that Pitch showed him earlier. Jack took it and now he’s activating it so we can finally find out his backstory.
A whole bunch of years ago, Jack lived in this icy village with his Mom and sister. They end up on this ice rink place (the same one Jack rose from at the start of the movie) because Jack leads the sister there, promising her that this isn’t a trick. They play hop scotch on the ice, which is an idea that goes about as well as you’d expect.
They have fun until she falls through the ice. Jack dove in after her, and while he did save her, the moon picked that moment to freeze him so he can become an immortal guardian. There might be more to it in context, but I don’t get why the moon did this when he could have either done it without freezing him, or just “Told” him all this. There was no reason to keep him in the dark.
But despite my nitpicking, it’s a decent enough backstory and we see why Jack became a guardian, and the thing with the sister was a tad sweet. While this is happening, Pitch attacks Santa’s workshop.
Some people have complained about the pacing and….i see what they mean. We are now 69 (don’t) minutes in and things have just gone up in down in terms of events happening. Only now has Pitch really done a lot and now he storming the workshop so we can get to the climax. But I think the pacing isn’t THAT bad and even when things are sloppy, the animation picks up the pace.
Pitch reveals that there are only 5 children left who still believe. Wait, so no eggs or teeth effected Santa somehow? Because, even as I kid, I put way more stock in Santa than some dumb bunny or fairy?
The number drops down to 1: Jamie. Jack (who ended up back at Santa’s workshop to hear this) heads to his house and he sees the kid talking to a stuffed bunny, pleading for a sign that the Easter Bunny exists. He kind of gets a sign, as Jack ices up his window, which the kid sees.
Ice=Easter Bunny. Logic!
Okay, Jack draws a little bunny which somehow comes to life a little flying hologram….thing. But you know, it’s still odd. All the ice gets Jamie to think of Jack Frost, and boom, he believes. And because he believes, he finally sees Jack. It seems like every scene with Jamie is almost cheesy but overall sweet.
Jack tells Jamie that the guardians are real, and he proves it by taking him to the guardians, who are here now. Also, losing Easter made the bunny tiny and cute because reasons. Wolverine perks up when he hears that Jack helped Jamie believe, but Pitch shows up to stop the party.
Jack tries to fight him off, but now the baddie is too strong. Pitch starts to overtake them but Jack the others distract him and head outside where they rally up some kids. Jack makes Jamie fly which quickly gets them to believe a little bit.. Through this, they see the other Guardians and realize that they are real.
Pitch isn’t exactly intimidated by little kids,but Jack says he will protect them.
“Who will protect you?”
Jamie grows some balls by answering with “I will”. The other kids follow but Pitch is still not scared as throws more minions at them.
“I believe in you, I’m just not afraid of you”
The guardians proceed to get their power back thanks the kids, and an epic battle ensues. Pitch may have an army, but they have a Bunny. After his minions are taken down by the power of little kids, Pitch steps up his game by attacking Jack head on.
But then Sandman comes back because I think he actually kind of died earlier. I wasn’t paying a ton of attention so don’t ask me what happened. Sandy uses his power to give us some breathtaking visuals, while also helping some kids in the process.
All of the kids start believing for real and are so distracted by their fun that they ignore Pitch, who is in shock over what is going on.
“You are have fun in my presence?!”
Pitch tries to scare the kids….but they can’t see or hear him. Yeah, they …somehow don’t beeleive in him anymore. I guess it would make more sense if you watched the movie and payed more attention, but it is a bit odd.
Still, it’s an interesting moment and to a small extent, I kind of feel bad for him. Though this is only the 2nd biggest Boogeyman breakdown ever.
“You cannot get rid of me! There will always be fear?”
“So what? As long as one child believes, we will be here to fight fear”
To make this even more badass, Pitch’s dark hose minions show up….because they represent HIS fears. So Pitch is pretty gone for good until the seq-oh wait that’s not gonna happen. DAMN YOU AMERICAN MOVIE GOERS!
So….that wasn’t much of a climax. Yeah, my lackluster coverage made it seem less epic, but it does feel a tad anti climatic for an action-ish movie. However, it does kind of work in the context of the movie, and like I said, my coverage undersold it..
And so Jack is officially sworn in as a guardian, now that he has found his core: fun. Yeah, Santa went over this core thing earlier but I skipped it because I really suck at this job lately. After a fun celebration, Jack says goodbye to Jamie in a bit that is a tad cheesy to be honest, but it kind of works I guess.
The guardians fly away, now that have saved the day, and Jack has found his place
“My name is Jack Frost. I am a guardian. How do I know that? Because the moon told me so”
Still don’t sound crazy.
“So when the moon tells you something, believe it”
The moon told me that Ziago the conqueror will kill us all. The moon is always right!
Anyway, the movie is over. Eh, the ending works fine, I guess, but it does make me want a sequel to further develop the characters. What else was out at the time that people were more interested in?
Let’s just move on to-wait….Guilmero Del Toro is credited as a writer. What?! He must not of had much input given the lack of that….Toro-ness, but still, that’s awesome!
After reviewing this, I can see some of the issues people have with it, but screw it, I still like this film a lot. Yes, it has it’s cliches, the pacing is off at times, and some parts make no sense. But the film makes up for it with it’s never ending creativity and awesomeness.
The animation is simply gorgeous, giving us some of Dreamworks best animation since Dragons. It’s so good that it carries the film in it’s weak spots. The action scenes are especially awesome and the score is good too.
The story is perfectly acceptable. It keeps things simple, and it has it’s fair share of cliches (the entire “stop the villain by not believing in them stuff) but it does give us creative bits. It’s not the best story ever, but it serves the movie well. Though the film seems to switch between being an action movie like the Avengers, or a more typical kiddie flick. But both sides mesh well enough, given the story.
The characters are very much the highlight of the script. They don’t get a lot of develop, but they are a fun bunch. They give us some awesome updates of classic characters, with the badass Easter bunny being my favorite. But I also love badass Santa, weird Tooth Fairy, and silent Sandy. They aren’t that complex, but they are still fun enough.
Jack is a solid enough hero, with some complexities here and there. Yes, he can be bland st times but he was good enough for me. Jamie was the weak link, giving us some of the weakest, yet also sweetest moments in the film. He is a tad pointless to an extent, but there is a reason he is there. Did I just contradict myself?
Pitch is a pretty solid villain, with his threatening nature, and Jude Laws, performance. He is spooky enough, even if he is kind of one dimensional.
The movie has it’s misfires, but it is a pretty good movie overall. It has a lot of creativity, a serviceable story, fun characters, and some great animation. It’s not one of Dreamworks best, but it is brimming with fun, creativity, and heart. A did a crap job of covering some parts, but will just get you to watch the movie to see some of the stuff I skipped!
If you missed this in theaters, you can still check it out on your small green. It’s easily the best Easter movie ever made. At least until Hop 2:: Return of the king comes out.
Next time, I’ll look at another animated film, but this one is far less epic. But it does have a fairy, so there is that.
See ya, and Happy Easter!