Saturday, October 18, 2014

"Rise of the Guardians" Can't Rise to the Challenge

Rise of the Guardians starts off with an introduction to its main character, a teenage Jack Frost. He discovers his ability to fly and for some reason, decides to try and talk to people, and is shocked when they don’t reply. This is all thanks to the fact that people don’t believe in him, a large basis for this movie and its rather-large amount of plot holes.

At the heart of this movie is a reminder of something lost to the majority of us – our childhood. Setting out to make us recall who we once were - believers in the most fantastical characters of our past, DreamWorks Animation recruits 4 Guardians – Santa, the Tooth Fairy, the Easter Rabbit, and Sandman. They make up the Guardian quartet, although I haven’t heard of the last one. The premise is almost entirely based off these wonderful characters, who, while entertaining, are based off a generic character frame. How many times have we seen two characters in a group hate each other, then learn to love each other? Far too many. The Guardians have to suffer through dull, mentally painful sequences, making it hard to feel sorry for any of the characters.

In this modern-day world, children are “protected” by Guardians, but that’s not shown until Pitch Black, the boogeyman and villain, decides to introduce the world to his “Night-mares” – essentially bad dreams in horse form. Well played, well played. Thanks to his arrival, the quartet must unite, and with the help of Frost, defend against the evil that lies in the darkness.

The comparison and relationship between Jack Frost and Pitch Black is all too familiar especially due to their reoccurring meet-ups and Frost’s “neutrality”, as put by Black himself. Their introduction, conflict, and resolution is incredibly cliché.

Pitch comes from a not too unfamiliar background. His character invokes a bit of sympathy, seeing that he’s been alone and neglected for most of his past. Like the others, his character isn’t used to his full potential and we’re left with yet another generic character, except this time in villain form.

Like most animated movies, Rise of the Guardians is packed with witty comments and laughable moments to ensure that the mood is kept light enough for children. It has its fair share of background moments and running gags that are actually successful.  That’s about as good as it gets. Older viewers may question the movie’s absurdly large amount of plot holes, which will fly past children’s minds.

Rise of the Guardians’ is something akin to a fairy tale, but without the magic that accompanies those sorts of movies. This childhood tale proceeds only as an opportunity for Jack to discover himself. The writers can’t seem to evolve this movie into anything but a self-discovery story. Due to the consequences of not being believed in, the weakened Guardians result in consequences that are only sometimes enforced in certain scenes for dramatic purposes.

The movie has eye-catching and colourful animation, highlighted by the “Dreamsand”, which Sandman and Pitch Black utilize. The contrasting environments and characters allows for a variety of contrasting personalities to be introduced. The writers take advantage of this and give each character a unique identity. Rise of the Guardians is filled with epic combat sequences which are kid-friendly and visually appealing but which are diminished by its lackluster musical score.

Guardians, unfortunately, plays solely towards the younger portion of the audience. The contrasting colours and well-known characters and premise will attract their attention, not to mention the large fight scenes. Rise of the Guardians has a strong framework for a cash-grabbing sequel, along with well-known characters. However, it seems that the plot drags the movie’s potential into the depths of the earth. Much to the chagrin of older audiences, the story doesn’t rise to the challenge, and instead it comes across as cliché.

Rise of the Guardians might be a movie all about believing, but I can’t seem to believe that much effort was put into this movie.

Rise of the Guardians: C

Opening Date: November 21, 2012
Distributor: Paramount Pictures
Production: DreamWorks Animation
Voices: Chris Pine, Alec Baldwin, Jude Law, Isla Fisher, Hugh Jackman Dakota Goyo
Director: Peter Ramsey
Writer: David Lindsay-Abaire
Producers: Nancy Bernstein, Christina Steinberg
Executive Producers: Guillermo del Toro, Arin Finger, Tom Jacomb, William Joyce, Michael Siegel
Production Designer: Patric Hanenberger
Editor: Joyce Arrastia
Music: Alexandre Desplat

Adapted From: "The Guardians of Childhood", William Joyce
Rated PG, 97 minutes.

Deon Hua is the Head Reviewer at [blank]’s Films and the Editor-in-Chief at [blank]’s Universe. He is an avid video game and film reviewer and a fan of animated movies. His favourites? Beauty and the Beast and WALL-E. You can probably find Deon listening to a soundtrack somewhere.