Ever since I first saw the trailer for Rise of the Guardians I have been ecstatic and excited for the movie to be released. With all the talks and previews being shown at CTN I just got more and more excited for the movie. Jack Frost is one of my favorite mythical characters and I loved the character designs of not only Jack but all the other guardians. While people have been speculating that Rise of the Guardians will be the holiday movie of the season I say that Rise of the Guardians is a fantastic movie that will be a long lasting favorite regardless of time. Once again, SPOILER ALERT.
Before getting into the movie, comes the movie trailers. Trailers are wonderful in their own way and I love seeing what is to come. Thankfully this time Dino Time wasn't shown. Unfortunately Dino Time just doesn't look like a very good movie in both the animation, shading, and lighting. The story additionally felt unappealing as it was a straightforward "stuck in the past from time traveling and need to get back to the future" without a hook that would catch the audiences' hearts. The new trailer that I haven't seen before is a movie set to be released in February 2013 called Escape from Earth. Aliens come to Earth, get captured and locked up in Area 51 so now they have to escape. Visually the movie looks decent. However, as I grew up with Disney princesses, fantasy, and fairy tales, I'm not much into sci-fi and aliens so it was not something that struck me as I have to see it immediately when it comes out. I wish Dreamworks would release another trailer for The Croods. Seeing all the artwork and the story behind the movie while at CTN, the trailer does the movie no justice. The beginning sequence with the father with the bear talking has always left me confuse and I have finally figured out why. It was the composition of the shots. In the short span of within half a second from where the father is facing the family and talking to when he turns around and smacks the wall to emphasize the death of the bear, he flips from screen right to left and back to right again which is extremely jarring. In addition to that, right after the son talks but the audience is looking at the father while the son has his back towards the audience which made it very confusing on who was talking. There is additionally visually stunning and appealing sets out there that we only get very short glimpses at currently. I didn't go see Despicable Me in the theaters when it first came out but I'm glad that I got to see it later on. Even though the story is simplistic, it was still heart warming and cute with the "It's so fluffy!" shot quickly being loved by everyone. Now Despicable Me 2 has a trailer out but the plot is extremely vague. Two minions are kidnapped in an alienistic fashion with a beam ray while another minion opens the door and makes a horrified face. Hoping for the best for the movie. I am hesitant on sequels though as not many are done well.
Rise of the Guardians is described as a holiday movie and Pete Hammond from Deadline Hollywood has called it "The Avengers of animated movies". However, I don't think that does the movie justice. Guardians isn't quite cliched and washy as holiday movies and the plot is way more than just defeating the antagonist. I would say that the armature for Guardians may be along the lines of "believe in yourself", "find yourself", and "you are here for a reason".
Opening with the Dreamworks logo, the classic fisherboy got changed out to Jack Frost and that little touch was fun and amazing.
Each of the characters have their own world that they come from and to set them all up adequately is a daunting task for to show them off each would take large portion of the movie and thus ruining the buildup of any story. However, Dreamworks did a good job with the worlds in that they are incorporated well into the story and through the action the audience was given a tour around the land showcasing their each individuality. North's base was a wonderful hustle and bustle of yetis, elves, and toys. As Pitch darts around the buildings where Tooth dwells we get to see all marvelous buildings. Bunny's world was a fun journey as the audience follows the eggs as they become painted.
The character designs were very appealing. First with Jack Frost, he looked the part of a fun loving and mischievous teenager. Good looking, too, which a handful of middle school girls who sat nearby also voiced and agreed. Tooth is beautiful with her jewel toned feathers that cover her body and along with her cowl and wings made an elegant silhouette. Sandy the Sandman was fabulous and stunning with all the bright golden sand shining and swirling around; both him and his sand looked like gold glitter. Easter Bunny was interesting in that he was this tall gruff looking rabbit but still looked soft and fluffy. The best part was later on in the movie, after losing his magic, he turned into this adorable tiny bunny and when he showed up everyone in the audience went "awwww". Last but not least is North, or more commonly known as Santa Claus by the children of the world. North is not the giant bellied twinkling eyed Santa that is more commonly known but a large ex-military Russian. Not only was North physically imposing when compared to the other characters but it was wonderful on how North's character was setup. With a Matryoshka doll, North describes himself to not only be fierce, caring, and so on, but deep down in his center he is a child with wide eyes of wonder. Each character were all visually stunning so it was somewhat unfortunate that towards the beginning when they are first seen all together that the camera is cutting back and forth and the characters are all talking and passing in front of each other that it made it very hard to focus on all of them. The effect succeeded in making the sequence look disorganized but as the characters were all just introduced I really wanted to be able to look and follow each one of them.
I felt like I connected a lot with Jack Frost and thus I teared up quite a few times during the movie, it was a roller coaster of emotions that rose and fell repeatedly. As the main character, Jack's initial setup was well done. His birth coming out of a frozen lake and the wonder and fun he has as he runs around experiencing and playing really gives a sense of child-like wonder which brings a smile to your face. However, when he finds out that no one can see or hear him you feel along with Jack as your heart falls. Seeing Jack again after a 300 year jump you feel the cocky and mischievousness that emanates from him. With 300 years to practice Jack shows off with the fast and controlled flight and deftness with his staff as easily flips it up with his foot and catches it. The problem that Jack has is that no one believes in his existence and thus he can't be seen. "Jack Frost nipping at your nose" is reduced to nothing but a saying. It was so sad when he was left out when all the guardians were in Jamie's room and Jamie, a child, was able to see Tooth, Sandman, Bunny, and North but not Jack. The pain of not being able to be seen was emphasized a lot throughout the film, particularly through Jack. Even though Jack and Bunny butted heads a lot, when it came to Bunny's turn to suffer not being believed in due to the failure of Easter, the pain could really be felt and shared. Bunny got hit hard from that event that when he came out in his small cute bunny form and heard that Jack helped made Jamie believe that true gratitude could be felt. I actually had tears coming out at this part. It was great what Jack brought to the group of guardians. Jack showed them the irony that while the guardians were so busy trying to protect the children of the world that they have stopped having fun and knowing how to be with children. Tooth expresses how much she misses being out in the field herself and that watching the children was her favorite part of her job.
Sandy was awesome. Not only does he have glitter all over but he completely owns Pitch in their battle. His dual whips are amazing. Sandy is this round little hovering ball that talks with pictures; he looks like the happiest person as he constructs dreams out of sand and send them to children that the very one-sidedness of the fight was surprising and a delight to watch. Similar to how Hulk just completely flung Loki around like a ragdoll in The Avengers. I was distraught when seeing him get shot by Pitch and taken over. The two whips just weren't enough against a horde of Nightmares and I felt like he could have done so much more. While it worked well story-wise the waves of sand made me think of Katara waterbending from Avatar: The Last Airbender. Katara has a neat trick where she bends the water into tentacles around her and she whips those all around her. That would have been amazing for Sandy to do. Thankfully, with the children's help, Sandy comes back and once again beats up Pitch.
The acting and animation was great. One particular shot was the how when North said that even though Jack holds the record for the naughty list, they are starting clean. As North says starting clean, he is brushing his right arm that has the naughty tattoo on it as if he is literally wiping Jack off the naughty list. I loved the facial expressions and emotions throughout the film for it caught a realistic subtly of emotions. When Jack found that Jamie was actually about to see him, the expression was not a simple joy but surprise, elation, bewilderment, shock, and wonder were all there on Jack's face.
I have to give a big hand to the artists who did the dynamics for they were stunning and beautiful. Jack's frost was beautiful. It was an elegant and swirling pattern like embroidery. Then there was all the particles for Sandy and Pitch. Not only does the sand have to flow, swirl, and scatter, but it has to come together to form various creatures and also as a method for Sandy to communicate. The sand was beautifully done and I was elated to find that Sandy came back towards the end of the film and show off his ability.
While I have mentioned that I've teared up a few times and the adorableness of the cute bunny version of Bunny, the movie also had hilarious parts that had the audience laughing out loud. There's the well known part shown in trailers where Jack calls Bunny a kangaroo, not only funny because while standing on two feet Bunny does somewhat resemble one, but Bunny is played by Hugh Jackman who is Australian. A reoccurring gag is a yeti who paints things. The yeti first paints all the toys blue but North wants them red, but when he paints all the Easter eggs red, Bunny wants them blue. As Sandy doesn't talk, when no one pays attention to him, he picks up one of the elves and shakes him, jingling the bell to get everyone's attention. The look of annoyance that Sandy has is priceless.
Sit through the credits and you get to watch the baby Tooths, elves, and Yetis help the the children back home. Cute and funny but the best part was when a Yeti autographed Jamie's book on mythical creatures.
This is definitely one of the best films of the year, enjoyable for all, and needs to be seen.