Rise of the Guardians

My feelings of this movie are similar to those of many other reviewers: It looks amazing, but the story isn’t the best possible.

The movie is about Jack Frost, who has been like a spirit of winter for 300 years, but unfortunately he can’t remember who he is and where he came from. Additionally, he suffers from the fact that people can’t see him. When the evil boogieman Pitch starts being all evil the four Guardians of Childhood (Sandman, Easter Bunny, Santa Claus and Tooth Fairy) must join forces with Jack to fight him, but Jack is not interested in teamwork and doesn’t want to get involved. Unsurprisingly he does get involved anyway, and learns a lot about himself in the process.

guardians

Review contains spoilers.

Let’s start with what I did like. As said earlier, the film looks outstanding. On our old tv screen it’s not that great, but in a movie theatre I was actually considering that for once it might have been worth it to buy the 3D ticket I tend to avoid since I always pick the cheapest option.

The film is incredibly creative and the world sucked me in right from the start. I was very interested in seeing the different headquarters and working methods the guardians had, and none of them felt annoying or pretentious. And they all had their own unique transportation methods, and then there were the assistants (I loved the yetis), and overall the movie was just so full of fun and new ideas.

I really liked the four Guardians (Jack Frost wasn’t that bad either, just not up to par with them). They all had distinct personalities and fun designs, I love Tooth Fairy’s design especially much. Jack Frost himself looked kind of bland and too much like pandering to a certain fanbase, but whatever, I guess it could have been worse. The relationships between the characters worked really well, or at least what we saw of that. I really would have loved to see more of that, especially anything that looks like a bromance.

bromance

What I also liked was how the standard things I dislike in a Dreamworks movie were completely missing. The film didn’t run on pop culture references, toilet jokes, stupid slapstick or snarky and mean characters. I like laughing with the characters much better than laughing at them.

Special mention to the scene where the characters help the Tooth Fairy to collect teeth after all her mini fairies have been captured, that was hilarious.

Then to the problems I had with the film. First of all, I can’t help it, but the subject is just incredibly… childish. The setting was so creative and the characters were lovable and interesting so I was able to get over the silly premise (Santa, Tooth Fairy, Easter Bunny and the Sandman have an adventure together!) very fast, but towards the end it just got cheesier and cheesier, and in the final scenes crashed the derp meter completely. It is possible to get me interested in the antics of Santa and Tooth Fairy, but when your entire story relies on the idea that CHILDREN MUST BELIEVE IN SANTA CLAUS…. eh, duuuuuurp. The movie keeps rubbing my face with “Oh no, the children do not believe in me any more!” “We will be fine as long as there is one child who believes!” “I’ve believed in you for a long time, Easter Bunny!”, and using an incredibly annoying ‘nice guy’ kid whose only characteristics is that he believes for it. Arrgh, I just can’t stand that pansy wide-eyed believer

jamie

And while we are at the believing subject, how come the kids stop believing so fast? Tooth Fairy is out of commission for one day, and suddenly no kid believes in her existence. What about, I dunno,  the kids who didn’t lose teeth during that particular time and thus shouldn’t know she’s not working? One year this Easter Egg hunt doesn’t go as planned, and then nobody believes in the Easter Bunny any more despite getting eggs just fine on the years before? What ungrateful brats.

The male/female character ratio was depressing with only one female character. Okay, Cupcake, Jamie’s little sister and Jack’s little sister were also female, but they had very few lines and aren’t exactly my idea of an interesting character. At least points for nonstandard character design for the Tooth Fairy, it would have been easy to make her just a pretty human like Jack.

The scene where Jack disappoints everyone by not being present when Pitch destroys the Easter eggs and thus ruining Easter feels incredibly forced every time I see it. Okay, you need the DRAMA, but sheesh, if you want a “you’ve let us down” scene, make it so that I believe that it actually was the character’s fault and not just a misunderstanding or over-exaggerating. Sure Jack should have been helping the others, but the way they act looks like Jack’s mere presence would have saved everything. Since when was he an expert on fighting the nightmare horses? Shouldn’t the fact that he found the bad guy’s lair be of any interest? Why does nobody try to talk about the situation? It didn’t really get much of a payoff either, when they regroup everyone is all chummy again.

How Pitch was dealt with in the end didn’t please me either. How he was defeated by kids not seeing him any more was creative and a lot more interesting than just blowing him up or something like that, but what bugs me is that nobody comments on his motivation. Okay he’s the bad guy and needs to go down, having a sad past doesn’t justify evil actions, there’s the parallel that despite being in a similar situation Jack chooses not to turn to scaring kids instead etc, but how the characters never consider that Pitch’s motivation ultimately stems from the exact same problem as Jack’s instead the good old “I’ll take over the world because I’m evil har har har!” is a bit annoying. You don’t have to reform him for a cheesy happy ending, just notice that while Pitch has to be stopped he might have a point in not wanting to be invisible to everyone and that it’s sad it has come to this instead of him having found a more peaceful way to deal with his problems.

The movie also had a lot of small things that made me scratch my head. Such as, what did Pitch accomplish by stealing the children’s memories anyway? And since it’s always night somewhere, how can Sandy be chilling with the other guardians so much? He doesn’t seem to have minions like the Tooth Fairy. And while I think that teeth preserving memories was a neat idea, the big plot point about Jack remembering his past felt weird. How do his teeth have memories about how he died? Did he lose teeth after drowning? Because teeth collecting your memories even after they’ve fallen off and transported to a whole new location is a quite a bizarre concept and not at all what I had in mind when the Tooth Fairy first explained the childhood memory business.

sleigh

Ranking this was a bit problematic. I didn’t like it as much as Despicable Me 2 so it should be on a lower tier as it, but Meh Tier is too bad, and Zzz tier is non-indicative; my problem is that I don’t like the plot rather than that I find it boring. So I ended up solving the problem  for creating a new tier, no idea if that’ll cause problems in the future (or actually, it already did, since I ended up publishing the Madagascar 3 review to the Passable tier before finishing this).

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