Review: ‘Rise of the Guardians’ is not furry Jesus
On the way to Rise of the Guardians, I noted that, between Santa Claus and the Easter Bunny, the two most important days in the Christian year were covered by members of the titular Guardians. I said I'd bet that Jesus would not be mentioned once during the course of the movie, despite this. My brother took me up on this bet.
My brother owes me a coke.
This movie is explicitly about believing in things we have no proof of (like, I don’t know, Jesus); the Guardians, we're told, are powerless unless the children of the world believe in them. Strangely, I don't remember ever believing in the Sandman, the Easter Bunny or even, yes, Santa Claus. Maybe I did; but I don’t remember it.
The closest I came to believing in any of the Guardians was the Tooth Fairy; I don’t remember actually believing, but I do remember being very disappointed upon finding a tooth that my parents hadn't yet discarded after trading for a quarter.
Speaking of disappointment, Rise of the Guardians was a letdown.
Story and characters
The Guardians consist of four mythical characters that children believe in, but grownups usually do not. They are Santa Claus (Alec Baldwin), the Easter Bunny (Hugh Jackman), the Tooth Fairy (Isla Fisher) and the Sandman (Jean Dujardin). Together, they fight crime.
Actually, I do not know what they do together as Guardians. Supposedly, they protect the children of the world. From what, I don’t know. They certainly aren’t roving the streets physically protecting children.
The Man in the Moon is apparently their boss, and he decides they need a new recruit, so he picks Jack Frost (Chris Pine), who spends most of his spare time actively endangering children. He’s a good kid.
Anyway, they need this new recruit because the Boogeyman (Jude Law) – who is so bad he needs an alias, Pitch Black – has learned how to turn the Sandman’s happy dream sand into nightmare sand, which essentially makes him Neil Gaiman’s most famous creation, whose name unfortunately escapes me at the moment.
Now, I’m just some guy who reviews cartoons for a furry site (and is not only unpaid, but actually pays for this privilege), but if someone gave me the script to Rise of the Guardians and asked me to take a whack at it, first thing I would have done is flip the villain and the hero.
The movie goes into great detail about how much fun Jack is to be around, and there are big reveals about his dark past that are supposed to be really emotional, but which didn’t work because I just didn’t care about his core need as a character; the need to be believed in. Not that he needs to be believed in like he has confidence issues, or he used to be a bad liar — I mean his core problem is nobody believes he exists.
I’m sorry, but that’s just not a need I can relate with. I mean, you, the reader, may not believe I am a good reviewer or even a good person, but I am pretty sure you believe there is actually a person writing this review.*
Meanwhile, the Boogeyman has needs I can relate to: nobody likes him because he’s scary. Yes, we have seen this story before; characters like Jack Skellington, Princess Luna and that one Gaiman character I mentioned earlier, whatever his name is. But life’s no fun without a good scare, after all. That’s a character arc I can believe in.
I could talk about the animation (which is great), the character design (also great) or the gags (which are occasionally pretty funny), but the movie falls apart at the character level, and those things can’t save it. The original four Guardians are caricatures propped up by odd character designs; Jack Frost is an unappealing hero, and I feel more sorry for the poor old Boogeyman than anything else. Even the kids the heroes encounter read as unrealistic.
The only character I liked was little Baby Tooth, a junior tooth fairy that serves as Jack’s mute conscience throughout the story. She was just about the only character who played her role well.
Then I wrote my Brave review. That was the dark second act of the trilogy, and everybody said I was biased against Pixar. Well, duh. Copped to that in the title. Doesn’t change the fact that it was a mediocre movie.
Now comes the grand finale, in which the protagonist wins a pyrrhic victory, and I prove the bias doesn’t matter. Yes, I wanted Brave to lose so bad I could taste it. It did. But even more, I wanted Rise of the Guardians to win. It didn’t. Sometimes seeing is believing; sometimes, it’s not.
This review is based on a 2D screening, and if you think I've not posted the review to the last ‘Twilight’ movie yet due to technical issues, you’re wrong.* Ha ha, joke’s on you, I’m actually one of GreenReaper’s alternate sockpuppet accounts, just like all of Flayrah's contributors.