I saw the latest animated feature from DreamWorks recently, Rise of the Guardians, and I had the theater to myself, woohoo! Here are my thoughts. I think they’re spoiler free. I can’t promise, though.
The movie tells the tale of the mythical Jack Frost, who is summoned to become a “Guardian” to protect the children of the world from forces of fear and hopelessness, personified by the guy with the British accent, Pitch, aka the Boogie Man.
I loved the visual look and feel of the film. They really captured the mystery, wonder, storybook-ish magical-ness, and grandeur of the characters and their worlds. It was visually fantastic. DreamWorks can really nail it with their fantasy-oriented features.
I enjoyed the . . . what is it? Symbolism? The idea of the moon as God. If all the story ideas I have were published books, you’d see that I very much enjoy the idea of moons symbolizing powerful mysterious forces beyond human understanding. There’s something very natural about it, something very primal about being awed by a moon. It is a definite theme in my current novel-in-progress, Moonrise Ink.
I liked the idea of the main character, Jack Frost, having lost memories. I won’t give anything away, but that’s another story element I tend to enjoy, mysterious forgotten memories, at least when the characters still have personalities without them.
Finally, there was some good humor. Overall, it was kind of hit or miss, but I did laugh out loud quite a few times, more than I did in Wreck-It Ralph.
The Not So Good
One of my pet peeves is characters talking to themselves for the sake of exposition. It is such lazy writing. In this film, the villain especially loved to speak his intentions to no one.
There were so many moments in the film that could’ve been aided with some epic musical thematic scoring, but all we get are rinky-tink sprinkles of orchestration. Come on, gimme a melody! (Ah, sure… I know… it’s not that kind of show…) I prefer a John Powell How to Train Your Dragon sort of score.
Another thing that annoyed me was the whole idea of children needing to “believe.” The problem with belief being a force of good in and of itself is that it’s too vague. Belief in what? Belief in Santa Clause? Belief in wonder? It’s too vague for anything primal to be at stake. Fear is set up as the opposing force, but belief and fear are not opposites. You have to believe in something to fear it, after all. What is the opposite of fear? That should have been the force of good. (Of course, fear is also a rather vague force. Fear of what?)
There’s a little girl in the movie with disgusting messed up hair. Is that supposed to be cute? It’s not. It’s gross. Take a shower and brush your hair.
Overall, many scenes felt far too rushed. I really wanted to see some slower contemplative moments, with perhaps characters casually playing around with or using their powers or something. I wanted to get a feeling for what these characters and their worlds were like in their off-time. It’s easier to feel a world with the little things. Being constantly over the top seems to be an American habit. But when everything is over the top, nothing is.