Listen. I don't care if it looks pretty. I don't care if it looks cute. I don't care if it looks like a fun time for the whole family. I don't even care that it's by the makers of "How To Train Your Dragon," a film I legitimately love. It's about Santa, the Easter Bunny, the Toothfairy, Jack Frost, and the Sandman. Only now they're like the freaking Justice League.
That's...just stupid. And even if I wound up being surprised by a hidden wealth of mystical wonderment and glee by the whole affair, not a single molecule in my body will be able to accept that concept and roll with it.
This is a movie I was predestined to dislike.
Not that I was expecting it to be bad, necessarily, but I honestly didn't want to waste an hour and a half of my time with it. There's literally hundreds of films sitting on my shelf that I've never seen that I would love to watch, but no. I have to go to Blockbuster and have "Rise of The Guardians" mock me from the shelf saying "What about me? You still haven't watched me! I'm a new release! You should watch it so people stop recommending it for you! And "Skyfall" is still all rented out! What? You'd rather watch that again? NOPE! Bwahahahaha!"
As a grown man, of course I'll watch a movie about the Easter Bunny over James Bond. It's just logical.
So I watched "Rise of The Guardians," against the instincts of every fiber of my being. And unsurprisingly, I didn't like it. It was exactly what I imagined it was going to be - a big steaming pile of cute. And, like I feared, I found it to be an immensely boring endeavor, not due to any kind of poor craftsmanship, but due to my not caring at any point about anything I was seeing. That's the trouble with the whole thing. It's not necessarily a bad movie, although it's no more than okay at best, but "Rise of The Guardians" is such a sizable chunk of nothing.
It's a strange place for me to be in where I don't care about something as opposed to outright dislike it. In fact it's almost worse. Michael Bay I loathe, but I'm more likely to watch a new movie of his as opposed to "Rise of The Guardians," since I know at the very least it will elicit an emotion from me. True it will most likely be anger, but at least I'll get a good rant out of it. The prospect of seeing a Terrence Malick movie may encourage me to drill out my eyes with an auger, but at least it's driving me to do something. I'll be active in some way. Not just sitting on the couch willing time to go by faster so my wasted 90 minutes are over and done with like I'm in a freaking time-out.
At some point I suppose I should talk about this thing. The idea is that...ah hell, I don't know. Not much about "Rise of The Guardians" made that much sense to me. Apparently The Man in The Moon, who we never hear speak but apparently is totally talking to our heroes, is running the whole shebang when it comes to...I guess the happiness of children? Making sure kids are happy are the Guardians, being Santa and the Easter Bunny and whatnot. The Guardians keep the spirit of happiness alive in children, but they have power only so long as kids believe in them.
It's kind of like Queen Mab in that movie "Merlin" with Sam Neill. And for some reason the happiness of children, which is directly proportional to their belief in occasionally arguably mythical characters, is directly proportional to the fate of the world or something.
Whatever. That works I guess. It's dumb but as far as a movie concept goes it's serviceable. But why in the hell does Santa Claus, oh sorry, his name is North now, have swords?
Seriously with this?
What kind of sense does that make? It's true that's it been a number of years since I believed in Santa, but I can't recall at any point imagining him being a stern, tattooed, Russian version of Conan. Wouldn't the concept of Santa having swords be kind of terrifying to a little kid? I thought the whole concept of Santa was that he was supposed to be a kind, jolly, fat man. And the thought of someone like that visiting your house in the middle of the night was acceptable. But if he's all hardcore and is this hulking brute who duel-wields like a freaking ranger in D&D, that's a little bit more intimidating than I want Santa Claus to come across as!
He has "Naughty" and "Nice" tattooed on his arms. Is...is he going to punch naughty kids?
I would also question the logic of getting Alec Baldwin to voice Santa Claus when he's going to do it in a heavy Russian accent, making it so you can barely tell that it's him. Not that Alec Baldwin is a bad choice for the part or a bad actor, because he's neither one of those, but that's like getting Cindy Crawford to do a photo shoot while wearing a Christie Brinkley mask. What's the damn point?
The scary thing is that Santa isn't the most ridiculous one of the group. What they do to the Easter Bunny is downright laughable. Being the logically least physically imposing member of the group, I guess it's logical that the Easter Bunny was made into this 6-foot tall, steely eyed, Australian Snake Plissken type, but that doesn't mean that him being the tough guy of the group wasn't ridiculous. Although to the film's credit, that is made into the subject of more than a few jokes. So in that sense I guess there's some cheeky self-awareness, but that couldn't help me figure out what in the blue hell this movie was trying to accomplish.
Okay. Fine. You're a badass. That's not what one would usually expect. You know you have eggs in your bandolier, right?
Am I supposed to laugh simply because he's tough when, being the Easter Bunny, you'd imagine him to be otherwise? That's such an obnoxiously lazy form of humor. That's like all the MLP fan-art of Fluttershy being a serial killer. Because she's the quiet and overly-polite one, you see? And it's the juxtaposition of those two extremes that makes it funny. Or boring and way too easy. Take your pick.
At least Hugh Jackman got to speak in his normal voice for a change. But not being used to his normal voice, like Alec Baldwin, I could barely tell it was him. As is probably obvious, that was a pretty consistent problem I had with "Rise of The Guardians," being that the admittedly upper-echelon cast seemed really wasted. Baldwin and Jackman were both okay but were fairly unrecognizable, while Isla Fisher as the Tooth Fairy and Chris Pine as Jack Frost both have such indistinct voices that it really could have been anyone. Again, they didn't do a bad job, but I fail to see the point in getting actors without distinct voices to do voice work for movies.
It also didn't help that the majority of Chris Pine's dialogue is "Whoa!" "Ha Ha!" "Woo!" and "Yeah!"
That's true, by the way. I can only assume that in a cost-cutting measure, to get about 40 pages worth of dialogue out of him, they simply put Chris Pine in a recording booth for 5 minutes and gave him a script which was a single direction written in the middle of the page that read:
(sounds of boyish laughter and excitement)
And that was probably it. Boom. We've got a movie, you guys. Quick, get the conceptual art team to conjure up some whimsical sequences where we can make the camera go all over the place and follow Jack Frost as he's flying around and causing snow and ice to happen. In fact, have them make a crap ton of that. That can be like 30% of the film. Don't worry about it. The whimsy will make up for the lack of anything significant happening.
The only, I repeat, ONLY character that I gave two craps about was the villain, Pitch. I will admit to really liking this character, who is essentially The Boogie Man. I actually felt more sympathy towards the villain than I did any of the heroes, since he has a far more interesting story which is full of tragic self-fulfilling loneliness, and as a result he feels like a far more fleshed out character than ANY of the Guardians by quite a wide margin. On top of that, Jude Law was the only cast member who stood out with his voice work, and easily turns in the best performance of the cast. And what do you know, I could actually tell it was him.
And for some reason, and I don't know if it was just my imagination here, the animation on Pitch's face was so much better than anyone else. Maybe it was because I knew who I was listening to speak, which made it easier to imagine their face, but I got so much more emotion out of Pitch than the Guardians. I don't want to come out and say that it's because Jude Law is a better voice actor, which while unlikely is honestly a reasonable possibility, but the animation certainly helped him blow everyone else out of the water here.
Wow. A character with complexity. Too bad he's the villain.
But it's a movie. You know the bad guy is going to lose. The bad guy always loses. I knew the character I liked most was going down in the end, which didn't help with my enjoyment of the whole affair. I knew these people I couldn't care less about were going to stop the only character with an interesting story simply on the basis that he was the villain, and I just wanted them to beat him and get it done so the movie could be over, kind of like ripping off a band-aid. Such was my experience with "Rise of The Guardians." I wanted the option of ripping out some of my hair in a quick moment of pain in exchange for it just being done.
But, and this is just a quick question of logic here, but when the fate of the world depends on children believing in the Guardians, why don't they just do this:
Behold. Problem solved.
I don't mean to be overly nitpicky, but that's a legitimate complaint here. The Guardians go around trying to covertly fix things when it's clear that all they would have to do is show themselves, proving they exist without question, and Pitch is instantly defeated. I'm sure an answer may have been given at one point, but I don't recall ever hearing it. Perhaps it was because I was bored.
Can I just watch "Wreck-It Ralph" again?
Here's the trailer for "Rise of The Guardians." Just imagine me rolling my eyes and picking at a hole in the arm of my chair and you've got my general reaction to the entire film.
THE BOTTOM LINE - My negative reaction to "Rise of The Guardians" is directly proportional to my apathy towards it. It's not that it's bad. I just never gave a damn about it. Did you think it looked good? Then you'll like it. I guess it's decent family entertainment, although the message of blind faith in something demonstrably untrue is unsettling to me. But it's supposed to be a fantasy, not an allegory. I hope. Otherwise the message to the target audience is "Hey kids! The Easter Bunny is totally real! And you better believe in him or the world is doomed!" Because that's healthy.