Wednesday, 6 March 2013

Rise of the Guardians (2012)

Another children's storybook is adapted for the movies, I never knew there were so many popular children's books! one after another every year. I have never heard of the author and I've never heard of the book/s but I was intrigued by the Avengers-esque team up of well known fabled holiday characters.

It sounded a bit whimsical and babyish at first but the animation looked so good I gave it a go. First impressions were holy Buzz Lightyear!!, the visuals in this film are fudging excellent!!. This film looks sharp and crisp believe me, its a feast for the eyes on every level and in every sequence. Either when the atmosphere is fun and joyous or when it dark, brooding and nightmarish, it all looks tremendous.

Not only are the colours beautiful and animation slick, the characters all look good too! and that includes the human characters which often aren't as exciting as the fantasy ones. There is almost a Disney look about the humans here, the big clear eyes, smooth faces, plus The Boogeyman looks very much like Hades from 'Disney's Hercules'. Not only do all the characters look good but their facial expressions are really well done too, right down to the smallest change depending on the emotion eg. raising an eyebrow or shaking of the head. I think what they have managed to do is get the voices synced precisely with changing facial expressions, this is why it looks so flawless, very impressed.

The odd thing about this film is the legendary characters, I dunno if they are like this in the book but there are some strange ideas here. While Jack Frost is imagined nicely, almost like a winter elf of sorts, the others are...curious. Good old Santa or North is made out as a huge bearded old fella as expected but he's...Russian??. A thick Russian accent, carries Russian swords into battle, wears a thick black traditional Russian hat (Cossack Cap hat I think) and his traditional Santa suit of red n white trim now has thick black furry trim giving that Soviet military feel. But I gotta admit it lends well to the cold, snowy, frozen image of his background. Oh and one more thing...he has tattoo's on his forearms, yep you read that correctly, 'naughty' and 'nice' tattoo's on each forearm that look like they are part of sleeves actually!.

Next up is the Easter Bunny or E. Aster Bunnymund. Now this guy also has some kind of tribal markings on his fur in various places, dresses like a wookie, has an Australian accent and carries two boomerangs into battle. The Tooth Fairy Tooth, looks a bit like a mermaid crossed with a hummingbird and is very colourful, she has hundreds of little baby Tooth Fairies that assist her. Lastly we have the Sandman Sandy, a short tubby little fellow who is completely sandy in colour and communicates via sand images that he conjures above his head.

A weird set of ideas for traditional characters of lore but this is what I liked about the film to be honest. Yes the plot is completely mundane and has not one inch of originality in its run time, the good guys team together to beat the bad guy, high points, low points, high points once more for the finale, good guys win, the end.

Nothing remotely surprising or unpredictable so don't think otherwise. Its the spectacle and characters that are the winner for me, some lovely moments that will make you smile or put a lump in you're throat. As said the way the characters have been approached are bizarre but original (only original thing here), the tiny little jingle bell hat wearing elves that help Santa are great for a giggle, the yeti's that also help Santa are a fun touch too. Must also gives kudos for the voice casting which really combines to make the characters well rounded, haven't heard such good voice work for ages. Jackman manages his Aussie accent again whilst Baldwin is really good as a Russian Santa (didn't even realise it was him!).

Total feel good film with grade A standard animation from Dreamworks (one in the eye for Pixar). I mean really, if you didn't like this then you gotta be a bit cold inside, sure its a soppy kids film but the crack team of elite holiday guardians put a smile on my face. I really wanted to see more guardians but to be honest I struggled to think of anymore, a Leprechaun was mentioned for St Patrick's Day, I presume...maybe a red dragon for St George's Day? I'm sure there are some other good foreign ones. But yeah, totally 'The Avengers' for the very young, I like it.