Rise of the Guardians (Rated PG) 3 Stars
Apparently, Rise of the Guardians (97 minutes) was a series of children’s books. I have an encyclopedic knowledge of both movies and books, and I must say this is the first time I’m hearing of this. I now feel a deep and abiding shame and I must go forth to Barnes and Noble and read all three William Joyce originals. Although, the movie does take place about 200 years after the original stories covered in the books.
The film starts out with some freaking gorgeous visu-als. The palette is a nice combination of blues, greys, and whites with accents of gold, red, and peacock. So give the guy that picked out the color combos an Oscar. The writers need a spanking though. Would it have killed somebody to point out the lack of powerful female characters in the film? Make no mistake, Guardians is boy’s town.
This is especially irritating since there are so many places in the narrative which, with just a little bit of tweaking, a strong female character could easily fit. Have they never heard of Mother Nature? Did the Easter Bunny need to be a boy? What about a clever little gender reversal in which Santa Claus laments the patriarchal twisting of her story? Then there’s the fact that the one major fe-male character is more than a little bit ditzy and dressed in brightly colored feathers. Way to reinforce gender stereotyping, movie!
We open with the birth of Jack Frost (Chris Pine). The Man in the Moon brought him to life to serve as the spirit of winter, but didn’t give him any other information. Fast forward to just before Easter Sunday, roughly present day, where Jack has been invisible for 300 years or so since people don’t believe in him. What people do believe in is Santa Claus with a Russian accent and no wife (Alec Baldwin), the Tooth Fairy (stupid Isla Fisher), and the Australian Easter Bunny (Hugh Jackman, still doing penance for appearing in the Wolverine movie) and Sandman (Heather Romagano in a non-speaking non-acting role).
These latter four meet up at the North Pole where yetis are making toys and elves are “helping.” They find out that a crisis is imminent and The Man in the Moon has chosen a new hero to join them in guarding the children of the world. Naturally, that’s Jack Frost. But he’s a loner, baby, a rebel. He doesn’t play well with others and they don’t take him seriously. I wonder if the rest of the film will be about how Jack Frost is hiding is own feelings of inadequacy behind flippant remarks and then he makes a mistake — due in part to his insecurity — and gets rejected by the real champions but then redeems himself in some final lone wolf act of heroism? Whoops. I just gave away the plot of every PG kids movie ever. My bad.
Anyhoo, enter the villain. The Bogeyman AKA Pitch Black (Jude Law) flipped through Terry Pratchett’s Hogfather and was inspired by the tooth fairy subplot contained therein. He is tired of being ignored in favor of friendlier fantasy figures and hatches a plot to destroy the belief that makes them real while leaving him invisible.
Overall this was a fine family film. I mean, have a talk with your children about sexual politics and the patri-archal ideology communicated through-out the narrative, but other than that not bad. If you stick around during the credits there are some extra scenes.Now showing at Wynnsong 7, Carmike 12 and Carmike Market Fair 15.