Oddly Shonen: Rise of the Guardians Review

I remember back when Watchmen was announced to be adapted into a movie a couple years back. So many people were excited to see one of the most celebrated comic titles up on the big screen, but for everyone else they were just excited to see another superhero action movie. And then the movie came out. I don’t know about general reactions across the board, but I will say that in my circle of friends and acquaintances that caught the movie, there was a very visible divide between people that enjoyed the movie as a decent adaptation of its source material, and the more casual viewers that went into it expecting a simple action movie and well… got more than they bargained for.

I wouldn’t say I got that exact same vibe from Rise of the Guardians, but it was definitely something similar to it.

Proof that more poster space = more of a main character

Proof that more poster space = more of a main character

While Rise of the Guardians is an adaptation of The Guardians of Childhood books, I honestly wouldn’t have known that if it weren’t for Wikipedia; you’d think an adaptation, especially one whose source material is a series of books, would try to bank on those fans by having trailers and the like remind those folks that it’s an adaptation. I did know, that in some of the more obscure sectors of the internet, a small but devoted fanbase for the movie was beginning to grow as far back as 2008, and as the movie slowly approached premier, I will say that the tie-in work the people associated with the movie made really did get me interested in seeing the movie.

And then I watched the movie.

The concept of each holiday mascot and folklore character as a real entity with a chosen few of them working together as “guardians” is pretty interesting, to say the least. But, similar to my feel about Santa Clause being portrayed with tattoos and wielding a sword into battle, the movie itself just gave off this overall gritty (in a 12 year old sense) feel that I wasn’t expecting going into it. And even by the end of the movie I still don’t think I got over that.

You’re immediately introduced to Jack Frost, who in this iteration is initially a trouble maker of sorts that uses his winter powers to make snow days and an overall feel of enjoyment for the kiddies. My problem with this, though, is that most of his tendencies for fun end up being at the cost of things like well… safety. Maybe I’m just too old to see the fun in reckless behavior, even with his more somber initial scene introduction, I just couldn’t get behind this character. So imagine my joy to find that he would be the central character throughout the entire movie.

Maybe I should backtrack just a bit to somewhat justify my feelings towards this character. In the anime Bleach, there reaches a point when the ensemble cast balloons to 30+ characters, with only close to ten of them at best being integral to the main story. In this cast, a minor character with ice powers named Hitsugaya somehow found a strong connection with fans, even beating out the main cast in a character popularity contest and reaching the point that a movie was even centered on him. Is my hatred toward Jack Frost something of a displacement of anger that should be towards a completely unrelated anime character? Maybe. But I just can’t get over the fact that Frost’s looks, abilities, care-free nature and lack of desire to want anything more out of life even when “fate” pushes more upon him puts him into the category of a pretty person with problems.

As we’re introduced to the rest of the guardians—Santa, the Tooth Fairy, Sandman, Easter Bunny—we find that the Man on the Moon (I like to equate him to the Zordon to the guardians’ Power Rangers… except he can’t talk) has plans on recruiting none other than Jack Frost. Jack, who is completely fine with his place in world, turns down the offer. Enter Pitch Black, a being that feeds off of fear and has begun using his nightmares to serve as a more dominant role in the world. Why does he want a more dominant role in the world? I mean… I guess because he’s jealous, but we’re never given all that big of a reason why and rather just see him do lots of bad things to the good guys which as far as the movie is concerned is a good enough reason to put a stop to him.

What follows is some more explanation of the mythos behind the guardians and other non-human entities, but it all ends up tying back to Jack Frost and how he shouldn’t just be pleased with what he has, but yearn and strive for more which is a nice sentiment and all, but… ugh, I just couldn’t get behind it if Jack was involved. Furthermore, it seems like more mythos relating to the other guardians would have been more beneficial, at least in terms of making a more believable fantasy world. But I guess with the movie being based on a series, it was hoping it could cover things like that in a sequel? Either way I felt like a bit more could have been done in terms of an explanation for the ins and outs of this world.

So how do the guardians and Jack stop Pitch? Well… they just fight him. Yes, they fight using their powers, but at the end of the day I just can’t get over the fact that the Tooth Fairy punched a dude in the face. Halfway through the movie you begin to get a sense that multiple fight scenes will make up the remainder of the movie, but to have fight scenes blended in with characters like the Easter Bunny and Santa… it just sounds like something a 12 year old would doodle into his notebook. That’s not to day it’s bad by any sense. If anything the fight scenes best show that at least visually, DreamWorks can be just as good as anything Pixar makes (with exception to Pitch’s skin which just has this weird lack of texture in it), but it’s just jarring to see and hard to really accept.

In a nutshell, I’d say Rise of the Guardians was decent. It probably doesn’t help that I saw Wreck-It Ralph only a few days prior, but even with that in mind, it was an alright romp that’s visually stunning with a lot of unexpected fighting.

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About daemoncorps
Gabe (daemoncorps) has been writing about anime and the like since 2005, but has been babysat by it for much longer. He primarily spends his days distracting himself on twitter or writing for Fandom Post until he realizes he has a weekly webcomic (tapastic.com/series/scramblebouquet) to work on. He also just finished writing his first full-length graphic novel about unemployment (https://tapastic.com/episode/293804).

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