Hello everyone! How’s it hanging?
This is my first movie review, so let’s set some ground rules. When I see an animated film, I usually judge it on 4 qualities: Animation, Acting, Writing, and Soundtrack. The way that I’m going to judge this film is out of 100, split 30-20-30-20 respectively.
I am going to preface this review with the fact that Dreamworks’ “How To Train Your Dragon” is probably my favorite movie of all time. I found HTYD as funny, well animated, with an excellent score and plot so beautiful I would consider its writing artistic. For this reason alone, I have a special place in my heart for Dreamworks, and constantly find myself holding them to a higher standard than they really deserve, and this is where I find issue with Rise of the Guardians.
For those of you unfamiliar with the movie, the idea is that there are a number of guardians of mankind’s children, the Easter Bunny, the Tooth Fairy, the Sandman, and, of course, Santa Claus. Jack Frost, a trickster god of frost and cold, is called to guardianship to combat the terrible forces of
the beautiful and statuesque Jude Law Pitch Black AKA the Sandman. It came out November 21st, and I saw it in theaters soon after.
First up, animation. The animation in this movie is top notch, and is in the same style of How To Train Your Dragon. I love this style- it gives everything a realistic look, without straying into the Uncanny Valley. We’ve outgrown the styles of Shrek and Madagascar, and soon enough we’ll outgrow the HTYD style as well, but for now, it’s a great style, and the results are stunning. 29/30 for animation, with a point off for a lot of darkness in the movie that made the lighter moments a little awkwardly presented.
Next, acting. This cast is one of the most star-studded casts I’ve seen in a while, especially for an animated movie. We have, in no particular order, Hugh Jackman (Wolverine) as the Easter Bunny, Alec Baldwin (Jack Donaghy from 30 Rock) as Santa Claus (North), Chris Pine (Captain Kirk from the recent Star Trek movie) as Jack Frost, and Jude Law (Dr. Watson in Sherlock Holmes) as Pitch. All of the main cast in this movie do a phenomenal job, and you’ll see no complaints from me. 20/20 for Acting.
Writing is one of the places where Rise falls a little short. The plot is, overall, pretty weak, and falls upon some bad habits, like a solid deus ex machina (-2 pts) right at the end. It was also pretty predictable- I pretty much had a sense of how the movie was going to run within the first 30 minutes or so. (-3 pts, it’s tough to be not-predictable) While the story is sound, it doesn’t have that magic that the plot of How To Train Your Dragon did (At this point, I wonder why the name of this review is not Rise of the Guardians: Not How To Train Your Dragon). Let me explain what I mean- HYTD was a movie that came “full circle.” The setting that was used to set up the characters and environment was presented to the viewer again, reflecting the development of Hiccup and Burke in doing so, even down to some subtle soundtrack cues. Every event that occurs during that movie is, in some way, reflected in the end. In Rise of the Guardians… the ending is the status quo. The character development really only exists on a technical level, and by the end of the movie, the characters return to their daily routine. Whoop-de-do, -5 points right there. I’m not impressed, Dreamworks- this point is what I try to hold you to, and I know you can produce better writing than this. Story gets a 20/30.
The last point, the soundtrack, is another area where this story falls short. Alexandre Desplat, who scored The Fantastic Mr. Fox, The King’s Speech, and the last two Harry Potter movies, is capable of some really top-notch work, but at the same time, I found the soundtrack here to be unmemorable. Many feature-length films have to rely on a solid soundtrack to lend depth to the story- I mean, think about (let’s change it up a bit) the movie Inception. The soundtrack that Hans Zimmer made for Inception is bold, resonant, and really sets a phenomenal mood for the movie. The Inception soundtrack has a really cool story behind it, check it out. Where Zimmer draws the viewer into the world of Inception, I don’t have the same feeling for Desplat’s treatment of Rise of the Guardians. I couldn’t remember any of the music without having to look online (-7 pts), and when I listened to the soundtrack, I was not reminded of any particular part of the plot(-8 pts). This gives us our score, a 5/20.
Ok, so this gives us our final score- 74/100. Before I get people yelling at me for the arbitrary point values, these scores are all based on my personal preferences. I don’t have an official rubric written up, but I might make one in the next couple of weeks (and will update the score accordingly)
Zip! out. See you Friday, folks!