movies: rise of the guardians

rise of the guardians
I know that I say this about almost every computer animated movie I go to see, but Rise of the Guardians is a truly breathtakingly beautiful movie.

From the very first moment the visuals of this movie had me hooked. Of course it doesn't hurt that the first character we meet is Jack Frost... I'm not going to lie... I'm having a serious animation crush on Jack in a way I haven't since perhaps Tarzan.

But the entire movie is gorgeously rendered, brilliantly lit and full of so much amazing perfect visual details like the eyes of Pitch, the villain which seem to be lit from within...

I could name pretty much something out of every scene that was just gorgeously done.

And we only saw the 2D version... I would imagine that the 3D version would have an extra level of lushness to most of the scenes, since there are any number of times when they should have made good use of the three dimensional plane.

I was a little surprised that the movie isn't actually set at Christmas... I figured that it's a movie that is coming out at Christmas, that contains Santa (or North as he's known in this movie)... and given that Jack Frost is the personification of frost and cold weather, it would make perfect sense for it to be set at Christmas... but oddly it's set just before Easter as Winter (at least the Northern Hemisphere's Winter) is ending.

As far as the story goes, it sticks pretty closely to the formula of almost every "hero's journey" type movie... it's every superhero movie where the protagonist joins and existing team and doesn't believe in himself... there really isn't very much that's new about it.

And yet, it touches on belief and nurturing the child inside of you and all that stuff that is almost guaranteed to tug on your heart strings... and in that regard it does an excellent job. Both Ma and I welled up at different times in the last act.

But the story is kind of dark in a few spots... mostly around the character of Pitch and his nightmare horses.

The voice cast is mostly excellent... Chris Pine makes for a more mature Jack than the animation might have otherwise suggested, Alec Baldwin is wonderfully unrecognisable as a very Slavic North/Santa, Hugh Jackman plays his Australian accent and slang right up to the hilt as the Easter Bunny (although the whole "why" of a traditionally European myth being Australian and carrying boomerangs is never particularly addressed in the movie) and Jude Law is an evil, oozing villain as Pitch.

And although he has no dialogue, so no voice actor, the animator of The Sandman does a brilliant job of conveying emotion and humour and warmth out of a little mute golden guy.

Perhaps the only place where the story feels a little bit thin is probably around the characters of the children. They're not bad, but they're clearly not the focus so they're all painted in very broad strokes and not particularly fleshed out beyond an introduction scene and the finale.

It's definitely one of those movies that I would consider going back to see again in 3D.

yani's rating: 4 Christmas yetis out of 5

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