If I didn’t know any better I would have thought that Rise of the Guardians was made specifically to make me happy. A film featuring some of history’s greatest childhood legends, Rise of the Guardians was a beautifully animated, action-filled, cleverly written film. I will admit that other than my parents, I was the oldest person in the theater but I in no way thought the material was too childish for me, in fact at times it got quite dark.
Though this film features a number of different characters, the main character is Jack Frost (Chris Pine). A young man who awoke one day as Jack Frost with no memory of his past and no sense of his purpose in life. Existing as a legend that nobody believes in, jack Frost can create snow storms and ice but no human can see him. To be seen, Jack must be believed in. The film’s true plot beings with the film’s villain, Pitch Black (Hugh Grant), starting his plot of revenge. Also known as the boogieman, Pitch is tired of being forced to live under beds in the shadows. Spreading fear and terror through nightmares, Pitch means to create a world where he can rule supreme and only one thing stands in his way: the Guardians.
Made up of Santa Claus (Alec Baldwin), the Tooth Fairy (Isla Fisher), the Easter Bunny (Hugh Jackman) and the nonverbal Sandman, the Guardians are called together by the Man in the Moon whenever the children of the world are threatened. Pitch poses enough of a threat to not only gather the Guardians but to chose a new one to join their ranks, Jack Frost. Reluctant to join, Jack is pulled into the battle against Pitch when it may lead to some answers about his past and his purpose in life. Even with the added power of Jack Frost, the Guardians struggle against Pitch who has prepared for their intervention. Doing more than just striking fear into the hearts of children, Pitch also attacks each of the Guardians. He attacks them physically but more important mentally, taking great lengths to destroy children’s belief in the Guardians which saps them of their power. To defeat Pitch, Jack must trust himself to be a Guardian and the Guardians must pull their power together to defeat Pitch.
This film was beautifully animated, filled with creative landscapes and incredibly detailed characters. Seeming to be more realistic then cartoony, the expressions and faces on the characters were crafted with exceptional detail and skill. The landscapes mirrored the detail of the characters and overflowed with creativity. The film’s plot traveled to the North Pole, the Tooth Palace and the Easter Bunny’s home. Each new place was a fully developed environment crafted to fit the personality and legend of each guardian. The visuals continued to impress as the film moved into some fairly impressive battle scenes. Santa whirls around with blades while Pitch summons waves of black, nightmare dust. Jack Frost summons waves of ice and snow and the Sandman attacks with an endless supply of golden sand. The battles will leave those that crave action satisfied; especially if a fantasy style of fight floats your boat. Ultimately the visuals are what make this film but the writing and idea is extremely clever as well.
I had high hopes for this film going into the theater and I was more than happy with what I saw. Spectacular visuals accompany a clever story line to create a film that is fun for all ages. With enough comedy to keep children happy, the jokes are not so immature that they overtake the plot of the film. I cannot stress enough how clever this film was, tying together a number of different great characters and genres. My only complaint about the film was that you could tell it was made for 3D. I didn’t see it in 3D but the camera was wild the entire film, constantly moving in an almost dizzying fashion. Other than that I thought this film was stunning and a blast to watch. I give Rise of the Guardians a 7 out of 10 and hope that they will rise again.
I’ve talked a number of different times in a number of different posts about how expectations can affect a person’s opinion of a film. Expectations can make or break a film, making them a potentially dangerous thing to have. I went into the new animated film Wreck-It-Ralph with high expectations; in fact I don’t remember the last time I was so excited for an animated film. Though it wasn’t exactly what I expected it to be, Wreck-It-Ralph met all my expectations and then some.
Wreck-It-Ralph (John C. Reilly) is the villain not of just the film but of a fictional arcade video game called Fix-It-Felix Jr. Ralph’s job in life while the arcade is open is to destroy a building that Felix (John McBrayer) must then fix. Once the player beats the game, Ralph is hurled from the building into the mud. Ralph would be fine with that life if things were different once the arcade closed. Once closed, the characters from each game are free to do as they pleased in the video game world. Each arcade game has its own world and all the games are connected by Game Central Station but even after the game is done, Ralph is still treated like a villain. Forced to live in a dump alone, Ralph desperately wants the rest of the characters in his game to realize that being a bad guy doesn’t necessarily make him a bad guy. Determined to prove his worth, Ralph beings game jumping, something a character shouldn’t do, to try and earn himself a medal. The problem with game jumping is that if you die in a game that isn’t your own you don’t regenerate; you’re dead for good.
Ralph visits two different games while game jumping, the first being a space set, alien first person shooter called Hero’s Duty (and the film does not overlook the puns that can be made with duty). Under the command of Sergeant Calhoun (Jane Lynch), Ralph is to help the First Person Shooter make it to the top of a tower without letting the cybugs (vicious alien robot bugs) destroy them. After failing miserably, Ralph decides to find his own way to the top to retrieve his own Hero’s medal. Ralph is successful in retrieving the medal but also inadvertently launches himself and a cybug into another game. Sergeant Calhoun follows Ralph, determined to kill the rogue cybug. If left unchecked, the cybug will multiply, eventually destroy the other video game worlds. Calhoun is accompanied by Felix, who is searching for Ralph. Without Ralph to be the villain, the arcade owner Mr. Litwak (Ed O’Neil) assumes the game is out of order and is prepares to unplug it.
The second video game world that Ralph inadvertently visits is the racing world of Sugar Rush. In an environment made entirely out of candy, Sugar Rush is a world similar to Mario Kart where racing reigns supreme. Run by King Candy (Alan Tudyk) each night racers race to become one of the eight avatars the children in the arcade can chose to race as the next day. Ralph meets a young racer named Vanellope Van Schweetz (Sarah Silverman) who dreams of racing but is not allowed to because she has been labeled a glitch. After she takes Ralph’s medal, the two work together to try and help her win her first race. As the two work together and grow closer as friends, Ralph becomes suspicious of King Candy and how Venelope actually became a glitch in the first place. The film continues to mix different game genres as Venellope, Ralph, Felix and Calhoun come together to save the land of Sugar Rush, defeat the cybugs, defeat a surprise enemy and save Venelope’s very existence.
Wreck-It-Ralph was one of the more unique and clever films I have seen in theaters in a while. I am a twenty-three year old video game nerd and the film appealed to me. I also believe that it could easily appeal to young children, old children and even adults who may not have much video game knowledge. With well thought out, lovable characters and rich, lush environments, Wreck-It-Ralph has all the elements of a great animated film. Beyond that however are some well placed, well integrated video game references that prove how clever the creators really are. The references were subtle, like the way the characters moved like video game characters or in a montage where we saw the arcade age 30 years, many of the video games that passed through were classic games. Even in the opening scene, when Wreck-It-Ralph is at a support group for bad guys, each other member of the support group was from a famous video game.
The main complaint I heard about this movie was that though the ideas in it were unique, the story itself wasn’t. The film starts with conflict, then the main character meets a friend and they grow close before something bad happens to make them fight (Ralph and Vanellope). The fight escalates to make the audience sad, then the main character finds his friend and apologizes so they can go on to defeat the villain. It is a common outline for animated movies but this film took the common outline and elevated it to the next level. I found every aspect of this film to be thoroughly unique from beginning to end and give it an 8 out of 10. It is a great animated film that will please gamers and non-gamers alike.