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I’m back! Almost done with the first chapter of Battlefield of the Soul, too. ^_^

But apart from discovering a new emoticon (^_^), I now have a new obsession as well: Rise of the Guardians.

Now, I’ll be the first to admit that this was unexpected. Normally, when I see a movie, it takes a little while for love at first sight to turn into full-blown obsession, but this was not the case with Rise, for some reason. I have no idea why. Unless it’s the simple brilliance of taking well-known characters/fantasy figures and changing them subtly, making them deeper, more… more like the Elves from Tolkien, vs. the inane fairytale product, so that along with the innate beauty, there’s also peril and wonder, without which, beauty is simply sugary, insubstantial flutter-bys. (I said it. Deal with it, Disney. :-P)

Anyway, if you have not seen this movie, you may want to avoid reading parts of this post, which will probably inadvertently contain spoilers.

First of all, there’s Santa Claus (North.) He’s Russian. Yeah… but it kind of makes it interesting, in context. (Even though St. Nicholas was really from Turkey! And Babushka is the real-life Russian version of Santa.) He takes the writing-on-one’s-hand thing a bit further–the naughty and nice lists are written out on his left and right forearms, respectively (if you watch close in the movie, you can actually see a scene where he wipes one of the names off the naughty list!) Another thing–he is HUGE. As in, 6’7 and broad-shouldered to boot. Oh, and the yetis make the toys (not the elves!) Does that surprise you?

Then, there’s the Tooth Fairy. She’s the only female Guardian, and also the only one who does not have any visible weapon that we actually see in the movie. Sure, there are a couple times where you see her taking on the Nightmares, but those are normally wide shots, and when they’re not, she seems to be using one of the Easter Bunny’s boomerangs. Maybe she’s just a master of hand to hand combat? The world may never know…

Next up, the Easter Bunny. Set aside your perceptions of fuzzy fluff, mates. This bunny means business. In fact, were it not for the consistent references to “bunnies” and “rabbits,” I would have thought that he was really a hare. (SPOILER ALERT! Though, this was sort of almost-debunked by one scene in the movie, which was to my mind completely unnecessary, though cute–ish? Maybe?) It must be the ears… And the Bunny? He’s Australian. And gets called a kangaroo by a certain very disrespectful, white-haired imp.

Now, for the Sandman. The only Guardian who does not actually speak, but is none-the-less expressive, despite the fact that he has no voice actor. He is sort of like the Swiss-army-knife character–the one who can pull just about anything out of his hat, thanks to a semi-solid substance known as “dream sand.”

And then… there’s Jack Frost.

The outcast–the mischief-maker–the trickster character. The irresponsible, reckless, and somewhat-crazy one.

There’s one in every crowd, and Jack Frost does not disappoint. He’s the most non-conformist of all the characters, and while all the other Guardians are defined by their predictability (as in, Santa comes on Christmas Eve, the Easter Bunny turns up on Easter, the Tooth Fairy when you’re waiting with a tooth under your pillow, the Sandman when your mom says “sweet dreams!”), Jack is very much defined by being unpredictable. After all, who expects a blizzard or a snow day, or even artistic geometrical designs on their windows on a cold morning? Jack basically does as he pleases. And he’s also the most visible Guardian–if you believe in him, you can see him at work, while the others–they don’t particularly like to show themselves. Whereas Jack goes around setting off people’s car alarms.

Jack is also possibly the least confident of the Guardians. Due to amnesia before waking up as Jack Frost, he doesn’t really know who he is or even what he is, or what he is supposed to do in the world. Thus, he’s the least secure. He’s confident all right, to the point of overconfidence, but he doesn’t really understand what he’s meant to do or why he is a Guardian until late in the movie. And Pitch Black, the Bogeyman, uses this lack of confidence to try and sway Jack to his side–though we can surmise that Pitch only wants, by extension, to wield Jack’s power–and, to be honest, the boy is powerful. He actually destroyed legions of nightmares while enraged by the Sandman (Sandy’s) death, and then later admitted he didn’t know how he did it, for crying out loud!

Anyway, Jack is very much driven by wanting to be believed in, to stop being invisible and unheard. He doesn’t want to be just a metaphor, so to speak, and he wants to know why he was chosen to be a Guardian. But he doesn’t want to be used, and he doesn’t want to be feared by children, or to harm them. And that’s what saves him from Pitch, ultimately. And it’s Jack’s “center”–joy–that proves to be key in defeating Pitch.

Now, to talk a bit about Jamie, the little boy who helps Jack to realize what’s important in his “life.” Jamie is, I think, Jack’s anchor–the reason why he is fighting in the first place. Also, if you look closely, Jamie looks very much like a younger version of Jack (before his death and subsequent restoration to life as Jack Frost.) It is possible that Jack is, in fact, Jamie’s grand-uncle, removed by a few generations. Perhaps it’s likely. The filmmakers don’t specify–and to be absolutely honest, they don’t need to.

Jamie’s resemblance of younger Jack is only one of the visual references in the movie; there are, in fact, several. For instance, the crook of Jack’s staff appears to be topped with the same ornamental “G” shape that is the Guardians’ symbol. Then, there is the North Pole, and Santa’s workshop; the office seems to be a visual reference to Rivendell, in the Lord of the Rings movies. Then there is an ice-like substance, which does not seem to melt; North crafts the prototype toys out of it.

I don’t really understand some of the elements of the plot, however. For instance, I don’t understand why, when the Man in the Moon chooses Jack to be a Guardian, Jack doesn’t really begin to suffer the effects of not being believed in. Perhaps it’s because he hasn’t truly committed himself yet? And why, when all the other Guardians begin to lose their powers, does he remain the only character truly capable of combating Pitch? I guess it’s possible that the reason why Jack never had any real problems when no one believed in him (other than not really being believed in, of course), is because he wasn’t a Guardian yet. Besides, someone has to initiate things, don’t they?

Anyway, the real reason why Jack didn’t lose his powers when the others lost theirs is because the writers thought it would be “cool” to have Jack go up against Pitch… I think it’s more realistic (and far more interesting) that he sort of… lost.

Now, on to the other aesthetics of the movie. The visuals are supremely enchanting; for instance, the dream sand (and its nightmare counterpart), while seeming to originate as specks of sparkling gold (or black), forms itself into inchoate swirls or “vines”, can make shapes (such as dreams: unicorns, dinosaurs, dolphins, schools of fish; and communication media, which are Sandy’s main form of communication, other than rattling that poor elf’s brains out.) and solid items, such as a barnstorming plane for Sandy to ride in; whips, which are his chief weapon, and props, such as a funny little hat to tip; then there’s Pitch’s nightmares, which take the form of stylized black horses with malevolent gold eyes. Both forms of sand, though, seem to be capable of falling into their inert forms, in which they would appear to be normal, albeit beautifully-colored, alluring, and glittering, sand.

Then there’s the frost, which… *sighs wistfully* It’s hypnotic and mesmerizing, just watching it spread. The geometric patterns in it seem to demonstrate that Jack is a consummate artist, without even trying.

I can’t even begin to enumerate all the gorgeousness of the movie… so why should I try? Except in one other case; the huge book in which the Guardians’ Oath is recorded. What is it with me and huge old books?! (Some of you may recall me swooning likewise over the book of magic from BBC’s Merlin.)

As for the way the characters are portrayed–it’s hard to imagine them any other way. For instance, who would have imagined Bunny with gauntlets? But he has them and it’s just unbelievably cool-looking. And the Tooth Fairy is covered with iridescent feathers, but has insect-like wings, though you’d expect her to be a bit more like a hummingbird, seeing all the hovering she does. (The small fairies even have a long beak-like nose!) And North’s sleigh and reindeer–definitely not rickety. And Jack is a category all his own. When I first heard about the movie, I was kind of afraid he would make me think of Bruck Chun (a villain from the Jedi Apprentice series, who is platinum blond), but he really doesn’t come off that way at all. For one thing, Jack is smaller-boned and finer-featured than my mental image of Bruck, and Bruck also lacks the attitude (Bruck is more gloating, like a petty bully.) But that’s neither here nor there; what I’m thinking about is the portrayal. Jack’s face is very fine-featured indeed–in fact, on a few occasions when he was looking regretful or sad and had his hood up, it almost looked feminine. He has the sort of face you’d expect more from a manga or anime show than Western animation. But he’s clearly a teenaged boy (probably not older than fifteen or so,) and the way he walks and moves are different. And who would’ve expected a fifteen-year-old to have a more baritone voice already?! But, wonder of wonders, it works. Add the way he talks and expresses himself, and the character is very clearly masculine. Another wonder to be attributed only to the sound-enhanced motion picture.

What is it with thinner, slighter characters recently?! It used to be that a male hero would be tall and broad-shouldered, even if they were more lithe than muscular. But recently, there seems to be a trend toward more waifish-looking characters. For instance, there’s Violet in The Incredibles. Beside her dad, brother, and even her mom, she’s tiny. Then there’s Merlin, from the BBC show of the same name. He’s definitely smaller than Arthur, in the same show. And I won’t even mention Legolas (probably because he’s actually shorter than Aragorn… errm… never mind.)

Seriously, people?! What’s happened to all the hobbits?!

bilboOh… never mind.

Okay, so… I’m pretty much aware that probably no one read to the bottom of this post… except for Iris… and she likes anything and everything I write (misguided enthusiasm…) and has a crush on Bilbo… X-P

Thanks for reading (if you actually read all the way to the bottom) and God Bless!

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