Freelance writer. Melbourne based cinephile. Fond of food.
Published December 2nd 2012
Guardians fail to rise to the ocassion
For the sake of this rather jumbled yarn, a 'guardian' is a fabled character that children revere, and includes such well known figures as Santa Claus, the Easter Bunny, The Tooth Fairy, and er, The Sandman. I think I must have spent too much time looking at the Sandman, because my eyelids started getting heavier as the film progressed and I nearly dozed off a couple of times.
The hero of the story is Jack Frost. Although he too has magical powers, children don't actually know he exists. He yearns to be well known like his peers, which lends the tale its rather dubious moral, that being able to help children isn't anywhere near as important as getting credit for it.
Also yearning fame is Pitch Black, referred to simply as "Pitch" most of the time, although I thought the other characters were calling him Bitch. Not very appropriate for a children's film, I know, but given the lack of commitment the filmmakers show towards making an original, endearing or amusing product, I just figured they couldn't be bothered adopting the required tone either.
What we do see on display is colour and movement, and lots of it. There are a number of chase and fight sequences across land and through the air, and tykes may be momentarily mesmerized by this. For the rest of us, though, don't expect such niceties as character development or zippy dialogue. Bitch, sorry, Pitch, does bring with him a wee sense of menace and therefore some degree of dramatic tension, but its all very perfunctory.
As far as aesthetics go, Jack Frost is a nicely designed character, with his icy blond hair and a boyishly innocent face. Pitch Black is an OK rendition of a villainous figure, but the strange collection of 'guardians' look even motlier than they sound. The Easter Bunny (as voiced by Hugh Jackman, keeping his broad accent from Australia) is some kind of Robin Hood action hero, Santa Claus sports what sounds like an Eastern European accent (?), and Sandman looks so unintentionally creepy, its probably a blessing that he doesn't speak at all.
Clearly the re-imaging of fairy tale characters in Shrek was the inspiration for this mutation on existing children's favourites, but the attempt is pretty misguided. If the intention was to create a new franchise, then Dreamworks has failed big time, as evidenced by the film's poor opening in the States.
Take the kiddies, if you must, but you'd be better off seeing a re-release of one of the Pixar films.