Rise of the Guardians: review

The 2012 Dreamworks release of the adventure animation might have a pretty good cast and a story that everyone can relate to, but somehow Rise of the Guardians managed to flop the box office expectations and score an even 7 out 10 across the board.

Rise of the Guardians

Director Peter Ramsey did a great job in terms of how the animation looks, the art department being his main skill, but it is obvious that this is just his second attempt at directing. The story is good and it is building up to something, with conflicts and character dream-up along the way, but that is it. There is nothing special and more than anything, there’s nothing unpredictable. Everything just happens when and how you would think it would, so maybe it should have been marketed to a very young audience rather than try to accommodate everyone.

With Jack Frost (Chris Pine) as the main character, we follow his story as he fights evil as well as his greatest fear. He is seen evolving gradually as he joins North (Alec Baldwin), Tooth (Isla Fisher), Bunny (Hugh Jackman), and the very quiet Mr. Sandman, on their quest to stop Pitch (Jude Law) from bringing darkness over the world by getting kids to stop believing in luminaries. Pitch Black being the boogieman, thrives on fear and uses Mr. Sandman’s ways to give nightmares, instead of dreams, to children, slowly making them stop believing in North and all the others. This is important as the film shows us that it is a symbiotic relationship between them and the kids, and if the children stop believing in them, they stop existing.

The film does have a rather dark side, especially when focusing on Jack, as he is presented in a shroud of depressive loneliness. This does add some backstory about loneliness and being confused about who he is, something that all of them had to go through at one point, making it a key element that anyone can relate to. Therefore, if you look at it, it is a story about going from zero to hero, with Jack finding his purpose and reaching his potential, finally being able to become who he was meant to be.

Rise of the Guardians_scene

A breath of fresh air was that beyond the usual tales of Santa Claus, the Tooth Fairy, Sandman, and the Easter Bunny, the film adds a lot of interesting details. Such as the tooth fairies who collect teeth for the memories they hold, which just simply made sense to the story and did not seemed forced at all. But most of all, the visuals of the whole animation. The details of the characters and their respective worlds just shows how much work went into the making of this film. Unfortunately, like with every movie out there, just because it looks good, that does not make it good overall. Maybe it was the forced attempt to make everyone feel included by having a Russian North, an Australian Bunny, and so on. Or maybe it was the story that tried to be simple enough for children to understand, while at the same time creating complex sub-layers about finding yourself.

In any case, this is a must-see just to decide for yourself if it is one or the other. You will not be disappointed by the looks, the voices, sounds, and soundtrack, or the story in itself, but you might be hoping for more when you put them all together. In case you’ll be disappointed, go for a snippet of Wild tales, by Damián Szifrón.

No Escape: review

John Erick Dowdle managed to write and direct an unexpected action packed thriller. This film would have been the most underrated release of the year, if not for a few scenes that just ruin key moments.

While editing was done in such a way, that you won’t want to get your eyes off the screen, it results in you seeing the flaws that made this movie good instead of great. Nonetheless, being directed by the lesser known John Erick Dowdle, makes up for some of the wrongs and scores high for the effort.

No Escape

The movie is set in South East Asia, where Jack Dwyer (Owen Wilson) is relocating, along with his family, his wife Annie Dwyer (Lake Bell) and daughters, Lucy Dwyer (Sterling Jerins) and Beeze Dwyer (Claire Geare). As soon as they arrive in the new country, which is to become their home as expats, something does not feel right. They are not being picked up at the airport by the company, instead they have to hitch a ride to the hotel with Hammond (Pierce Brosnan) and Samnang (Thanawut Ketsaro), two individuals that prove to be very valuable to our protagonists later in the plot. With an eerie calm, the situation for Jack Dwyer and his family becomes more and more unnerving as nobody from the company he has come to work for has contacted him.

Next day, as Jack goes to find out what is going on, or at least to find a newspaper to give him some idea of what is happening. As he finally finds a newspaper, but which only has a 3-day old issue, he heads back to the hotel, only to find himself in the middle of a clash between police and protesters. He then makes his way back to the hotel, passing streets where inexplicable rioting, violence and looting is happening. As he reaches the hotel, he and his family find themselves trapped inside, with a mob of people surrounding the building. They then realise that the reason for the riots is the company that Jack came to work for, being hunted as a result. This is where the film makes you move to the edge of the seat until the final scene.

No Escape_scene2

Their first plan is to get out of the hotel, and in between trying to find one of his daughters that wandered off and trying to keep quiet while hearing and seeing people getting killed all around them, they manage to get to the roof. As it stops being a safe place, with a helicopter shooting from above and quite a few protesters breaking the doors down, they take a quick decision to jump onto the roof of a nearby building.

As they are being hunted, and the run moves into the streets and into the night, they try to find shelter at the US embassy. Which, after Jack gets a closer look, he realises that it is far from being safe, with everyone inside either dead or gone. Being spotted by a group of rebels, they try to lose them but end up being cornered. Here is where Hammond and his friend save the day, by getting them to shelter for the night, at the top of a brothel. Jack and Annie find out exactly why and how this whole civil war started, as well as giving them a hint of how to get out of this mess.

Next day, as they are found by rebel forces, Hammond and his friend die but manage to save and keep safe Jack and his family, who now know that they need to get to Vietnam, if they are to survive this.

As they finally manage to find their way along a river and into Vietnam territory, the film ends well for the Dwyer family. And although it was a story about how much one is willing to do in order to protect his loved ones, it might not be truly relevant for everyone out there. Finally, the movie would have scored so much higher if it wasn’t for the final scene, where suddenly the protesters understood English, something that did not happen for the entire movie until then (but if you watch Timbuktu, for instance, you will be truly astonished from start to finish).

No Escape_scene