These Aren’t the Guardians You’re Looking For

You’ve heard about that new movie that just opened in theaters this weekend, right? The one where Chris Pratt from Parks & Rec uses those hunky new abs he began sculpting for Zero Dark Thirty and puts them toward attaining leading-man status? And we meet the best CG characters since Caesar and Gollum? And there are about forty other characters you get to meet from the deepest corners of the Marvel universe?

If you believe 25% of my site traffic over the past two days, that movie is called…

Rise of the Guardians!

Rise of the Guardians!

On a related note, 25% of my site traffic is wrong. Right this way for more practical advice…

My 2012 Movies in Retrospect, #23-16

Everyone knows January is National List Month on the Internet, that sacred tradition when the previous year’s creations must be remembered, recapped, and ranked. I’m not immune to the impulse myself. I like movies. I like making lists. It’s bound to happen. For fun-related reasons, since 2000 I’ve kept track of every movie I’ve seen in a theater, year by year. My list is shorter than a real critic’s because no one pays me to go see every release. I do what I can within my means and according to my curiosity level.

The final tabulations reveal I saw twenty-six films in theaters in 2012. However, three of those were officially 2011 releases and are therefore disqualified from being ranked on my 2012 Movies list. Any films I saw on home video — 2012 or otherwise — are also disqualified due to lack of theater. In addition, Les Miserables is disqualified from inclusion because I’m planning to see it this weekend, which will purportedly not fall in 2012. My movie-ranking rules are few, but there they are.

Part one of this three-part miniseries begins with the films I loved least. Links to past reviews and musings are provided for the twenty movies I previously discussed after MCC was launched. Apparently I only saw three 2012 releases prior to April 28, 2012. Blame it on the first-quarter release wasteland.

On with the reverse countdown:

Wrath of the Titans23. Wrath of the Titans. The explosions were clearly the star of the show. The labyrinth lent a welcome assist as the explosions’ chief henchman. The underworld was lacking, and perhaps should’ve spent more time as an understudy to the underworld from Spawn. Now that was a classy underworld, one that really chewed the scenery but was nonetheless generous to its costars, much more of a team player.

The human cast, on the other hand, was largely wasted, and sometimes blocked our view of the real stars. Except for Toby Kebbell’s mild comic relief, the non-CG actors mostly made bold pronouncements at each other, while every move they make requires a bombastic sound effect. Sam Worthington swats at someone, and BOOM! The most nondescript Ares in film history pummels a foe, and SEISMIC THUNDERCRACK! A sleepwalking Liam Neeson tosses lightning darts, and CORE MELTDOWN! Anyone blinks twice, and GATLING GUN! Mostly this felt like a video game sequel to a video game based on the first film. The graphics were bright and easy to absorb, but I get antsy and bored when that’s all I’m doing.

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Yes, There’s a Scene During the “Rise of the Guardians” End Credits

For anyone who ever pined for a children’s version of The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen, Dreamworks has answered your odd prayer with Rise of the Guardians, an adaptation of an ongoing book series by Rolie Polie Olie creator and Academy Award-winning author/animator William Joyce, whose WikiPedia entry names a surprising number of other works in which he had a hand.

I don’t know how closely the movie hews to the books’ original premise, but the big-screen version is an all-star supergroup featuring the world’s most popular public-domain holiday icons — Santa Claus, the Easter Bunny, the Tooth Fairy, the Sandman (not, alas, the Neil Gaiman version), and impudent new recruit Jack Frost. Under the guiding light of the mysterious Man in the Moon, Our Heroes are tasked with preserving the precious beliefs of children worldwide who lend each icon their powers and make their respective holidays possible. The foe that unites them is the Boogeyman, who plots to dispel all that belief, render the Guardians moot, and divert the world’s thoughts unto himself so that he might rule with terror and nightmares. Presumably this radical shift in the status quo would leave the Gregorian calendar depressingly blank except for Halloween and Tax Day.

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