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Dreamworks Animation presents it's first holiday centric feature with "Rise of the Guardians", an Avengers-esque feature focusing on the mythical characters all children have grown up with.
Based on William Joyce's ongoing "Guardians of Childhood", the film picks up centuries after each of the books made to date, introducing the audience to the main guardian of the film, Jack Frost, a teenage guardian who is more of a free spirit, than hard working guardian of children. Jack would rather avoid the guardian life style due to centuries of not being believed by the children, therefore not being visible to them as the film showcases, this provides a nice character trait of just wanting to know the why of his situation that really engages the audience in his plight.
Jack Frost is quickly pulled from the comfort of no responsibilities when a great evil, Pitch Black, or as the children know him as the Boogeyman, threatens to once again bring the dark ages to the world so that his presence is believed by the children once more. The only line of defense for the children are a special group of guardians consisting of members chosen by the Man on the Moon (an unseen Godlike being who creates the mythical beings of the stories) consisting of, Santa Claus, the Sandman, the Tooth Fairy,the Easter Bunny, and their latest recruit, Jack Frost. The team is more of a re-imagining to the characters everyone has grown up with, Santa is a Russian with not only elves, but yetis as well, the Sandman, nicknamed Sandy, can conjure anything up with the sand he uses (making him the mute of the group, using the sand to communicate for him); this change makes Sandy a bit of the standout from the group; the Tooth Fairy has an army to assist her in her duties, the Easter Bunny is portrayed almost like an Australian action hero (complete with accent) which lends him more of an kangaroo-like appearance. While re-imaginings tend to go wrong very easily, the characters, and their dynamic as a team is what makes this work so very well, this is where the film is strongest, it really provides more than enough to carry the film, and its sequels, if it hopefully does get sequels.
From a visual perspective, it is fairly obvious that Guillermo Del Toro (the film's executive producer) left his own mark all over the film, it's a beauty to look at, giving the audience the large scope of a film like this should. In terms of the technical aspect, "Rise" provides some of the best quality seen in an animated film, and the best in Dreamworks' history as an animation studio. The most interesting things to look at in the film is the animation on the sand as it constantly shifts into different objects, creatures and vehicles.
Unlike a lot of the features from Dreamworks Animation, this film is an action/adventure film, its surprising to see a feature less devoted to comedy from the company everyone expects nothing but comedies from. The change in genre also makes the film standout more by having no real pop culture gags in sight, as well as avoid many cheap shots at various mythical creatures as the film could have had given its concept. "Rise" has its story, it devotes itself to it, it devotes itself to its characters, and it devotes itself to the emotion of the film.
Disney Animation Studios releases it's 52nd film, Wreck-It Ralph, a tribute to videogames, telling the story of a bad guy who wants to prove he can be a good guy. The amount of visual styles seen throughout the film is simply amazing, from the more jerky movements of the 8-bit characters, to the more cartoony movements of "Sugar Rush" this film is a treat to watch. Disney clearly must have pushed the animators to their hardest, the accomplishments of the animation is simply astounding. The world of "Sugar Rush", a candy kart racer, is the most appealing to look at, mostly because everything looks as delicious as possible. "Hero's Duty", a shooter game within the film, is no slouch in the animation department either, the dark world feels perfect for a modern day shooter, it's almost too perfect in conveying how shooter games look like. Going back to the movement of the film, the animators really show that their videogame studies worked, the characters move exactly as one would expect they would in high definition graphics, the nicelanders (characters of the game Ralph works in) move very stiff, in contrast to the inhabitants of either "Sugar Rush" and "Hero's Duty", while Ralph and Felix both move somewhere in between because they are the major characters of the game their in, making them have more movement animation, compared to the background characters of their game.
The main draw to the film was of course it's cameos, there are plentiful for gamers, but thankfully it never takes away from the fantastic story the film has. The film is at it's core a story of learning what a true hero is, rather than what in videogame terms (earning medals) has it being, Ralph isn't a hero for getting a medal like his coworker, he's a hero for learning to help those with bigger issues than his own. In the film Ralph undergoes a change of heart when he meets Vanellope, a character facing a similar predicament of not being appreciated by the characters of her world. The heart of the film is that, a pair of misfits trying to find acceptance from their peers, it's touching, in fact it's one of the most touching seen from the studio in a long time. One of the other great things of the film's story is how well information is revealed to the audience, keeping to it a sense of mystery for the viewer. "Ralph" finds its way of incorporating the game feeling well in the movie, right down to even having a big boss-esque final fight.
Wreck-It Ralph, it's easily the best animated film of the year, as well as the best film centering videogames ever made, the characters are great, the animation is great, the actors, story, settings, everything is great. Watch it in theaters.
The film opened to a short film titled Paperman It's a beautiful short, combining Drawn and computerized animation, creating for a great, and interesting film to look at. The film focuses on a man who meets a woman, he falls in love and tries to use paper planes to get her attention, keyword TRIES. It's great how well it's told visually and deserves a nomination in the least for the studio at the Oscars. This is something one will definitely not want to miss out on.
Comic book hero Judge Dredd, gets a second shot at a movie with "Dredd", with an R rating, one would expect this to be a bloody massacre of an action film, the quality to it is where most would be curious.
At a time where many films are frightened to go for the R, "Dredd" takes it to its full potential, the action is amazing to look at, as well as bloody. Every action piece is well set up,