Rise of the Guardians is a surprisingly magical fantasy tale that isn’t as silly as the concept seems at first blush. When the world is threatened by a creeping evil that is slowly snuffing out the innocence of young children a super team of legendary myths are drawn together by the Man in the Moon to save the day.
But Rise of the Guardians doesn’t play for camp, and by taking the source material seriously director Peter Ramsey creates a satisfying adventure film with a plot that drives forward without sacrificing character. A novel take on a familiar story, Guardians is a fun adventure that twists familiar characters while not forgetting their essence.
The film comes from the perspective of Jack Frost, the impish harbinger of winter. His love for fun is matched only for his passion for mischief. He’s recruited to help the Guardians when Pitch Black (the Boogie Man) makes a play for the dreams of kids around the world. Frost joins North (Santa), a Russian warrior who shares only a passing resemblance to the jolly old elf who sells Coca-Cola; Bunny (of the Easter variety) an Aussie warrior who uses magical holes to go wherever he needs; Sandman, the master of dreams; Tooth (a fairy) who guards a treasure more precious than the discarded pieces of human jaw.
A great team dynamic is predicated on personality conflict and there’s plenty of that; nobody really gets along until it’s essential. Each character is fully realized but the filmmakers don’t dwell on them, instead letting them develop organically during the course of the story.
The 3D animation is delightful, providing an enveloping experience. Likewise Alexandre Desplait’s musical accompaniment is classic superhero with enough holiday spirit to keep it from becoming generic and stale.
As with any superhero film, Guardians lives and dies by its villain. Pitch seems familiar, pulling bits of Hades from Hercules, but he’s his own figure. More than a mere villain bent on destruction and control, there is more driving Pitch and his motivation makes him understandable, through a cracked lens. But he’s also spooky and as warning to parents the movie might be a little too intense for kids under 8.
A generic frame undergirds Guardians but the filmmakers have given it some fascinating, original trappings that keep it fresh and fascinating. The film is based on the novels of William Joyce (who penned the book that inspired Meet the Robinsons) and that storytelling pedigree is readily apparent.
Rise of the Guardians was a surprise, sharing more with How To Train Your Dragon, Lord of the Rings, and X-Men than with Shrek. The jokes aren’t rapid-fire pop culture references but instead germane to the story, a refreshing change from most animated movies. In that way Rise of the Guardians will have legs both at the box office and at home. A good story, well-told; Rise of the Guardians is easy to recommend.
Recommended If You Like:
Had you told me that Ang Lee’s Life of Pi, a movie ostensibly about a boy trapped on a life raft, adrift in the middle of the Pacific Ocean would be one of the most engaging, beautiful, and thought-provoking movies of the year, I would have thought you an exaggerator. And yet I sat transfixed for two hours as the story unfolded on screen. This adaptation of a popular novel stands as a brilliant fable about life, family and survival against all odds.
Irrfan Kahn (Slumdog Millionaire) stars as the aged Pi, telling the story of his life to a visiting novelist who has himself hit an inspirational wall. Where many scriptwriters would advise you to jump into the action, Lee decompresses the story and allows Pi to tell the audience about himself, including the origins of his unusual name, his dalliance with a variety of religions in his native India, and his first heartbreaking love. Once Pi gets on the boat we care about his survival, reveling in his successes and wincing with his failures.
Moreover, allowing the film to establish character gives the audience a reason to root for Pi on his amazing journey. And what a journey it is.
I won’t go into detail about the trials that face Pi while trapped on a lifeboat with a hungry tiger, but suffice to say that newcomer Suraj Sharma gives a magnificent, flawless performance as a boy who has great faith but is tested in a way that Jonah could never imagine.
The film stumbles in its closing moments, laying out the implications of Pi’s story instead of leaving the audience to interpret and divine metaphor from reality. While it removes mystery the conclusion doesn’t lessen the impact of the journey we’ve taken with our narrator.
Cinematically, Life of Pi is stunning. Cinematographer Claudio Miranda replicates the surreal historical look of Benjamin Button but with a spectacular depth of color. The reality of the events on the boat is never questioned, as we have an intimate portrait of Pi that never lets us forget about his isolation, desolation and desperation. Punctuated by magnificent 3D effects that make the ocean seem to go on into infinity while allowing a few moment of pure terror when a tiger jumps at us, Life of Pi is the best live-action implementation of the technology since Hugo.
Life of Pi is not without flaws. The ending fell flat, as mentioned. While most of the supporting cast was strong, Rafe Spall is distracting in his minor but essential role as a writer who comes to Pi seeking a story that will restore his faith in God.
On the whole, however, I was impressed with Life of Pi. It’s a religious experience but never preachy about it which is a refreshing change. Director Ang Lee often overwhelms his story with the message he’s trying to push (Brokeback Mountain, The Wedding Banquet, Hulk) but he strikes a balance with Pi. A family-appropriate story that may try the patience of younger audiences, I found Pi mesmerizing.
Recommended If You Like:
I feel as though I could write a review of Red Dawn without seeing the remake of the jingoistic 80s cult classic. "Small-town kids get guns, battle back Russians North Koreans." All without ever stopping to reflect on the irony that at least two of the people on that poster aren't American.
I realize that a great many people love the original, and it's not without its charms. But it was very much a portrait of its age when there was a clear and present danger (being presented by the US Government to keep the people in line). That said, it was a bad movie; I recently revisited it in anticipation of the remake. Apologies to people who love it, but it hasn't aged well. So with a bigger budget, better effects and a decent cast the filmmakers set out to break no new ground whatsoever.
I missed the preview, unfortunately. And when I sent an email asking a peer whose opinion I respect what she thought of it, she replied simply "'Merica."
(*) Like a fruit cake or ugly sweater under the tree.
(**) Decent enough to warrant its existence.
(***) Now we're talking about holiday cheer!
(****) A Christmas classic!
|Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade 2012||NBC||Nov 22, 9:00AM|
|The Thanksgiving Day Parade on CBS||CBS||Nov 22, 9:00AM|
|A Charlie Brown Thanksgiving (****)||ABC||Nov 22, 8:00PM|
|In Search of Santa Claus||SMTHSN||Nov 22, 10:00PM|
|The Santa Suit||HALMRK||Nov 23, 1:00AM|
|This Christmas||TBS||Nov 23, 10:00AM|
|A Christmas Wedding Tail||HALMRK||Nov 23, 5:00PM|
|Four Christmases||TBS||Nov 23, 6:00PM|
|Jingle All The Way (*)||HALMRK||Nov 23, 7:30PM|
|Fred Claus (**)||TBS||Nov 23, 8:00PM|
|Frosty the Snowman (****)||CBS||Nov 23, 8:00PM|
|Happiness is a Warm Blanket, Charlie Brown (***)||FOX||Nov 23, 8:00PM|
|12 Wishes of Christmas||ION||Nov 23, 8:00PM|
|Grandma Got Run Over by a Reindeer (**)||CW||Nov 23, 8:00PM|
|Frosty Returns||CBS||Nov 23, 8:30PM|
|Hoops & Yoyo Ruin Christmas||CBS||Nov 23, 8:30PM|
|The Happy Elf||CW||Nov 23, 9:00PM|
|It's a Spongebob Christmas||CBS||Nov 23, 9:30PM|
|A Holiday Heist||ION||Nov 25, 1:00PM|
|Christmas Town||ION||Nov 25, 3:00PM|
|A Golden Christmas||ION||Nov 25, 5:00PM|
|A Golden Christmas 2||ION||Nov 25, 7:00PM|
|Home Alone: The Holiday Heist||ABCFAM||Nov 25, 8:00PM|
|Golden Christmas 3||ION||Nov 25, 9:00PM|
|Christmas In Rockefeller Center 2012||NBC||Nov 28, 7:00PM|
|SNL Christmas||NBC||Nov 28, 9:00PM|
|A Charlie Brown Christmas (****)||ABC||Nov 28, 8:00PM|
|Mickey's Christmas Carol||ABCFAM||Nov 29, 6:00PM|
|The Christmas List||ABCFAM||Nov 29, 12:00AM|
|Santa Baby||ABCFAM||Nov 30, 4:00PM|
|Santa Baby 2: Christmas Maybe||ABCFAM||Nov 30, 6:00PM|
|Mickey's Once Upon a Christmas||ABCFAM||Dec 1, 7:00AM|
|Richie Rich's Christmas Wish||ABCFAM||Dec 1, 8:30AM|
|A Dennis the Menace Christmas||ABCFAM||Dec 1, 10:30AM|
|Miracle on 34th Street (1994) (***)||ABCFAM||Dec 1, 12:30PM|
|Jack Frost (1998)||ABCFAM||Dec 1, 6:00PM|
|It's a Wonderful Life (****)||NBC||Dec 1, 8:00PM|
|Elf (****)||ABCFAM||Dec 1, 8:00PM|
|Snowglobe||ABCFAM||Dec 1, 12:00AM|
|Mickey's Twice Upon a Christmas||ABCFAM||Dec 2, 7:00AM|
|Miracle on 34th Street (1994)||ABCFAM||Dec 2, 8:30AM|
|Hoops and Yoyo Ruin Christmas||HALMRK||Dec 2, 10:30AM|
|I Saw Mommy Kissing Santa Claus||ABCFAM||Dec 2, 11:00AM|
|The Search for Santa Paws||ABCFAM||Dec 2, 1:00PM|
|Jack Frost (1998)||ABCFAM||Dec 2, 3:00PM|
|Elf||ABCFAM||Dec 2, 5:00PM|
|The Holiday||TBS||Dec 2, 5:15PM|
|A Star for Christmas||ION||Dec 2, 7:00PM|
|Dr. Seuss' How the Grinch Stole Christmas (****)||ABCFAM||Dec 2, 7:00PM|
|A Christmas Wedding Date||ION||Dec 2, 9:00PM|
|'Twas the Night Before Christmas||ABCFAM||Dec 3, 5:00PM|
|Rudolph's Shiny New Year||ABCFAM||Dec 3, 5:30PM|
|Rudolph and the Island of Misfit Toys (***)||ABCFAM||Dec 3, 6:30PM|
|National Lampoon's Christmas Vacation||ABCFAM||Dec 3, 8:00PM|
|Blake Shelton's Not So Family Christmas||NBC||Dec 3, 10:00PM|
|Holiday in Handcuffs||ABCFAM||Dec 3, 12:00AM|
|Rudolph's Shiny New Year||ABCFAM||Dec 4, 4:30PM|
|Mickey's Christmas Carol (****)||ABCFAM||Dec 4, 5:30PM|
|Winnie the Pooh & Christmas Too||ABCFAM||Dec 4, 6:00PM|
|Jack Frost (1979)||ABCFAM||Dec 4, 6:30PM|
|Frosty's Winter Wonderland||ABCFAM||Dec 4, 7:30PM|
|Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer (****)||CBS||Dec 4, 8:00PM|
|Elf||ABCFAM||Dec 4, 8:00PM|
|Fred Claus||ABCFAM||Dec 4, 10:00PM|
|Frosty's Winter Wonderland||ABCFAM||Dec 4, 12:30AM|
|Jack Frost (1979)||ABCFAM||Dec 4, 1:00AM|
|Fred Claus||ABCFAM||Dec 5, 2:30PM|
|Elf||ABCFAM||Dec 5, 5:00PM|
|Home Alone (***)||ABCFAM||Dec 5, 7:00PM|
|The Polar Express (***)||ABCFAM||Dec 5, 9:00PM|
|Home Alone||ABCFAM||Dec 5, 12:00AM|
|Rudolph & Frosty's Christmas in July||ABCFAM||Dec 6, 4:00PM|
|The Polar Express||ABCFAM||Dec 6, 6:00PM|
|Disney's A Christmas Carol (****)||ABCFAM||Dec 6, 8:00PM|
|Elf||ABCFAM||Dec 6, 10:00PM|
|Elf||ABCFAM||Dec 7, 3:00PM|
|Disney's A Christmas Carol||ABCFAM||Dec 7, 5:00PM|
|The Santa Clause||ABCFAM||Dec 7, 7:00PM|
|Blake Shelton's Not So Family Christmas||NBC||Dec 7, 8:00PM|
|The Santa Clause 3: The Escape Clause||ABCFAM||Dec 7, 9:00PM|
|12 Dates of Christmas||ABCFAM||Dec 7, 12:00AM|
|Fred Claus||ABCFAM||Dec 8, 1:30PM|
|The Santa Clause (***)||ABCFAM||Dec 8, 4:00PM|
|The Santa Clause 3: The Escape Clause||ABCFAM||Dec 8, 6:00PM|
|The Flight Before Christmas||CBS||Dec 8, 9:00PM|
|Santa Baby||ABCFAM||Dec 8, 12:00AM|
|A Night at the Movies: Merry Christmas!||TCM||Dec 9, 12;00PM|
|Mandie and the Forgotten Christmas||ION||Dec 9, 1:00PM|
|Anything But Christmas||ION||Dec 9, 7:00PM|
|Disney Prep & Landing||ABC||Dec 9, 8:00PM|
|Disney Prep & Landing: Naughty vs Nice||ABC||Dec 9, 8:30PM|
|Hallmark Hall of Fame: Christmas with Holly||ABC||Dec 9, 9:00PM|
|Christmas Mail||ION||Dec 9, 9:00PM|
|Mickey's Christmas Carol||ABCFAM||Dec 10, 5:00PM|
|Jack Frost (1979)||ABCFAM||Dec 10, 5:30PM|
|Frosty's Winter Wonderland||ABCFAM||Dec 10, 6:30PM|
|The Year Without a Santa Claus (**)||ABCFAM||Dec 10, 7:00PM|
|Santa Claus Is Comin' to Town||ABCFAM||Dec 10, 8:00PM|
|Home Alone||ABCFAM||Dec 10, 9:00PM|
|Michael Buble Christmas Special||NBC||Dec 10, 10:00PM|
|Home Alone: The Holiday Heist||ABCFAM||Dec 10, 12:00AM|
|Home Alone||ABCFAM||Dec 11, 5:00PM|
|The Santa Clause||ABCFAM||Dec 11, 7:00PM|
|Santa Claus is Comin' to Town||ABC||Dec 11, 8:00PM|
|The Santa Clause 3: The Escape Clause||ABCFAM||Dec 11, 9:00PM|
|Chasing Christmas||ABCFAM||Dec 11, 12:00AM|
|The Santa Clause||ABCFAM||Dec 12, 5:00PM|
|The Santa Clause 3: The Escape Clause||ABCFAM||Dec 12, 7:00PM|
|National Lampoon's Christmas Vacation (****)||ABCFAM||Dec 12, 9:00PM|
|Christmas Do-Over||ABCFAM||Dec 12, 12:00AM|
|The Mistle-Tones||ABCFAM||Dec 13, 5:00PM|
|National Lampoon's Christmas Vacation||ABCFAM||Dec 13, 7:00PM|
|Christmas in the White House||NBC||Dec 13, 8:00PM|
|The Polar Express||ABCFAM||Dec 13, 9:00PM|
|Christmas Every Day||ABCFAM||Dec 13, 12:00AM|
|The Polar Express||ABCFAM||Dec 14, 7:00PM|
|Prancer Returns||CW||Dec 14, 8:00PM|
|Yes, Virginia||CBS||Dec 14, 9:00PM|
|The Elf on the Shelf: An Elf's Story||CBS||Dec 14, 9:30PM|
|The Little Drummer Boy||ABCFAM||Dec 15, 8:00AM|
|The Little Drummer Boy Book II||ABCFAM||Dec 15, 8:30AM|
|Nestor, the Long-Eared Christmas Donkey||ABCFAM||Dec 15, 9:00AM|
|Pinocchio's Christmas||ABCFAM||Dec 15, 9:30AM|
|A Miser Brothers' Christmas||ABCFAM||Dec 15, 10:30AM|
|The Story of the First Christmas Snow||ABCFAM||Dec 15, 11:30AM|
|'Twas the Night Before Christmas||ABCFAM||Dec 15, 12:00PM|
|Frosty's Winter Wonderland||ABCFAM||Dec 15, 12:30PM|
|Jack Frost (1979)||ABCFAM||Dec 15, 1:00PM|
|Rudolph & Frosty's Christmas in July||ABCFAM||Dec 15, 2:00PM|
|Disney's A Christmas Carol||ABCFAM||Dec 15, 4:00PM|
|Elf||CBS||Dec 15, 8:00PM|
|Santa Claus Is Comin' to Town||ABCFAM||Dec 15, 10:00PM|
|The Year Without a Santa Claus||ABCFAM||Dec 15, 11:00PM|
|Jack Frost (1998)||ABCFAM||Dec 15, 12:00AM|
|Richie Rich's Christmas Wish||ABCFAM||Dec 16, 7:00AM|
|Home Alone: The Holiday Heist||ABCFAM||Dec 16, 9:00AM|
|Home Alone 4||ABCFAM||Dec 16, 11:00AM|
|The Year Without a Santa Claus||ABCFAM||Dec 16, 1:00PM|
|Santa Claus Is Comin' to Town||ABCFAM||Dec 16, 2:00PM|
|Disney's A Christmas Carol||ABCFAM||Dec 16, 3:00PM|
|A Christmas Kiss||ION||Dec 16, 7:00PM|
|A Carol for Another Christmas||TCM||Dec 16, 8:00PM|
|Christmas Twister||ION||Dec 16, 9:00PM|
|A Christmas Carol (1951)||TCM||Dec 16, 9:30PM|
|A Night at the Movies: Merry Christmas!||TCM||Dec 16, 11:00PM|
|Sons of Mistletoe||ABCFAM||Dec 17, 11:00AM|
|Christmas Every Day||ABCFAM||Dec 17, 1:00PM|
|Christmas Do-Over||ABCFAM||Dec 17, 3:00PM|
|Dr. Seuss on the Loose||ABCFAM||Dec 17, 5:00PM|
|Dr. Seuss' The Lorax||ABCFAM||Dec 17, 5:30PM|
|Dr. Seuss' The Cat in the Hat||ABCFAM||Dec 17, 6:00PM|
|Dr. Seuss' How the Grinch Stole Christmas||ABCFAM||Dec 17, 7:00PM|
|Dreamworks Dragons: Gift of the Night Fury||FOX||Dec 17, 8:00PM|
|Ice Age: A Mammoth Christmas||FOX||Dec 17, 8:30PM|
|Happiness is a Warm Blanket, Charlie Brown||FOX||Dec 17, 9:00PM|
|The Mistle-Tones||ABCFAM||Dec 17, 12:00AM|
|The Life & Adventures of Santa Claus||ABCFAM||Dec 18, 11:00AM|
|Frosty's Winter Wonderland||ABCFAM||Dec 18, 12:00PM|
|Santa Who?||ABCFAM||Dec 18, 12:30PM|
|The Christmas List||ABCFAM||Dec 18, 2:30PM|
|Disney Prep & Landing||ABCFAM||Dec 18, 4:30PM|
|Disney Prep & Landing: Naughty vs. Nice||ABCFAM||Dec 18, 5:00PM|
|Miracle on 34th Street (1994)||ABCFAM||Dec 18, 5:30PM|
|It's A Very Merry Muppet Christmas Movie||CW||Dec 18, 8:00PM|
|Dr. Seuss' How the Grinch Stole Christmas (****)||ABC||Dec 18, 8:00PM|
|Shrek the Halls||ABC||Dec 18, 8:30PM|
|Home Alone||ABCFAM||Dec 18, 8:00PM|
|The Polar Express||ABCFAM||Dec 18, 10:00PM|
|Christmas in Boston||ABCFAM||Dec 19, 8:00AM|
|Three Days||ABCFAM||Dec 19, 12:00PM|
|The Family Man||ABCFAM||Dec 19, 2:00PM|
|Home Alone||ABCFAM||Dec 19, 5:00PM|
|The Polar Express||ABCFAM||Dec 19, 7:00PM|
|Noel||CW||Dec 19, 8:00PM|
|Disney's A Christmas Carol||ABCFAM||Dec 19, 9:00PM|
|Three Days||ABCFAM||Dec 19, 12:00AM|
|Christmas Caper||ABCFAM||Dec 20, 11:00AM|
|Secret Santa||ABCFAM||Dec 20, 1:00PM|
|The Mistle-Tones||ABCFAM||Dec 20, 3:00PM|
|12 Dates of Christmas||ABCFAM||Dec 20, 5:00PM|
|Disney's A Christmas Carol||ABCFAM||Dec 20, 7:00PM|
|A Charlie Brown Christmas||ABC||Dec 20, 8:00PM|
|CMA Country Christmas||ABC||Dec 20. 9:00PM|
|National Lampoon's Christmas Vacation||ABCFAM||Dec 20, 9:00PM|
|Santa Baby||ABCFAM||Dec 20, 12:00AM|
|Christmas Cupid||ABCFAM||Dec 21, 9:00AM|
|Snowglobe||ABCFAM||Dec 21, 11:00AM|
|Santa Baby||ABCFAM||Dec 21, 1:00PM|
|Santa Baby 2 Christmas Maybe||ABCFAM||Dec 21, 3:00PM|
|Holiday in Handcuffs||ABCFAM||Dec 21, 5:00PM|
|National Lampoon's Christmas Vacation||ABCFAM||Dec 21, 7:00PM|
|I Want a Dog for Christmas Charlie Brown!||ABC||Dec 21, 8:00PM|
|Michael Buble Christmas Special||NBC||Dec 21, 8:00PM|
|The Happy Elf||CW||Dec 21, 8:00PM|
|Christmas in the White House||NBC||Dec 21, 9:00PM|
|Grandma Got Run Over By a Reindeer||CW||Dec 21, 9:00PM|
|The Santa Clause||ABCFAM||Dec 21, 9:00PM|
Holiday in Handcuffs
|ABCFAM||Dec 21, 12:00AM|
|Mickey's Once Upon a Christmas||ABCFAM||Dec 22, 7:00AM|
|Mickey's Twice Upon a Christmas||ABCFAM||Dec 22, 8:30AM|
|Disney Prep & Landing||ABCFAM||Dec 22, 10:00AM|
|Disney Prep & Landing: Naughty vs. Nice||ABCFAM||Dec 22, 10:30AM|
|Mickey's Christmas Carol||ABCFAM||Dec 22, 11:00AM|
|Winnie the Pooh & Christmas Too||ABCFAM||Dec 22, 11:30AM|
|A Chipmunk Christmas||ABCFAM||Dec 22, 12:00PM|
|Rudolph and the Island of Misfit Toys||ABCFAM||Dec 22, 12:30PM|
|Rudolph's Shiny New Year||ABCFAM||Dec 22, 2:00PM|
|A Miser Brothers' Christmas||ABCFAM||Dec 22, 3:00PM|
|The Year Without a Santa Claus||ABCFAM||Dec 22, 4:00PM|
|Santa Claus Is Comin' to Town||ABCFAM||Dec 22, 5:00PM|
|The Santa Clause||ABCFAM||Dec 22, 6:00PM|
|Mister Magoo's Christmas Carol||NBC||Dec 22, 8:00PM|
|Prep & Landing: Naughty vs Nice||ABC||Dec 22, 8:00PM|
|A Chipmunk Christmas||ABC||Dec 22, 8:30PM|
|CMA Country Christmas||ABC||Dec 22, 9:00PM|
|The Santa Clause 2||ABCFAM||Dec 22, 8:00PM|
|The Santa Clause 3: The Escape Clause||ABCFAM||Dec 22, 10:00PM|
The Santa Clause 2
|ABCFAM||Dec 22, 12:00AM|
|Rudolph and the Island of Misfit Toys||ABCFAM||Dec 23, 7:00AM|
|A Dennis the Menace Christmas||ABCFAM||Dec 23, 8:30AM|
|Unaccompanied Minors||ABCFAM||Dec 23, 10:30AM|
|Fred Claus||ABCFAM||Dec 23, 12:30PM|
|Willy Wonka & the Chocolate Factory||ABCFAM||Dec 23, 3:00PM|
|The Polar Express||ABCFAM||Dec 23, 5:00PM|
|The Sound of Music||ABC||Dec 23, 7:00PM|
|Dr. Seuss' How the Grinch Stole Christmas||ABCFAM||Dec 23, 7:00PM|
|The Polar Express||ABCFAM||Dec 24, 1:00PM|
|The Santa Clause||ABCFAM||Dec 24, 3:00PM|
|Holiday Affair||TCM||Dec 24, 4:30PM|
|The Santa Clause 2||ABCFAM||Dec 24, 5:00PM|
|Babes in Toyland||TCM||Dec 24, 6:30PM|
|The Santa Clause 3: The Escape Clause||ABCFAM||Dec 24, 7:00PM|
|A Christmas Story (****) Click for Justin's Review||TBS||Dec 24, 8:00PM|
|It's a Wonderful Life||NBC||Dec 24, 8:00PM|
|Christmas is Here Again||CW||Dec 24, 8:00PM|
|Disney Prep & Landing||ABC||Dec 24, 8:00PM|
|Shrek the Halls||ABC||Dec 24, 8:30PM|
|Home Alone||ABCFAM||Dec 24, 9:00PM|
|Second Star to the Left||CW||Dec 24, 9:30PM|
|Come to the Stable||TCM||Dec 24, 10:00PM|
|National Lampoon's Christmas Vacation||ABCFAM||Dec 24, 12:00AM|
|A Christmas Story (24 hr. MARATHON continues)||TBS|
|Disney's A Christmas Carol||ABCFAM||Dec 25, 7:00AM|
|Going My Way||TCM||Dec 25, 7:30AM|
|A Chipmunk Christmas (***) Click for Justin's Review||ABCFAM||Dec 25, 9:00AM|
|The Santa Clause||ABCFAM||Dec 25, 11:00AM|
|Disney Christmas Parade||ABC||Dec 25, 12:00PM|
|The Santa Clause 2||ABCFAM||Dec 25, 1:00PM|
|The Santa Clause 3: The Escape Clause||ABCFAM||Dec 25, 3:00PM|
|King of Kings||TCM||Dec 25, 5:00PM|
|Disney's A Christmas Carol||ABCFAM||Dec 25, 5:00PM|
|Home Alone||ABCFAM||Dec 25, 7:00PM|
|How the Grinch Stole Christmas (animated)||ABC||Dec 25, 8:00PM|
|How the Grinch Stole Christmas (theatrical)||ABC||Dec 25, 8:30PM|
|National Lampoon's Christmas Vacation||ABCFAM||Dec 25, 9:00PM|
|The Santa Clause 2||ABCFAM||Dec 25, 12:00AM|
The final movie in the Twilight Saga, Breaking Dawn part 2 finally gets that we’ve all been laughing at them this whole time. Granted they have cashed that laughter in for billions of dollars worldwide (and no doubt this finale will earn them even more loot) but the grim, melodramatic seriousness that has marked the series lifts, briefly, as the characters observe just how silly is their world. That Jacob is constantly taking his clothes off in front of strangers? Odd. That vampires are little more than immortal perverts? Humorous. That Bella finally understands why vamps hate werewolves (they stink)? Not that funny, actually. But fans of the series will be relieved that their observations are reflected on screen in this final installment.
And, I’m happy to report, the vampires sparkle. Or at least Bella does, once. And then they forget that they’re supposed to sparkle again.
But as to the question of the quality of the final movie of The Twilight Saga? It’s the best movie in the series. But still not a good movie.
The final book in the Stephanie Meyer series should not have been divorced into two movies—the first half-hour of Part 2 moves at a turgid pace, overloaded with overwrought melodrama and inane dialogue delivered without any panache or vigor. Once the film gets back to its primary plot—helping the Cullen family avoid slaughter by the evil ruling vampire class—it races through the assembly of mutants vampires with special abilities (they’re not the X-Men, though, that’s a totally different movie) to help them fight one last battle for the future of the horribly named Renesmee.
Director Bill Condon and writer Melissa Rosenberg made some important changes to the source material to properly adapt this book to the screen. Instead of being a baby, Renesmee ages quickly because of her human/vampire hybrid blood. This makes the eternal love between she and Jacob less creepy and more “adoring uncle.” Likewise, rather than having the final battle be a battle of psychic wits between two characters, it plays out as an epic, physical battle with numerous fallen soldiers on both sides.
The battle is intense, and several sources say it had to be re-edited to avoid an R-rating for this teenage-targeted flick. It’s also the only redeeming thing about this movie. (They recruit a guy who claims to have been in every American battle since the Revolution yet their strategy is to run directly at their opponents. Brilliant.)
I’m not going to go into detail, but the soft lighting and overdramatic music are cringe-inducing attempts at manipulation. Poor pacing, bad dialogue and worse performances make this clunker watchable only for fans.
Recommended If You Like:
With Lincoln Steven Spielberg has bolstered his already-impressive resume and cemented his status as not only America’s premiere filmmaker but also one of the best in the history of cinema. A magnificent achievement that is both a satisfying glimpse into a significant moment in history and a definitive portrait of an American icon, Lincoln blew me away. While the movie was not what I was expecting, what it provided was so much more than I could have imagined. Lincoln is wholeheartedly recommended.
The marketing materials for Spielberg’s film focus solely on the titular character but that is misleading. While he is the central figure, the story revolves around the political battle to pass the 13th Amendment to the Constitution, banning slavery in the United States. There are wonderful performances from incredible actors including David Strathairn, Tommy Lee Jones, James Spader, John Hawkes and Jackie Earle Haley. But none hold a candle to--or will be mentioned with as much awe and reverence as--Daniel Day Lewis who creates the definitive portrait of Abraham Lincoln. His influence is felt as a specter hanging over the proceedings in the congressional chambers (or, more appropriately, a puppeteer making his marionettes dance). But this is not his film alone, and there is a fascinating story to be told about the political maneuvering needed to pass the 13th Amendment before the end of the Civil War.
Spielberg’s film reflects the even, thoughtful temperament of its primary subject. There are no villains in this movie, only people whose motivations seem contrary to our modern sensibility. It would be easy to craft a movie where proponents of keeping slavery legal were moustache-twirling sociopaths who just want to keep the black man down. Instead Spielberg allows them to have their say, which helps the audience understand history rather than merely taking a side and casting judgment. There are varying degrees of opposition including those who believe that ending slavery will prolong the bloody Civil War; those who believe that ending slavery would cripple the nation’s economy. Still others say that slavery is a moral wrong but must be weaned out because ending the practice too fast would lead to chaos. Rounding these perspectives out we can see their point but, in the light of history, just how very wrong they were.
Historical accuracy was incredibly important to the filmmakers but they are not slaves to the details. Spielberg, a deft storyteller, includes the moments that will make history buffs applaud but does not linger on them, rather leaving them to enhance the movie’s narrative. But the details of the legislative process and the (from a modern perspective) utter lack of decorum in the halls of Congress will be jarring for audiences accustomed to the droning and moralizing we see on C-Span. A nation still developing, our Congress was still comporting themselves like the brash houses of London. It was not unexpected that a speaker would be interrupted by the opposition with a cutting personal insult. In a way, though, the political maneuvering done by Lincoln and his allies in the Congress are reminiscent of more recent political struggles begun on moral grounds that were not widely popular. Act 10 in Wisconsin and Obamacare on the national level both reflect elements of the backroom dealing and promises that were proffered to gain needed votes for passage. While we’ve come far as a nation we have not strayed that far from our roots.
I would be remiss if I didn’t expend words on the brilliance of Daniel Day Lewis who again with Lincoln sets the bar impassibly high for other actors. No other could have brought the character to life with such perfection. DDL disappears into Lincoln, with his speech, posture and manner. There was but a moment when I saw a glint of the actor come through the eyes of the 16th President but it was a fleeting moment: Lewis presents the definitive portrayal of the President that will serve as a guide for the future. If he does not win an Oscar for Best Actor then all hope is lost for the Academy.
Lewis is surrounded by a cast that keeps pace with his brilliance, including Sally Field as Mary Todd Lincoln and Joseph Gordon-Levitt as his brash, rebellious son Robert (concluding the Year of JGL).
Some may find the film’s pacing slow, fixating on political maneuvering instead of the battles that are the usual focus of movies set in the period of the Civil War. Too, the film’s focus on a slice of time between Lincoln’s reelection and his assassination (spoiler: he dies in the end) rather than an epic story of his birth, education, and political career. Rather than be Braveheart, fixated on one person and glancing off issues of history, Lincoln is able to go into great detail of one monumental event in American history and the nuance of the time. This narrow focus is why Lincoln is such a brilliant, moving, and important film.
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