Wednesday, November 21, 2012

Guardians of Childhood Fantasy


Do You Believe in the Easter Bunny?

By Skip Sheffield

Did you believe in the Easter Bunny? How about Santa Claus, the Sand Man and the Tooth Fairy?
All these childhood characters and a few more appear in Dreamworks’ CG-animated “Rise of the Guardians.”
I was a pretty skeptical kid. It didn’t help when I saw my dad putting presents under the Christmas tree late at night when I was 5.
I told my mother what I saw, and she said don’t tell your brothers or sister.
I did not. That is pretty much the premise of “Guardians.” Those childhood characters are symbols of hope, imagination and love. They should be preserved, not trashed.
The characters are inspired by William Joyce’s childhood “Guardians of Childhood” series, with a big-name cast voicing the roles.
Jack Frost, of “nipping at your front door” fame, is the main character in this fable. Chris Pine does his voice. Jack is a carefree dude but he would like some respect. Nobody believes in him- nobody this is except the other make-believe characters of Santa Claus, known as North here (Alec Baldwin); the Easter Bunny (Hugh Jackman), the Tooth Fairy (Isla Fisher), and the dreamy Sand Man and Tinkerbelle, who are voiceless.
An evil celestial spirit called Pitch (Jude Law), who is known as the Boogie Man on Earth, is a spoilsport who wants to dash the dreams and hopes of children everywhere.
My expectations were quite low for “Guardians,” but it is more entertaining and action-packed than I expected, under the direction of Peter Ramsey. Perhaps Ramsey is atoning for the darkness of “Fight Club,” which he` also helmed, as well as the “Men in Black” movies.
As one who believes in the power of imagination I am sympathetic with the secular alternate universe this movie creates in glowing 3-D. Anything that promotes “Wonder, hope and dreams” can’t be all bad.

A Good-Looking but Uneccessary "Red Dawn"

On the other hand we have the paranoid fantasies of “Red Dawn,” a remake of the 1994 film that imagined a ground attack on America’s heartland by Soviet Russia.
Since the U.S.S.R. has been fragmented and Russia is now considered an ally by most, it would not do very well to cast them as villain in 2012. Instead we have the handy Red Menace of the North Koreans, who are considered crazy Black Hats by just about everyone.
Director Dan Bradley has cast for good looks in a far-fetched tale that has a group of feisty teenagers saving the entire USA with sheer pluck and improvised weaponry from their outpost in Spokane, Washington. Playing the adult role of U.S. Marine Jed Eckert is firm-jawed Chris Hemsworth. The combat kids include Josh Hutcherson, Josh Peck, Adrianne Palicki and Isabel Lucas. Playing the bad guys are Will Yun Lee as Capt. Lo and Kenneth Choi as Smith.
If you crave action, explosions, gunfire and all manner of cartoon violence, you may be amused by a fascist fantasy that is even less believable today than it was 18 years ago.

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