Over winter break, I saw a couple of movies, which probably couldn't be further removed from one another. (Except both star Hugh Jackman?)
Rise of the Guardians (****1/2)
Santa has tattoos
Sandy is my favorite
I believe again
POSSIBLE SPOILERS AHEAD. Rise of the Guardians is one of the best Christmas movies I've seen in a long while. Great message, awesome characters and a fun twist on the norm. We went to see the movie for our four-year-old niece's birthday, and I'm pretty sure the adults enjoyed it as much (or more) than she did.
The main characters in the film—North, Tooth, Sandy, Bunny and Jack—are awesome alternate versions of tales most of us know well. I particularly love North's tattoos and his helpers (who, spoiler alert, are not really the elves). I want to hug Sandy and ask him to give me sweet dreams of unicorns. Bunny is hilariously rough around the edges. Basically—I love them all. The "moral" of the story is a good one about team work and discovering who you really are. It's not preachy, which children's movies can often get, and it's not totally predictable. Plus, the movie is just plain pretty.
I highly recommend this one, for kids of all ages, and even if it's no longer Christmas.
Les Misérables (***)
The French are sweaty
Jean is Benjamin Button
Too many close-ups
POSSIBLE SPOILERS AHEAD. So—I've never seen any other version of this musical, nor have I ever read the novel it's based on. I went into this movie not really sure of the plot, either. A total Les Misérables noob.
Thankfully, the plot is not too hard to follow, nor was it too much for me that nearly all of the dialogue was in song. The actors all had pretty decent voices, and carried the emotion behind the songs well. You could tell that they were invested in their roles. (Anne Hathaway—get thyself a sandwich, girl.) Something about the way the movie was filmed, however, made it hard for me to get into it. There were so many close-ups of people's faces that made me feel more uncomfortable than anything. (Was it really hot in France in the 1800s?)
Also—the main portion of the student rebellion scenes were shot on a barely re-worked Diagon Alley set. (Not kidding.) I wish I hadn't known that before seeing the film; I might not have realized it while watching and therefore wouldn't have been half-expecting a goblin to pop out of the barricade.
These thoughts are probably sacrilege to all of my theater-loving friends, but perhaps if I'd seen this on stage before going to a very Hollywood produced-version, I might feel more of a connection?