Release Date: September 24, 2010
Studio: Village Roadshow Pictures, Animal Logic
Director: Zack Snyder
Screenwriter: John Orloff, John Collee
Starring: Jim Sturgess, Geoffrey Rush, Emily Barclay, Anthony LaPaglia, David Wenham, Ryan Kwanten, Helen Mirren, Sam Neill, Hugo Weaving
Genre: Adventure, Fantasy
Review Rating: 7.5/10
Plot Summary: Legend of the Guardians: The Owls of Ga'Hoole is a 2010 computer animated fantasy film loosely based on the first three books (The Capture, The Journey, and The Rescue) of the series Guardians of Ga'Hoole by Kathryn Lasky.
Two owl brothers are kidnapped and taken to the land where the evil owl overlord is building a weapon that somehow magically captures owls and renders them helpless. One of the issues with this film is that the weapon is a complete mystery – it needs tiny little pieces of metal to function, but beyond that it’s quite literally a plot device.
While captured, the good brother vows to escape while the jealous brother finally finds the approval he’s been craving all these years – he’s trained as one of the elite warrior class and has no problem going over to the dark side.
Eventually our hero makes the perilous journey to find the fabled Guardians, where he learns to fly and fight like an owl warrior. Will good triumph over evil?
Where Legends of the Guardians really shines, is in the animation. It is simply breathtaking – the level of quality, the movement of the owls, the design of their world – everything is quite beautiful and excruciatingly detailed. The voice actors did a good job, with some engaging and funny characters and accents that add a bit of charm to them. The 3D is used to great effect and was very well done.
Where it isn’t so strong is in the story – which while pretty basic at its core, has a level of complexity in the details that younger kids will probably get lost. On the other hand, kids will probably be so mesmerized with the look of the film that they won’t mind too much. And speaking of younger audience members, for a PG animated movie some of the battle scenes are pretty intense.
The chief pleasures of the movie are visual: The dark forests and imposing seascapes, modeled on rugged terrain in Tasmania, are richly seductive. The 3D camerawork is dynamic as we soar with the owls through woods and across the ocean to the Guardians' island kingdom. The huge technical team has crafted images that often transcend traditional animation to look at once remarkably lifelike and suitably fantastical. The lush musical score by David Hirschfelder enhances the movie's shifting moods of terror and exaltation.
In the end, I’d say this is worth checking out if you’re a fan of fine CGI animation and are curious what an animated, PG-rated movie from Zack Snyder (300, Watchmen) might be like.