Two of the things I like about Zack Snyder: His ability to try and give tribute to the source material he is adapting to the big screen and to ability to give it the respect it deserves (despite some flaws in execution). Zack Snyder has given us a remake of “Dawn of the Dead”, an excellent adaptation of Frank Miller’s “300” and “Watchmen” which had gotten mixed reviews. This time around, Snyder adapts the first three books in Kathryn Lansky’s extensive “Guardians of Ga’Hoole” series and he has in turn, come up with a technical achievement that takes advantage of the potential grandeur and majesty projected of this fantastic world in its visuals; the film simply looks stunning and if any movie would be worth seeing for its visuals alone, “Legend of the Guardians” (in 3D) is one such motion picture.
Soren (voiced by Jim Sturgess) is a young owl who is quite taken by the tales of the “Guardians of Ga’Hoole” (told by his father Noctus voiced by Hugo Weaving) who are the proclaimed mythical protectors of this world as Soren aspires to be a guardian one day. One day after a skirmish, Soren and his brother Kludd (voiced by Ryan Kwanten) is spirited away from their home and is taken to the hall of an evil queen called Nyra (Helen Mirren) who is building a weapon that uses metal flecks and is raising an army of hypnotized slaves for her lord and mate. Soren flees the haven of the “pure ones” with Gylfie (Emily Barclay) while his brother Kludd finds acceptance and honor within their ranks. Soren soon meets up with an unlikely group of misfits led by a warrior-poet called Twilight (Anthony LaPaglia) and a burrowing owl called Digger (David Wenham); they enlist their aid in finding the guardians and to warn them of the threat of the “pure ones”. Soren will soon meet an elderly, scarred warrior called Ezylryb (Geoffrey Rush) who will soon teach him the meaning of honor and true warrior ways of the guardians…
It would be difficult to compress the story of three books into one full-length feature film, but Snyder does his best to bring this world through life. The screenplay by John Orloff and Emil Stern is tasked with juggling a mass of characters and events that takes place in a mythical world supposedly filled with wonder; and they do succeed, as they manage to gain a foothold on its standard tale of good and evil while taking its viewers behind the thoughts, dreams and concerns of owls. The owls are nocturnal creatures and it was nice to have the direction remember to set the events during night time, (actually the story reveals a main concern to owls when they stare at sunrise). The script defines the characters quite nicely and despite some elements that were formulaic, “Legends” is quite an entertaining watch. I loved the way it made the colorful characterization and differences between the owls define who and what they are. The owls reflect varying approaches with words (some have strong accents), dialogue, and mannerisms (the simple gestures say a lot); it aids the viewer in developing an attachment to these nocturnal birds of prey.
Themes of sibling rivalry, honor, nobility and respect, heroes and how our mind perceives them, betrayal, are deeply rooted within the writing. It is also about a young warrior’s rite of passage as his journey proves to be one that will send him into the books of legend. I was pleased with the manner that the film finds some darkness and makes it a significant part of its story; as it somehow ends up feeling “Shakeperean”. I loved the sequence when Soren comes face to face with the definition of a hero; “..heroes aren’t all proud and mighty in armor, they are not after glory; sometimes they look like this…being a hero is doing the right thing“ (something like that), it was a commendation to the script and the right timing by the direction.
We see a scheming lord in the person of Allomere (Sam Neil), a conniving guardian (charged with search and rescue) in cahoots with Metal beak (Joel Edgerton) and the film was never afraid to show some PG-13 violence (there is some mild brutality) and deaths to make the viewer feel the issues at stake. The “Pure Ones” were evil, and they see their evil schemes to be a part of the natural order/grand scheme which makes them without conscience, and this is defined. There is suspense in the film but Snyder manages to keep a balance, as he injects some light-hearted banter compliments of Twilight and Digger. Heck, even the prophet who lived on a mountain can be pretty funny.
“Legends” is a beautiful film. The animation by the studio who gave us "Happy Feet" is fluid, the amount of detail is just so meticulous (notice the feathers and textures) and the set designs pay tribute to this fantastical world. I saw this in IMAX 3D and I have to admit, I was impressed with its 3D Engine. The film was definitely made to display the advances in 3D technology and the imagery was jaw-dropping (this is indeed one of those films where the 3D was an essential part of its cinematic experience). If the film had a flaw in the technical viewpoint, it would be that the soundtrack was a little weak on some scenes (training scenes) and doesn’t exactly match the potential majesty of the film. The main music score was good, but sometimes, Snyder’s execution was uneven, as some scores felt a little out of place. I guess I wanted the film to be more heart-pounding on the battles and instead, the music didn’t match the mood of some of the scenes.
“Legend of the Guardians” is a grand CGI epic that is designed to awe with its visuals that maintains a delicate balance between darkness and family entertainment. The story is a little predictable on some areas but the drama did feel sincere, mostly because of the timing and direction of Snyder. Despite some slow moments in the film and there are some lingering plot holes (I feel a director's cut), it did prove to be quite entertaining and inspired; one can notice the simplicities of its plot devices, but it is an animated epic still worth watching; it gets a highly recommended rating from me.
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*** out of **** There is such a thing as a talented director trying something new, without being pretentious. Some directors can do it; some can't. I think that Zack Snyder, director of modern epics such as "300" and "Watchmen", is one of those people who can. In fact, his latest film, "Legend of the Guardians: The Owls of Ga'Hool" confirms this claim. "Legend of the Guardians" is a flat-out fascinating animated feature that stands out as one of the grittier animated films … more
Before I entered my theater to see Legend of the Guardians, my friend I was seeing it with asked me what I really wanted to see in the film. While he was really in it for story and characters (not that there’s anything wrong with that), I simply told him I was simply seeing the movie to watch a bunch of owls fight each other in the same glorious 3D I saw in the trailer. Thankfully, owls fighting in three dimensions was exactly what I got in one of the best-animated films of the … more
While it was the wolves that were dancing last night in my living room, it's the owls that are flying around this evening! These owls are so cute & so adorable that I won't mind sleeping next to them! Well, I thought the voices and the expressions are so well matched they are unbelievably real! Until they are "rescued" by the "Pure Ones" and made slaves in another kingdom where power is being tossed around as baits. … more
I really didn't have much in the way of expectations for a children's fantasy film directed by Zack Snyder (Dawn of the Dead, 300, Watchmen). Snyder is just about the last person I would think of when it comes to family friendly films, but to my surprise this movie actually entertains. Sure, the story is a bit cliche and it has all the typical fantasy formula moments you've seen dozens of times before, but the direction makes up for these flaws. The voice cast is quite good, though the … more
"Legend of the Guardians: The Owls of Ga'Hoole" is an animated film with the enchanting lure of a fairy tale, the intrigue of a medieval political thriller, the excitement of an action spectacle, and the majesty of a special effects extravaganza. What it lacks is the time needed to fully develop the characters and the story; the film, an amazing technical achievement, not only moves too quickly but also feels incredibly condensed, as if not just one, but several of Kathryn Lasky's … more
I found the film mostly a pretentious yawner, to be honest. Clearly, it didn't quite fit the bill of a kids' film -- I thought the world was way too complex for young'uns -- and it wasn't interesting or compelling enough to serve as an adults' film. Also, while I can appreciate the artistry of bringing CGI owls to life, I found there expressions incredibly limited, making it hard to cement any thematic tone to each of the fictional players. (Maybe this series works better as books than it does as … more
Legend of the Guardians: The Owls of Ga'Hoole is a 2010 English-language 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. Zack Snyder directed the film, with Jim Sturgess, Geoffrey Rush, Ryan Kwanten, Emily Barclay, Anthony LaPaglia, and David Wenham voicing the characters.
Warner Bros. Pictures distributed the film with the Australian companies Village Roadshow Pictures and Animal Logic, the latter having produced visual effects for Happy Feet. Production took place in Australia, and the film was released in RealD 3D and IMAX 3D on September 24, 2010. Preceding the film is a new 3-D cartoon starring Wile E. Coyote and Road Runner titled "Fur of Flying".