Legend of the Guardians: The Owls of Ga’Hoole (2010)

Two fledgling owls get kidnapped by an evil clutch of warrior owls intent on wiping out the clutch of “Guardian” owls.

Rated PG

Directed by Zack Snyder

Story by Cathryne Lasky

Screenwriters John Orloss and Emil Stern

On first look from the previews you might have assumed this was yet another kiddie movie based on the typical good vs. evil with adorable little animals to cute it up.

Or, you might have thought as I did that since the movie featured several endangered breeds of owls that this was another jab at the environment.

I was happy to find out this movie was neither of the above.

The movie starts out with the telling of the legend by an enthusiastic fledgling Barn Owl to his younger sister. The voice to animation is better than I was expecting and carries through the entire movie. Tired of cartonized animals whose mouths move to form the words just like yours would? Not in this movie.

The older brother to the clutch is a skeptic about the legend and dismisses it as ‘only a dream.’ Soon though, after a failed attempt at flying, the brothers find out that the legend is very much alive as they are taken to a secret location to become slaves to the character known as ‘metal beak’.

While one brother manages to escape, the other turns bad and willfully serves at metal beak’s side. The good brother manages to find the guardians and informs them of this growing threat from their old enemy.

This is where the movie was really surprising to me, and probably to you as well. A very violent and visual battle ensues. Trust me, you will be shocked at this.

In the end, all is well and good triumphs over evil.

As far as story lines go, it’s nothing new. I was certainly intrigued as to how it would be carried out with, well, with birds and nothing more. You know, normally it’s the humans and other beasts with the assistance of animals in this type of fantasy movie. There is no mistaking that these are owls as characters. There are no using wings as arms and hands as we have seen in other ‘kid movies’, no feathers turned into fingers to grip objects such as cups to drink out of as if they were humans in a different form.

There’s a big fantasy element to Guardians, and there are some astounding visuals to emphasize this. There are two scenes in particular, one where Soren is learning to fly from his favored mentor during a storm and again when he flies through a burning forest.

To those familiar with the directing style of Jack Snyder, this will be no different from 300 in style. There are amazing close up graphics and time seems to slow for dramatic affect.

For a kid movie, this really has an adult style and the movie does not pull any punches about the misery of war or the loss one can feel as the result. Was that the point of the movie? Perhaps.

Guardians is definitely worth seeing if you were thinking of it. Little children (under 3) probably aren’t the best of audiences for the movie; there are some rather graphic battle scenes along with some distressing situations. No, there’s no blood spattering across the screen but there is strong suggestion of it. Kids are smart enough to figure out what happens when there’s a screech and sharp talons involved off screen.

There are also some on screen beheadings,  but no blood so Guardians retains it’s PG status.

Most kids though have seen worse and played worse in video games, so if they’re old enough to watch say… Return of the Jedi where the Ewoks are killed and not flip out they can handle this without a second thought.

Legend of the Guardians: The Owls of Ga’Hoole on IMDb


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