Friday, September 24, 2010

Legend of the Guadians: The Owls of Ga'Hoole

LEGEND OF THE GUARDIANS: THE OWLS OF GA’HOOLE (Zack Snyder, 2010)

Sneaking off to improve their flying has terrible consequences for brother owlets Soren and Kludd in LEGEND OF THE GUARDIANS: THE OWLS OF GA’HOOLE. The two barn owls, voiced by Jim Sturgess and Ryan Kwanten, tumble to the ground during practice and are abducted.

Along with other owlets, Soren and Kludd are told that their new family is with the Tytos, a parliament of warmongering pure ones led by Metalbeak (Joel Edgerton). Soren resists his captors’ persuasion and is sent off to be a picker while Kludd elects to be a soldier in Metalbeak’s army. Soren and a friend escape and set off in search of the legendary owls of Ga’Hoole, who they hope can save and protect everyone.

LEGEND OF THE GUARDIANS: THE OWLS OF GA’HOOLE director Zack Snyder also made 300, which was virtually a live-action cartoon, and his love of super slo-mo action poses accelerated into full speed clashes is lavished on this CGI-animated film. In other words, LEGEND OF THE GUARDIANS is the kids movie version of 300 featuring owls. It is short on story, which is actually a plus in this instance, and long on that full battle rattle.

The breathtaking aerial assaults convey a palpable sense of velocity and force, especially in 3-D. On-screen violence and its aftermath is suggested more than depicted so that the film keeps a PG rating, although the intensity may be enough to inspire nightmares in younger children.

Unlike Snyder’s humorless 300, LEGEND OF THE GUARDIANS incorporates some lighter comedic moments, such as when the owlets pretend to be hypnotized by the moon to fit in with the other pickers and meet with a mystical spiny anteater who claims to know everything about them. The animation is top notch, with each barb in the feathers rendered in photorealist detail. The repetition fatigue that plagued 300 also weakens LEGEND OF THE GUARDIANS, but otherwise it's an entertaining, action-packed fable.

Grade: B-

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