You don’t find many computer animated pictures that are worth their weight coming from someone other than the geniuses at Pixar. While some are fun, like Monsters vs. Aliens or Despicable Me, they don’t necessarily appeal to the adults in the audience the way a Toy Story or Wall-E does. But Legend of the Guardians: The Owls of Ga’Hoole is about as close as anybody has ever come. Featuring an engaging story, beautiful animation, terrific voice acting and 3D that actually works, The Owls of Ga’Hoole is one of the best of the year.
There’s a legend throughout the owl kingdom of a group of owls known as the Guardians who protect and watch over the land, fighting hard to free the owls from the clutches of tyranny. This legend is known far and wide, but nobody loves it as much as Soren (voiced by Jim Sturgess), a dreamer who one day hopes to meet the Guardians. Along with his brother Kludd (voiced by Ryan Kwanten), he is learning how to fly, but after falling out of their tree and landing with a thud on the ground, they are picked up by two stranger owls who carry them off to work for an evil group of owls known as the “Pure Ones.” While Kludd betrays his brother and joins the wicked things, Soren is tasked with finding and picking a mystical pellet that will help them conquer the owl world. However, he escapes and stumbles into the real life Guardians, informing them of the evil plan that threatens the owl kingdom.
There’s a certain epic quality to The Owls of Ga’Hoole that doesn’t come across from the above, admittedly silly sounding synopsis. But writing it off would be foolish. The feeling of awe and wonder I sensed while watching it simply cannot be described. While a war between two owl factions may seem childish, that notion could not be further from the truth. In fact, it’s quite exciting, with action scenes that rival anything that has been put out this year. I sat on the edge of my seat as Soren and the Guardians plunged into battle, sweeping through blazing fires and dodging enemy attacks. I cringed when one of those owls I had become so fond of was struck with a crippling blow. I feared and cheered for them all the way to the end.
All due credit to director Zack Snyder. Along with Dawn of the Dead, 300 and Watchmen, he is yet to make a bad movie, or even a mediocre one. All have been great and his trademark touches, including a healthy dose of slow motion, perfectly accentuate an already exhilarating tale.
And what a tale it is. While the adorable looking owls may deceive some into thinking this is a simple movie, conscious adults will find some interesting thematic issues to ponder over. Themes of war, enslavement and betrayal sweep over this grand story, but this dark and deep material doesn't exclude children. Through those themes, they will learn the values of courage, honor and doing what’s right. There’s a little bit of everything for everyone.
It will work the brain for more astute viewers, but The Owls of Ga’Hoole will also work the emotions and have your heart swelling up with hope. Hope that kindness will rule. Hope for those who stand up and fight. Hope that good will prevail over of evil, no matter the opposition. It’s a lovely film that works on all cylinders. Even the 3D, an overused gimmick at this point, highlights the beauty of the detailed animation and, despite the occasional hiccup, doesn’t suffer from double vision, the most annoying problem with other recent 3D movies. I can’t praise the film enough and no matter your age, I suspect you’ll find something to enjoy.
Legend of the Guardians: The Owls of Ga’Hoole receives 4.5/5