Here is a story that will most definitely pull at your heart strings, and if it doesn’t, you should probably get a doctor’s appointment. This movie is adorable in so many ways. One of the big questions coming into this film was, “Why Owls?” Well I can’t really say that I can answer that one hundred percent, but I certainly know a little more about owls. Did you know owls cough up “pellets” filled with the bones of the animals they have just ingested? Yeah, that’s in there for you.
The story centers around Soren, a young owlet living in a tree hollow with mom, dad, brother Kludd and baby sister Eglantine. Oh, and their nanny is a snake, makes sense. Soren and his bro decide to sneak out of the hollow one night while Mom and Dad are out hunting and practice their “branching” and end up falling out of the tree to the ground. Just when they are about to be snatched up by a rat the size of a lion, two owls swoop in and save them from becoming dinner. These aren’t their parents though, they are owls from a different tribe and they are now being kidnapped to be turned into slaves for them.
The film really starts to get frightening when they arrive at the owl equivalent of Mordor and are made to stand in line and have orders barked at them. Soren becomes separated from his brother when he speaks up with his new little friend, Gylfie and they are promptly marched off to become “pickers” while his brother stays behind to be trained as a soldier. From this point on, the film takes on a very dark tone and yes, there were children crying in the theater. This film is based on the first three books of the Ga’Hoole series of fifteen. Can you say sequel?
Let’s get to the fun stuff, the 3D. I am announcing without a doubt that this is beautiful, excellent 3D, the way it should look. I have said before that if you are like me and don’t have perfect eyesight and maybe you didn’t get the prime seat in the theater, your 3D experience can seem like you are being left out. The only other film I had seen with 3D technology that really captured the brilliance for every eyeball was Avatar. The visuals here were absolutely stunning from scene to scene. These owls looked so soft I wanted to pet them. There were actually scenes when an owl would fly into the shot and spook me, as if it was coming right for me. I really can’t rave enough about how amazing it looked. This is definitely a film I would recommend seeing in 3D over the traditional 2D.
As far as the story goes, it does get a little dark, but it also has a lot of action. The scenes seem a little cramped together and we go from location to location in an instant. There are also characters arriving out of nowhere with no explanation. It is a children’s story so they won’t mind and you have to keep in mind that this film took place over three books.
I was a little worried about Zack Snyder directing this film as he has never done a children’s story or an animation film per say. He is best known for 300 and Watchmen, which are targeted toward the young male comic-reading crowd. He is very stylistic in his action sequences and those came into play in this film as well, over and over again. It got a little tiring seeing every fight scene and every training scene slowed down and shot in bullet time so we could see single rain droplets hitting the owl’s feathers. However, had these intense scenes not been slowed down, in 3D, these would have all been a blur. So, his style actually makes 3D fun.
Soren and Gylfie end up escaping the evil owls midway in the film and with the help of other owls, make it to Ga’Hoole and enlist the help of the Guardians. Here, Soren and Gylfie train with others and learn to fly and fight. There is a huge final battle scene that I won’t ruin for those who haven’t read the books but there is a fight between brothers which comes off a little weird to me. It all just comes down to two different beliefs and that’s all I want to say.
So, why owls? Well, from what I could gather owls are one animal that we really know nothing about. It’s also easy to make an owl seem harmless and adorable with big round eyes and no neck, while also making some of them very menacing with darker eyes and longer talons. Either way, I fell in love with them and I’m sure you will too, as long as you see it in 3D!
I give Legend of the Guardians 3.5 “could this be Sam Neill’s comeback?” out of 5
by Angela Davis