Soren, a young barn owl, is kidnapped by owls of St. Aggie's, ostensibly an orphanage, where owlets are brainwashed into becoming soldiers. He and his new friends escape to the island of Ga'Hoole, to assist its noble, wise owls who fight the army being created by the wicked rulers of St. Aggie's. Written by
Terrific family entertainment; yet another CG-animated gem of 2010
Is 2010 the Golden Year of CG-animated films? We already had TWO excellent films, all computer animated and all family-friendly. "How To Train Your Dragon" and especially "Toy Story 3" are stunning in terms of quality and technicalities. Even "Despicable Me" had a heart. I'd add another to that list: "Legend of the Guardians: The Owls of Ga'Hoole".
There will be complaints, like every other movie. Some will call the story unoriginal. Some'll say it's childish because it has talking animals. Some'll say it's stupid for the exact same reasons. I say, so what?! It's a family film, meaning there's something for both kids and those who are kids-at-heart! People go to the movies to be entertained, especially families, and with that this film delivers in spades.
First we have a superb, outstanding cast consisting of Australian/British actors of both the young and highest caliber. There's too many actors to say here, so I'll just say this: the voice acting is terrific. The owls speak in accents (for obvious reasons) making them sound as far and away from being "Hollywood-ized" as possible. There's depth, determination and heart to these characters. The villains of the film are really menacing, a feat considering that almost every character in the film are owls.
Story-wise, it's obviously unoriginal, but it is told very well. This is due to the animation, which is absolutely, spectacularly stunning. There is a great amount of detail in the film, especially on the owls, you can see every feather, every movement they make, every gust of wind that brushes that pass their feathers. Director Zack Snyder (finally using his talents for the kids) puts his signature style to terrific use here, using the "ramping" (frantic slowing down and speeding up repeatedly) technique from his "300" and "Watchmen" for the action sequences, that will make one forget he is watching an animated film, let alone a movie that has talking owls. It's absolutely breathtaking to see it in 2D alone, I watched it in 3D and had a hard time closing my stuck jaw afterwords!
The film looks and feels like it's a lost "Lord of the Rings" film. There's the armor, and the swords (talons), and then there's the big bad (Metal Beak) and the young hero (Soren) who is destined for greatness. It's set in a fantasy, far-away world where 3D is put to terrific use. Not since "Avatar" has 3D been used so efficiently and effectively that makes it an essential part of the story instead of being distracting and gimmicky. Likewise, the cinematography and the orchestral score is great and puts you into the film more. The owls look painstakingly well- rendered and they don't look too-clichéd-cartoony or too-frighteningly- realistic. It's just right. The only gripe I had with the film is the insertion of an Owl-City (because he's practically the most famous artist today with the word "Owl" in his name) song in the middle of the film which is distracting. But apart from that everything else was great.
In short, it's one of the best animated films of the year. It's the perfect movie to bring your family (and maybe friends as well) and enjoy. Have no worries, sit back, and enjoy the ride. And seeing it in 3D is a plus, no matter what anyone else says. The ending also hints at a sequel. Hope that's a possibility as Warner Bros. has a potential new family franchise at their hands. And I hope Snyder returns as well.
Overall value: 74/100
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