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

Directed by Zach Snyder
Written by John Orloff & Emil Stern

Zach Snyder should be known to many, if not by name then by the films he has made. Dawn of the Dead, 300, & Watchmen are all his, all popular and all have a distinct style to them. Knowing this was Snyder, however, came after my initial excitement for the project after seeing the trailer, which ran something like a music video for the 30 Seconds to Mars song “Kings and Queens”. You see, while I appreciate the visual style of Snyder, his storytelling to this point has taken the proverbial backseat. With his foray into the animation game, his modus operandi does not change.

The story of Legend of the Guardians is basic and clichéd. Soren and his brother Kludd are little owlets just trying to become big boys in the forest when, on a nighttime flight practice, they are kidnapped by the big evil Metalbeak and his minions. Metalbeak is building a moon blinked (brainwashed) army in order to take control of the forest. So when Soren meets new friend Gylfie, they make a break for it to find the mythical Owls of Ga’Hoole, the Guardians who can restore peace and save the day. But it won’t be an easy journey, and they will have to grow up quite a bit if they are going to make it and save all the other owls in the forest.

The film is gorgeous, visually. Snyder has a great eye, that much is for sure, and the animation here is among the best I have seen all year. To live within the world of Zach Snyder is to be transported directly where he wants you to be and to see exactly what he wants you to see. The problem with the film, however, becomes these great visuals. Snyder seems to use them as a distraction so that the audience doesn’t notice that they’ve seen this film before many times. In addition, perhaps Snyder hopes you will be concentrated on the visuals that you might not hear the clunky dialogue. Remember that difficult journey? Well what happened to it? All of a sudden they find the Guardians, just about as easily as they escape from the clutched of the much more mature, experienced fliers that are the villains. These sequences just came off as lazy.

Given, this is an animated film and as such the primary audience is children. Thus it may sound like I am being too hard on the film, but honestly, I did enjoy myself. Despite the overly predictable plot and clunky dialogue, Snyder does make a beautiful looking film that has some astounding visuals. In addition, the film is quite dark, which is not commonly seen in animation sadly. The story was a rehash of any fairy tale, but I like fairy tales. I think everyone likes fairy tales.

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