Tuesday, December 14, 2010

Legend of the Guardians: The Owls of Ga'Hoole

Based on the fantasy series by Kathryn Lasky, Legend of the Guardians: The Owls of Ga'Hoole is something of a mess. To be fair, it's a beautifully rendered mess, but a mess nonetheless.

The film follows the adventure of Soren (Jim Sturgess), a young owl abducted with his brother (Ryan Kwanten) by owls known as "Pure Ones" led by the evil Metalbeak (Joel Edgerton) and his mate Nyra (Helen Mirren). How exactly these other owls are pure, or what makes them pure, is just one of the scripts many unanswered questions.

Soren escapes, and with his new friends Gylfie (Emily Barclay), Twilight (Anthony LaPaglia) and Digger (David Wenham), travels to find the legendary Guardians to help stop the "Pure Ones" from kidnapping young owls in order to bolster their army and take over the world.

Fans of the novels might do better with this version than I did. What we get here seems to be a Reader's Digest condensed version missing several key plot points and character motivations. The film also makes no attempt to mark the passage of time. How long is Soren held captive? How long does it take for him to reach the Guardians? How long does he stay with them? The film either doesn't know or doesn't think having this information would be helpful to viewers.

Legend of the Guardians: The Owls of Ga'Hoole is available in both DVD and Blu-ray. Fans of the books may be more forgiving but I'd recommend giving this a pass. No amount of short featurettes, or even the Blu-ray's "Maximum Kid Mode," can save this film from itself. If you're in the market for an animated feature, I'd heartily recommend Despicable Me (also hitting stores today) instead.

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