Legend of the Guardians: The Owls of Ga’Hoole didn’t receive a kind reception from critics when it first hit theaters. The story about two child owls who get separated from their family only to engage in a Cain and Abel story did not resonate well in the hearts of adults.
Perhaps that’s because Director Zack Snyder (Superman: Man of Steel, Sucker Punch) and screenwriters John Orloff (Anonymous) and Emil Stern (Tenderness) did not intend for it to be an overly gritty film in the vein of The Lord of the Rings trilogy. Instead, the team set out to service the original novel series of Kathryn Lasky as best they could. They do so to modest success. The soul of the story, a young owl that triumphs over great adversity is still there, which will be enough to hit home with younger audiences. However, some key details were left out which keeps The Owls of Ga’Hoole landlocked and away from soaring to the heights of Guardian legend. Despite the pockets of emotional drought in the story, the Blu-ray release is an absolute win for picture quality and extensive bonus features on owl life.
The story begins with a young Soren (Jim Sturgess) and his brother Kludd (Ryan Kwanten) listening to their parents’ tales of the Guardians of Ga’Hoole. Is it a simple bedtime story to give their children ideals to aspire to or a true story of legend? Soren believes it to be real, while his brother thinks its not. Kludd tends to be the more competitive of the two brothers, always feeling like he’s stuck in Soren’s shadow, especially when it comes to flying. Then the two fall out of their nest, while competing and end up captured by the Pure Ones. Of course, the name Pure Ones is a play on words since they’re actually the villains of the story. The Pure Ones are amassing an army of children under the rule of Metalbeak (Joel Edgerton) and his “wife” Nyra (Helen Mirren). It’s somewhat of a metaphor to some of the stories you hear regarding third world countries, where children are kidnapped to serve in rebel armies.
The brothers are eventually separated as their childish bickering is absorbed into a very grown up civil war. A few of the major conflicts and betrayals in the story seem sidelined. The middle of the story is spent searching for comedy and then Guardian training and blacksmithing. While this is a key part of the book to some extent, this could have been marginalized to focus on the major character relationships and conflicts. Also the use of flecks (blue metallic objects) is somewhat overlooked. You know it’s dangerous, but you don’t really know or understand why.
While the movie doesn’t scream memorable, it is not without it’s warm moments. The visuals pop in HD, and you really get a sense that these owls are real. It’s easy to become lost in the marvelous CG animation and expressions. You can easily forget that you’re watching owls instead of humans. The expressive owls are matched with an excellent roster of voice talents. This doesn’t feel like a film that was stunt casted, but instead a film where Snyder really went out to get the best actors for each role.
The Blu-ray release comes packed with special features. The most surprising and best featurette is a National Geographic / Discovery Channel like featurette with Modern Family star Rico Rodriguez and Digger (David Wenham), one of the wackier owls in the film. This will give viewers an extensive introduction into the world of owls. The Maximum Kid Mode is another excellent Blu-ray plus. This mode gives a play-by-play walkthrough of the entire movie with the actual owls as the narrators. You’ll see footage of the cast and crew in a picture-in-picture box but for the most part Soren and his friends are guiding the discussion. There are two throwaway games included, one where you add clip art to your owls and the other, which is a matching game. A special Looney Tunes episode is included with the Roadrunner and Wile E. Coyote. It’s very short and far from one of the best Looney Tunes segments you’ll ever watch.
Legend of the Guardians: The Owls of Ga’Hoole gets a superb Blu-ray release. It may not be the most memorable movie adaptation, but kids will definitely enjoy this story about a child who rises to save the day.
- Maximum Kid Mode – Explore the World of Ga’Hoole
- Legend of the Guardians: Rise of the Guardians
- To the Sky Music Video by Owl City
- 4 Artwork Galleries
- True Guardians of the Earth with Rico Rodriguez (Modern Family) and Digger
- New Looney Tunes Cartoon: Fur of Flying