Title: Legend of the Guardians: The Owls of Ga’Hoole
Director: Zack Snyder
Stars: Joel Edgerton, Geoffrey Rush, Hugo Weaving, Helen Mirren, Sam Neill, and Jim Sturgess.
Release Date: 2010
The animated film Legend of the Guardians: The Owls of Ga’Hoole follows a pair of barn owl brothers, Soren (Jim Sturgess) and Kludd (Ryan Kwanten), and their younger sister, Eglantine (Adrienne DeFaria). The owl siblings grow up hearing legendary stories of the Guardians of Ga’Hoole vanquishing evil from their father, Noctus (Hugo Weaving). Kludd, the apparent pessimist, doesn’t believe the stories are real and becomes jealous of the attention his believing siblings receive. This fosters aggressive competition between Soren and Kludd, who convinces Soren to pit their branching skills (gliding from one branch to another) against each other. Soren is clearly the better flyer, which agitates Kludd even more. Both owls end up falling to the ground and can’t regain flight. The owls are captured by another pair of owls that take the brothers to St. Aegolius where they are held captive. The owlet brothers, being barn owls, are members of the preferred type of owl in the eyes of the Pure Ones – the owls who rule St. Aegolius. Once arriving at St. Aegolius, Soren befriends a young elf owl, Gylfie (Emily Barclay). When the brothers are told that they can become soldiers for the Pure Ones, Soren declines recognizing their malicious intent, while Kludd, seeing this as an opportunity to best his brother and be more accepted than he was at home, accepts.
The Pure Ones require all non-soldier owls to sort through owl pellets and find the metal flecks contained in them. The flecks are then collected by large brown bats, as the flecks have no effect on them. The flecks appear to have magnetic properties and disorient the owls and impede their ability to fly. While at St. Aegolius, both brothers learn to fly; Kludd learns through his soldier training and Soren learns through one of his captors at St. Aegolius who befriends him. Soren and Gylfie escape from St. Aegolius and search for the Guardians of Ga’Hoole. After a long journey, the young owls find their heroes. The Guardians marshall their forces and head for St. Aegolius to defeat Metal Beak (Joel Edgerton) and his mate, Nyra (Helen Mirren), the leaders of the Pure Ones.
St. Aegolius, where captured owls are taken, not only bears a name reminiscent of an orphanage, but is home to many ‘orphaned’ owlets. As might be expected from an orphanage, the owls are treated harshly and have no hope for release. The conscription and conditioning of the owlets is also similar to the Hitler Youth program in WWII Germany. That Kludd welcomed admission into the Pure Ones seems reflective of many of the preferred class in WWII Germany as well. The sense of belonging to something is a powerful urge, one that Kludd could not resist. The quest of the Pure Ones to build an ultimate weapons is also reminiscent of WWII Germany. The treatment given to sibling rivalry is interesting, though it could have been developed more thoroughly, as it shows the importance of psychological temperament when it comes to raising children and their future outcome.
There is little information given as to why the Pure Ones are in conflict with the Guardians. It seems that they simply are a force of evil that exists for its own sake. Though there is some history between one of the Guardians, Ezylryb (Geoffrey Rush), and Metal Beak, the reason for this conflict is glossed over. As a result, the viewer only knows that the Pure Ones are in conflict with the Guardians, but not why.
The spectacular animation in this film is a sight to behold. Director Zack Snyder has a unique ability to take a vision of a movie and make it reality. This movie holds true to this talent. If you don’t mind a mostly superficial story with a truly amazing presentation, and can get past a bit of animated animal violence – surprising for an apparent children’s movie – then you will enjoy this film.