Legend of the Guardian: The Owls of Ga’Hoole

There is something to be said about 300 writer director Zack Snyder’s style and that is unorthodox. Imagine my surprise, when at the end of the Disney animated movie Legend of the Guardian, I find his name in the director credits.

I’ve been meaning to see The Owls of Ga’Hoole for quite sometime now but since I missed it on the cinema, and 2011 was such a great year for movies, I have only gotten a copy of the movie recently. I must admit that I wasn’t expecting much from this film about owls but boy, was I blown away by the quality of this film and was begging for a sequel when it was over.

The Owls of Ga’Hoole is an animated movie based on the books Guardians of Ga’Hoole by Katherine Lasky and features a young barn owl Soren as the film’s hero. Soren, voiced by Jim Sturgess is an idealistic Tyton (barn owl from the forest of Tyto), who lives with his parents Noctus (Hugo Weaving) and Marella; his disturbed older brother Kludd (Ryan Kwanten) and little sister Eglantine. Soren loves hearing stories of heroism told by his father about the Guardians of Ga’Hoole, especially their battles led by Ezylryb (Geoffrey Rush), the Guardians’ general. One day, however, Kludd, who has always been jealous of Soren’s flying abilities pushes him off the nest and they are kidnapped by the army of Pure Ones — Tytons who believe that their race is supreme and whose goal is to eradicate all other races and rule owlkind.

While being sorted in the enemy headquarters, Kludd denies his relationship with Soren after seeing that the younger owl is chosen to be moonblinked (hyponotized) to become a picker of metal flecks from owl droppings (which are fed to a machine which causes excruciating pain on owl gizzards). Luckily, Soren, along with an elf owl named Glyfie are saved by the Pure Ones’ reluctant slave Grimble who ask them to go on a journey to find the Tree and warn the Guardians of the plot of the Pure Ones. While on their way, they are joined by Twilight, a warrior-poet and Digger, Twilight’s best friend. Meanwhile, Kludd chooses to side with Nyra (Helen Mirren) and her husband Metalbeak (Joel Edgerton), the leader of the Pure Ones’ army who lost his beak in a previous battle with Ezylryb.

What really sold this movie for me was the flawless animation and the excellent cinematography. The story is already familiar, especially to children, who are the target demographic of this film but Owls of Ga’Hoole made the adventure cooler, and more real for adults and children alike. The shots were spot on and the texture in the animation complemented the crescendo of the musical score throughout the entire movie. And using Owl City music “To the Sky” (check out music video here) for a movie featuring owls was truly a witty toast to both the movie and the band. Zack Snyder’s fondness for slow motion was a great addition to this movie as it added to the drama of the moment and made scenes come more alive, especially the sequence when Ezylryb was testing Soren’s mettle with the vortex.

Legend of the Guardian is a beautiful movie — truly a breathtaking and and a visual treat. It was entertaining, it was touching and it was a marvelous adventure. It was as epic as Lord of the Rings but with feathered heroes and heroines. It sold in the box office well enough and it deserves a sequel, in my humble opinion. There are two more  books in the series and the ending leaves the door wide open for a Part 2. Calling on Disney studios! Hey, does this mean I have to start a facebook campaign?