Movie Review - Legend of the Guardians: The Owls of Ga'Hoole

I grabbed this movie as an on-demand special the other day.  I wasn't really expecting much from it, to be honest.  I knew that it was based on the book series by Kathryn Lasky, and that it encompassed three of the books.  That's about it.

What I got was some absolutely brilliant computer animation, a well-told narrative, and a compelling coming-of-age story combined with a tale of redemption.  While these day, we tend to (rightly) hold all animated films up to the Pixar standard, Guardians does it's job well, and stands on it's own.

The story is kind of a Lord of the Rings-with-owls tale of kingdoms, soldiers, evil despot rulers and mind-controlled armies.  Throw in some Matrix-like "bullet time" combat scenes, and you have it in a nutshell.  The protagonist of the story is Soren, a barn owlet, who is kidnapped (owl-napped) from his home along with his brother and sister and taken to St. Aegolius, where they are assigned various duities; Soren to be a "picker," hunting for metal to make weapons, and his brother Kludd to be a soldier for the "Pure Ones."

Soren eventually escapes and finds the legendary Guardians.  He is taken under the wing (I know, I know) of Ezylyrb, an old screetch-owl, who he discovers is the heroic Lyze of Kiel. What follows is an epic battle for Middle Earth   Zion  the Owl Kingdom, pitting brother against brother, good against evil.

There is very little not to like in this film.  As I said, the animation is brilliant.  The voice cast includes Geoffry Rush, Helen Mirren, Sam Neill, Jim Sturges and (somewhat fittingly) Hugo Weaving. The story is tight and well-told, there is ample humor, and nothing to really disturb even the youngest viewers, although some of the final battle scenes might have them holding on to Mommy or Daddy.

The trailer begins with Hugo Weaving in full Elrond mode.  Love it!


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