Saturday, September 25, 2010

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

Legend of the Guardians: The Owls of Ga'Hool - **1/2

Directed by: Zack Snyder

Starring: (Voices) Geoffrey Rush, Sam Neill

After first seeing the trailer for this movie roughly six months ago, I had zero interest in seeing it. Later I was especially surprised to know that Zack Snyder chose to direct this movie. Didn't seem like his style, that is, until I saw the slow motion action scenes, then it made sense.

Then once I started to see more about the movie, it became more interesting. The animation looked phenomenal, the story line looked dark, and the 3-D looked like some of the best yet. All this made me take a bit of a harder look at Legend of the Guardians. What I ended up getting was about what I expected, and the fact that I went and saw this movie should mean big time kudos for the movies marketing campaign.

The Legend of the Guardians centers around a young owlet who's favorite pass time includes re-telling (for the umpteenth time) the story of the "guardians." The guardians are a legendary group of owls who kept the owl kingdom safe from all bad things years ago. It has been long enough that none of the owls even know if the legend is true and most don't believe.

We get introduced to our main character Soren as he is trying to learn how to fly from his father. After his father leaves Soren and his brother go out and try to practice flying, which leads to them getting kidnapped by a group of evil owls. These owls, who call themselves the pure one's (which is somewhat reminiscent of a certain sect of 1940's Germany), want to take over the owl kingdom and rule it with an iron fist. Exactly why they want to rule it and what they plan to do to rule is never clearly laid out. All we know is that they kidnap young owlets and brainwash them to being solders and pickers who pick owl pellets trying to find "metal flecks." What for, we're not really certain, but these owls REALLY want these "flecks." Turns out, these flecks somehow power a device that does something to owls' "gizzards" and allows them to be killed by bats.

Soren is able to escape and goes on a quest to find the guardians to foil the plot by the evil owls and make the owl kingdom safe again. All of this leads to multiple inexcusable plot holes and convenient story events. I have little patience for movies in which the plot moves because the plot wants to move, and sacrifices story and character development. I grow tired of comic relief characters who are conveniently brought in at different points and provide a major assistance to the plot moving forward. Very little happens organically in this movie and it makes the movie feel a little disjointed.

Further, the movie seemed as though it couldn't decide if it wanted to be taken seriously as a film with adult subject matter, or if it still wanted to be a kids animated movie. The movie switched back and forth between the very dark and foreboding sequences and the lighthearted comic sequences and montage sequences with crappy pop music in the background. The story line had so much more potential that just wasn't realized because of the filmmakers inability to decide which direction they wanted to go. It's just a shame.

The storyline was good despite the lack of execution, and the 3-D was solid as well. However, the best part of the movie was the unbelievably stellar animation. I will go as far as to say this is the best animation I have ever seen. It was truly remarkable and kept me constantly gawking at the screen. Some of the finest environments and character designs I have ever seen. If only the movie could decide which way it wanted to go. I am not sure why there filmmakers still feel the need to placate the child audience when making animated movies. Pixar gets it, they know that even though it is an animated movie they can still have a plot that is oriented more towards adults and can allow the movie to be taken seriously as an art form (see Up, Toy Story 3). Hopefully, at some point people in America will realize this and start taking the art form seriously, maybe then they can come back and remake this movie cause it could have been so much more. Ultimately, not worth your time unless you want to see the amazing animation.

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