Film Review: Legend of the Guardians – The Owls of Ga’Hoole (2010)

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Too mature for children, but too immature for adults, Legend of the Guardians may never find an audience beyond those thirteen years of age or thirteen at heart (guilty as charged.) It’s a dark, computer-animated fantasy based on a series of books by Kathryn Lasky. The story is a bit muddled, but it pulls together for the most part.

Our hero is a young owl named Soren (voiced by Jim Sturgess) who is kidnapped and enslaved by a bunch of mean owls who are working with some nasty bats to gain supremacy over, well, everything, I guess (think feathered Nazis). Soren barely escapes with his life, forced to leave his brother and sister in the hands of the enemy. He seeks out the good and noble Owls of Ga’Hoole for help, and you can probably figure out the rest.

Into the Dark - Film Review: Legend of the Guardians The Owls of Ga'Hoole (2010)

One big happy family: Soren, Marella, Eglantine, Noctus, and Mrs. Plithiver.

Director Zack Snyder (300, Watchmen) brings his trademark action, complete with Snyder slow-mo, into the animated world — culminating in an aerial battle among helmeted owls with razors and knives strapped to their talons. The film is a hard PG. Lots of thunder, fire, and fighting to scare the little kids. Not to mention a few psychological horrors involving abuse and betrayal.

Who is the movie for? Children under twelve may not enjoy the movie’s serious tone, and adults may find the sporadic kiddie pandering off-putting. (The worst offense is a pair of jarring tweeny-bop songs.) It’s a hard film to market. But I can think of a few others, some of which seem to have inspired Owls of Ga’Hoole, that eventually found their audience on cable or home video — The Dark Crystal, The Secret of NIMH, and Watership Down all come to mind.

Into the Dark - Film Review: Legend of the Guardians The Owls of Ga'Hoole (2010)

Enter the bad guys: Nyra and the Pure Ones

Demographics aside, it’s a decent little movie — especially if you love owls or dark fantasy. The superb voice cast includes Helen Mirren, Geoffrey Rush, Sam Neill, and Hugo Weaving. And it’s a gorgeous film to look at. The level of detail and attention to color and lighting gives Pixar a run for their money.

Rating: 3.25/5 ★★★¼☆ 


About Scott_S

Scott studied film and sociology at Indiana University and is currently the video producer for a large publishing company. He is the director of several independent films, including "House of Hope," "Off the Beaten Path," "The Day Joe Left," and "Found." For more about Scott, visit Scott is also one of the principal organizers of the Dark Carnival Film Festival. (

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