Legend Of The Guardians: The Owls of Ga’hoole * 1/2

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Director: Zack Snyder.
Screenplay: John Orloff, Emil Stern.
Voices: Jim Sturgess, Geoffrey Rush, Helen Mirren, Sam Neill, Hugo Weaving, Ryan Kwanten, Joel Edgerton, David Wenham, Anthony LaPaglia, Richard Roxburgh, Abbie Cornish, Miriam Margoyles, Angus Sampson.

After a great directorial debut with the zombie flick “Dawn of the Dead” and two back to back successful comic adaptations in “300” and “Watchmen”, you’d think that Zack Snyder would be a fine choice to adapt this children’s fantasy book by Kathryn Lansky. However, that’s not the case with this one.

Young Soren and Kludd are two owl brothers, fascinated with the history and legend of the ‘Guardians’ (an herioc owl clan that defeated the powers of evil in the past). When playing one day, the two brothers are abducted and taken to the sinister fortress of St Aegolius, where supposedly long-since defeated evil owl overlord Metalbeak is secretly raising an army. Soren takes it upon himself to escape and seek out legendary owl-paladins “the Guardians Of Ga’Hoole”, and save all owlkind.

This has some great animation and 3D effects but ultimately the story is uninteresting and frankly, very dull. After a weak beginning I was certain the film would kick up a gear, considering it had Snyder involved, but it never did. It remained flat, tedious and despite it being a fantasy, it still didn’t suspend disbelief. I often found myself wondering how the Owls made their armour, let alone wear it. Now that’s a bad sign. It’s also bad that your one of only three people in the cinema watching it and another being your four year old, who is crying to leave halfway through when the popcorn has ran out. It suffers with Owls being the main characters for a start. I mean, how many times can you make an owl look different from each other, so the audience don’t get mixed up with them and how many expressions can you force out of them. Attention to detail in the owls is undeniably impressive but I don’t fancy watching 90mins identifying every single feather or reflection of light in their eyes. Yes, it’s nice to look at but more attention should have been paid to the script and less on the fluff. Most of the effort seemingly went into the long and drawn out title of the film, which in terms of consistency, it at least shares the same stupidity as the film itself. There is one scene worthy of attention, with Soren in slow motion flight played out with the haunting vocals of “Dead Can Dance” singer Lisa Gerrard, but apart from that and the impressive visuals it’s a real let down from Snyder and a film that has being seriously overhyped.

A more suitable title would have been “The Bowels of Ga’Hoole” – it’s a real stinker.

Mark Walker

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