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Legend of the Guardians: The Owls of Ga'Hoole 3D(2010)
Soren, is a young owl enthralled by his father's epic stories of the Guardians of Ga'Hoole, a mythic band of winged warriors who had fought a great battle to save all of owl kind from the evil Pure Ones. While Soren dreams of someday joining his heroes, his older brother, Kludd, scoffs at the notion, and yearns to hunt, fly and steal his father's favor from his younger sibling. But Kludd's jealousy has terrible consequences--causing both owlets to fall from their treetop home and right into the talons of the Pure Ones. Now it is up to Soren to make a daring escape with the help of other brave young owls. Together hey seek the Great Tree, home of the legendary Guardians of Ga'Hoole--Soren's only hope of defeating the Pure Ones and saving the kingdoms
For more about Legend of the Guardians: The Owls of Ga'Hoole 3D and the Legend of the Guardians: The Owls of Ga'Hoole 3D Blu-ray release, see Legend of the Guardians: The Owls of Ga'Hoole 3D Blu-ray Review published by Martin Liebman on December 20, 2010 where this Blu-ray release scored 3.5 out of 5.
Starring: Jim Sturgess, Hugo Weaving, Emily Barclay, David Wenham, Essie Davis, Abbie Cornish
Director: Zack Snyder
» See full cast & crew
Legend of the Guardians: The Owls of Ga'Hoole 3D Blu-ray Review
It looks great, but is there anything else?
Reviewed by Martin Liebman, December 20, 2010
Just because you can't see something doesn't mean it isn't real.
The name Zack Snyder probably conjures up images of his blood-drenched 300, a gritty 2006 picture that features what seems to amount to a bodybuilding contest turned into a sword-and-sandle epic. Perhaps others know him best for his dark take on the world of Superheroes in Watchmen or his carnivorous Zombie movie Dawn of the Dead. Regardless of which film or films one associates with the director, none of them bring to mind fluffy and cuddly CGI creatures, but that's exactly what his latest project, The Legend of the Guardians: The Owls of Ga'Hoole, brings to the table. Truth be told, it brings far more than that, but the movie whittles down to "cute and cuddly" more than it does "violent and bloodthirsty." Nevertheless, Snyder somehow pulls off combining those element in what amounts to a basic story of good versus evil, only here the characters are armor-clad owls (who knew they could work in metallurgy?) rather than human beings. Adapted from the series of novels by Kathryn Lasky, Snyder's first all-digital feature meshes all the properties he's known for -- slow-motion fight choreography, violence, and shadow -- and implements them all into a movie that's marketed at children but made for adults and, ultimately, seems to have no real audience in mind. This is an amazing film from a technical perspective but one that's nevertheless a bit tedious, at first difficult to follow, thematically dull, and generally superfluous.
Young owl siblings Soren (Jim Sturgess), Kludd (Ryan Kwanten), and Eglantine (Adrienne deFaria) live high up in a tree and aren't quite old enough to fly. They spend their time listening to their father's (Hugo Weaving) stories about the legendary Guardians of Ga'Hoole, a group of owls sworn to protect the owl kingdom from danger and evil. One evening, Soren and Kludd are abducted by owls belonging to a separatist group called the Pure Ones. The Pure Ones kidnap young owls and train them to be warriors or pickers, the latter collecting metallic flecks from owl droppings that will be used as part of a grand weapon to ensure the Pure Ones' supremacy. Kludd is chosen to be a soldier while Soren is selected to be a picker. Soren befriends a young owl named Gylfie (Emily Barclay), and together they manage to avoid being "moon blinked" -- or hypnotized -- in hopes of finding a way out. They're caught by an overseer named Grimble (again Weaving) who is secretly planning to revolt against the Pure Ones and its leaders, the disfigured Metalbeak (Joel Edgerton) and his queen Nyra (Helen Mirren). With Grimble's help, Soren and Gylfie manage to escape and set out on a quest to find the great Guardians of Ga'Hoole in hopes of convincing them of the threat the Pure Ones pose over the owl kingdom and saving their fellow captives before it's too late.
The Legend of the Guardians: The Owls of Ga'Hoole might best be described as "difficult," at least at first. There's far too much information tossed at the unsuspecting viewer in the film's opening salvo, though readers of Lasky's series will probably have no problems jumping right in. For those who haven't had the opportunity to dig through the original The Legend of the Guardians series, Zach Snyder's tilt-a-whirl introduction might leave some viewers feeling dizzy as unconventional character names, places, owl history, and owl terminology come at a fast and steady pace. It's not until the action gets going and Soren and Kludd find themselves prisoners of the Pure Ones does the movie settle into a rhythm and allow viewers to catch up on who's who and what's going on. Fortunately, the movie does come together rather nicely. The film's strong voice acting brings a much-needed balance to the characters; the voice cast manages a peripherally playful but ultimately serious tone that's reflective of the movie's style. Snyder's meshing of cute digital owls and the dark and violent story lines and themes that run through the movie require voice actors who are capable of appealing to both the kids who will come out of the movie wanting a plush Soren and adults who want to instead see the movie as more of a violent but basic depiction of good versus evil taken to the visual and thematic extreme. The voice actors play a critical role in developing the characters as far as the script will allow, and that the characters find a voice is just as important to the final product as it is that they find a purpose in the story, all of which helps the audience differentiate them beyond their varied appearances and allegiances.
Structurally and thematically, The Legend of the Guardians: The Owls of Ga'Hoole is nothing more than a straightforward Adventure film that plays with a standard array of themes that revolve around courage and faith, as in believing that both exist and ultimately finding each one inside and using the inner strengths they engender to win the day. As the main character goes through troubled times and is forced to find himself and unearth his destiny before it's his time -- or so he thinks -- he must venture forth into the world and discover great and dangerous things that will shape his character and reaffirm his beliefs before having to confront evil head-on at the end. That's the basic premise behind The Legend of the Guardians: The Owls of Ga'Hoole, and that's also the basic premise of almost any coming-of-age Adventure story out there. Zach Snyder does it well, but he seems to be banking only on the novelty of owls and the strength of the digital animation to sell the movie. There are a few slightly deeper themes to work with, not the least of which is the question as to whether blood is thicker allegiance, but even that's something of a tired motif. Snyder also sets up the film as something of an allegorical look at the human condition and visually reinforces it by painting the film's two dueling sides as being akin to Heaven and Hell. Thematically, the film may be seen as a reflection on humanity as it bundles the notions of slavery and a superior race into the makeup of the Pure Ones, clearly pointing to things man has notably fought over in both the past 150 years and throughout most of recorded history, for that matter. Visually, Snyder paints St. Aegolius as a dark, reddish, industrial, hot, almost skeletal place that oozes evil with every dead tree branch and every absorbing shadow. On the flip side is the Great Ga'Hoole Tree; it's lighter, brighter, friendlier, more inviting, and accented in gold and white colors that give it a clean, regal, Heavenly appearance. Like the rest of the movie, these represent very basic visuals and motifs, the only difference being, again, the owls.
What The Legend of the Guardians: The Owls of Ga'Hoole will ultimately be remembered for is its advanced visuals. Technology has come such a long way in but a few short years; less than a decade ago, movies like Shrek digitally constructed furry creatures who walked and talked and took a basic shape but didn't quite manage to look completely convincing. The owls of The Legend of the Guardians looks so good that they're bound to be mistaken for the real McCoy. It seems that with every new movie a new layer of perfection is achieved; last week it was Despicable Me, a different style of movie to be sure and a completely different look and approach to digital creations, but no less an achievement of modern technology. The Legend of the Guardians manages digital effects that are only a step away from real. One look at the intricate feathering and fur seen on the creatures confirms that man has nearly achieved his goal of creating life outside the womb, not in a test tube but in the computer hard drive. The Legend of the Guardians is nothing short of breathtaking in terms of its seamlessness, and more often than not the movie doesn't even look artificial. Still, it all comes back to the fact that all of the grandeur just can't mask what is an otherwise routine film that banks on its animation and unique character roster to overcome what is a very basic story. Perhaps The Legend of the Guardians works better in Kathryn Lasky's books where the characters have more room to breathe and the story has more room to develop, but as it is, Snyder's picture -- as well-meaning, well-made, and generally entertaining as it may be -- just doesn't quite achieve the kind of soaring heights needed to elevate the picture into the elite category.
Legend of the Guardians: The Owls of Ga'Hoole 3D Blu-ray, Video Quality
It hasn't taken studios very long to get this Blu-ray 3D thing down pat. Warner Brothers full HD 3D Blu-ray release of The Legend of the Guardians: The Owls of Ga'Hoole is a stunner, ranking right up there with the finest transfers amongst the growing but still limited number of such titles on the market. This transfer excels with every shot; the digital creatures and environments are so finely detailed that it's sometimes difficult to remember that this is CGI. The line between real and digital is definitely blurring with every release, but The Legend of the Guardians takes it a step further with practically photorealistic fur that's so finely detailed on the Blu-ray that viewers can literally pause the movie and count feathers and fur. Such striking detail is evident elsewhere, too, whether in the richly-realized environments or on the scuffs and engraving work on Metalbeak's helmet. Colors are excellent, too; though the film has a decidedly dark tone to it that's offset by many splashes of gold, orange, and yellow, the varied brown and orange shades that color many of the owls are impressively seamless, while the appearance of brighter shades -- notably white -- are handled equally well. On that note, black levels excel in every shot; these might be the richest blacks of any 3D release yet, showing absolutely no sign of crush. This is an amazing transfer, made all the better by the disc's highly impressive 3D elements.
As a native 3D film, expectations are high coming in, and The Legend of the Guardians: The Owls of Ga'Hoole doesn't disappoint. The picture dazzles right out of the gate as viewers are flown around the sky and past various titles that hover in space, each one perfectly realized in three dimensions and the viewer feeling like he or she is zipping around the clouds and through the lettering. Depth is fantastic throughout; this is another Blu-ray 3D image that's more concerned with realism than it is eye-catching visual trickery, though a few elements do seem to stick out of the screen and feel like a part of the movie rather than a visual trick, most coming during battle scenes as various sharp weapons seem to protrude from the television. Trees and owls both enjoy real, perceptible shape and volume; whether ground-up shots of a massive tree that give viewers the sense that the trunks are pushing their way out the back of the television or the spacing between owls as they glide through a twilight sky, Warner's Blu-ray 3D transfer places viewers in the middle of every environment be it up in the sky or in the darkest recesses of St. Aegolius. Only some slight-to-occasionally-moderate instances of "ghosting" and a few barely-perceptible instances of banding -- visible primarily as Soren and Gylfie escape from the Pure Ones -- keep this from scoring a perfect rating. The only other issue? The Legend of the Guardians: The Owls of Ga'Hoole begs to be watched on the largest display possible. Even at 50", the 3D HDTV monitor used for playback seemed a bit cramped.
Legend of the Guardians: The Owls of Ga'Hoole 3D Blu-ray, Audio Quality
The Legend of the Guardians: The Owls of Ga'Hoole's DTS-HD MA 5.1 lossless soundtrack is every bit as good, if not better than, the stunning 3D video presentation, making this release one of the finest all-around demo Blu-ray 3D discs on the market. The track is incredibly balanced with music, dialogue, and every sound effect finding that perfect volume at reference level. It offers listeners a high end big and spacious cinematic feel as every element faultlessly flows from the speakers, speakers that seem to vanish as the soundstage becomes the places of battle, the wide-open skies, and the cozy confines of trees. Sound effects zip around the listening area with ease, and imaging is perfect, both key factors in the way the stage melts away in favor of the various environments found throughout the film. Action effects pack quite a punch and bring with them loud but controlled volume as well as tight and invigorating bass, whether as heard during battle scenes or the sensation of a harsh, gusty cold wind that whooshes around the listening area. Lesser effects are handled quite well, too; whether voices that bounce around the soundstage in one scene or general environmental ambience, Warner's lossless soundtrack meshes it all together for a perfect listening experience. Dialogue is exemplary, though there are a few instances where words seem to travel a bit too far away from the center. Still, such is a minor complaint in the grand scheme of things; this is a substantial, almost mind-boggling soundtrack that's among the best out there.
Legend of the Guardians: The Owls of Ga'Hoole 3D Blu-ray, Special Features and Extras
The Legend of the Guardians: The Owls of Ga'Hoole contains a fair assortment of bonus content, all of it available only on the 2D disc with the exception of the 3D version of the Looney Tunes cartoon Fur of Flying (1080p 3D, 3:05) which appears on both discs.
Legend of the Guardians: The Owls of Ga'Hoole 3D Blu-ray, Overall Score and Recommendation
The Legend of the Guardians: The Owls of Ga'Hoole is a beautiful film, but that beauty only carries it so far. This standout effects film is easy to like; it's got a good character roster, exciting action scenes, and a strong sense of adventure, but the problem is that the film seems wholly superfluous. It's only real difference amongst its fellow Adventure films is that it replaces humans with owls, and the movie seems more like a gimmick than an honest attempt to tell a meaningful story. The Legend of the Guardians: The Owls of Ga'Hoole is easy to watch, but it's also surprisingly forgettable as it's devoid of much in the way of novelty and thematic purpose that hasn't already been done hundreds of times before. This isn't a fun movie to criticize. It's gorgeous in every way, but it just feels far too hollow, making it difficult to offer a more glowing review and recommendation. Warner Brothers' Blu-ray 3D release of The Legend of the Guardians: The Owls of Ga'Hoole, however, is easy to champion. The 3D transfer is stunning, the lossless soundtrack even better, and the supplements just fine. Fans of the film should have no qualms about picking this one up, but newcomers might want to rent and screen it first before showing it to the youngest of viewers and making a commitment to buy.
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Legend of the Guardians: The Owls of Ga'Hoole 3D Blu-ray, News and Updates
• Legend of the Guardians Announced on 2D and 3D Blu-ray - November 4, 2010
Warner Home Video has announced the Zach Snyder-directed family adventure movie Legend of the Guardians: The Owls of Ga'Hoole for Blu-ray release on December 17, in 2D and 3D Blu-ray editions. Both releases will include a DVD and Digital Copy of the movie, and ...
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