Wednesday, September 29, 2010

Legends of the Guardians: The Owls of Ga’Hoole

Legends of the Guardians: The Owls of Ga’Hoole

Posted By on Wed, Sep 29, 2010 at 12:00 AM

The awkward, overlong title should be your first clue that this ornithologically inspired adventure film is biting off more than it can cram into its animated gizzard. Adapted from three of Aussie novelist Kathryn Lasky's 15 Guardians of Ga'Hoole books, it's clear that director Zach Snyder (300, Watchmen) saw the pre-teen fantasy market as a ripe place for computer-generated stories about owls in battle armor.

The fable is textbook Joseph Campbell, following fledgling barn owl Soren (voiced by Jim Sturgess) as he and his brother Kludd (Ryan Kwanten) are kidnapped by evil owls called the Pure Ones. Held prisoner, they meet Metal Beak (Joel Edgerton) and his wicked queen Nyra (Helen Mirren), who are turning young owlettes into laboring zombies, building a fearless owl army and, with bats as allies, constructing a terrible weapon. Kludd gives over to the dark side, but Soren escapes, and, with a team of feathered friends, seeks out the Guardians of Ga'Hoole — legendary owl warriors who fight against evil. There are unexpected betrayals, thrilling tests of courage and faith, and several Aussie thespians (Geoffrey Rush, Hugo Weaving, Anthony LaPaglia) providing voices for their barely expressive characters.

The production team that brought you Happy Feet helmed this gorgeously computer-animated adventure, producing sensational visuals and dizzying 3-D aerial stunts. It's all so incredibly lush and ripe for Snyder's stop-start slo-mo style action sequences that everything seems bigger, bolder and more thrilling than it actually is. The truth is, bombast overtakes storytelling, as screenwriters John Orloff and Emil Stern awkwardly rush through plot points to cover as much narrative ground as possible. Characters are quickly sketched, relationships are rushed along, and important details are provided in breathless exposition (if provided at all). The ultimate effect is a CliffsNotes-style story that will visually wow adolescents while it glorifies war and might-makes-right politics.

And even though Legends of the Guardians is never boring, its elaborate flight sequences and combat encounters begin to feel repetitive, never finding the joyous inventiveness that Happy Feet brought to its inspired song and dance numbers. 

Snyder and his crew may give Pixar a run for their money when it comes to sumptuously realistic imagery, but they still have a lot to learn about telling a tale that sticks with you after the credits roll.

Jeff Meyers is a film critic for Metro Times. Send comments to


We welcome readers to submit letters regarding articles and content in Detroit Metro Times. Letters should be a minimum of 150 words, refer to content that has appeared on Detroit Metro Times, and must include the writer's full name, address, and phone number for verification purposes. No attachments will be considered. Writers of letters selected for publication will be notified via email. Letters may be edited and shortened for space.

Email us at

Detroit Metro Times works for you, and your support is essential.

Our small but mighty local team works tirelessly to bring you high-quality, uncensored news and cultural coverage of Detroit and beyond.

Unlike many newspapers, ours is free – and we'd like to keep it that way, because we believe, now more than ever, everyone deserves access to accurate, independent coverage of their community.

Whether it's a one-time acknowledgement of this article or an ongoing pledge, your support helps keep Detroit's true free press free.

Read the Digital Print Issue

April 7, 2021

View more issues


Never miss a beat

Sign Up Now

Subscribe now to get the latest news delivered right to your inbox.

Best Things to Do In Detroit

© 2021 Detroit Metro Times - Contact Us

Website powered by Foundation