Shot on location inside the part of Zack Snyder’s brain that’s addled by owl opium, The Legend of the Guardians: The Owls of Ga’Hoole certainly has its share of owls. Nice owls, mean owls, owls who can fly, owls who can’t, and owls who start off not being able to fly but can once the plot requires it to be so.
The cinematic equivalent of the meme “I like turtles,” the movie is director Snyder’s way of saying just how much he loves owls. Well, not just any owls, mind you. The owls of Ga’Hoole. The ones who can talk like Agent Smith from The Matrix, and dive bomb and carry around magical blue things that make other owls freeze. Those owls.
The most exciting drama had little to do with what was going down onscreen – you know the drill: mean Nazi-like owls kidnap nice impressionable owls and preach to them about “purity,” only to have their whole system torn asunder by Coalition Forces – but what was going on in the aisles.
This is the first movie to which I took my 1-year-old, and she was fine watching the movie for the first 70 minutes before deciding to pretend she was an owl herself and hooting while running back and forth across the sides of the theater. It must have just felt like the thing to do. While chasing her likely caused me to miss key moments of visual splendor late in the movie, I’m not going to lie to you. By then I was willing to start running around the theater as well. There’s only so much owl-on-owl violence, owl philosophy and owl arguments you can take before you need to start running around the theater like a crazy person, you know?
From what I saw and listened to of the movie, I was reasonably entertained but a little disappointed by the weird but not-so-weird-it’s-awesome CGI puppet show. Snyder is one of the most exciting, unpredictable filmmakers around, and after watching this one, well, you can still say he’s unpredictable, if not always exciting. Here’s hoping his next effort is something akin to the subversive madness of his Dawn of the Dead remake, the unassailably brilliant 300 or the underappreciated Watchmen.
My 3-year-old sat calmly with my wife throughout, enjoyed the movie, then when he saw a commercial for it the a few days later, asked what movie that was for. He’d completely forgotten about The Legend of the Guardians. It’s best of Snyder and all of us follow suit and pretend this never happened.
Starring the voices of Jim Sturgess and Hugo Weaving. Written by John Orloff and Emil Stern, based on the novels by Kathryn Lasky. Directed by Zack Snyder. Rated PG. 90 minutes.
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