Requested by: The Animation Commendation
Doing requested reviews have been an interesting experience for me, since I find myself wondering: Why did this person want me to review this particular movie? What does this person want me to say about it? I think in the end, that person is just looking for an honest opinion. I didn’t like Legend of the Guardians: The Owls of Ga’Hoole.
I plan on eventually having a segment on my blog where I talk about my favorite and least favorite people of cinema, and Zach Snyder is one of my least favorite directors. Or perhaps more accurately, on my list of highly overrated directors. Zach Snyder produced movies like 300, Watchmen, and Man of Steel, which are all sealed by his stylistic stamp, but this guy just doesn’t give a crap about story. I’m sorry, he doesn’t.
Why am I talking about Zach Snyder here? Because he is the director of Legend of the Guardians, and he absolutely ruins any sense of drama from the frequent action sequences with his incessant need to slow motion EVERYTHING. It might be a strange place to start a review, but it is THAT distracting. It’s like a writer who uses caps lock WAY too often. Eventually, the advent of upper cased words just loses ALL value. In fact, it would actually become MORE meaningful to look at the words that AREN’T in capital letters. So EVERY time there was slow motion, the movie just LOST me COMPLETELY. And there was a lot of it.
There is this one scene that had much potential, but was completely flattened by the film’s over-reliance on slow motion. It is the scene where our protagonist, Soren, intentionally flies into a thunderstorm under the guidance of his mentor and learns to “fly with his gizzard.”
I mean, just imagine if this was the only time the film used slow motion? Truly stunning from an animation standpoint, and it is where the soundtrack is at its best, reminding me of Han Zimmer’s Gladiator score and perfectly capturing the elegance of Soren’s flight.
There are plenty of moments where the film dazzles with its spectacle, even if none produced the thrills of How to Train Your Dragon’s flight sequences (which did not rely on slow motion).
I don’t know what’s going on in Animal Logic’s studio (Happy Feet), but whatever they are doing, they need to keep it up. The visuals are right up there next to Disney’s and Pixar’s.
Beyond the animation, there is nothing salvageable for the family. The parents should find the silliness of the characters to detract from the epic feel Snyder always tries to imbue his films with, and the story to be extremely thin. Legend of the Guardians is too graphic and action-packed for the really small ones, and tackles some darker elements such as familial betrayal which may confuse or frighten. I found myself passively watching Legend of the Guardians instead of thinking about it or getting involved with it. For me, the characters, magical blue rocks, and slow motion took me out of it, and the world building is not particularly interesting or well done. Hardly any of the jokes worked. Also, the voice actors just didn’t do the job for me. Soren’s voice actor in particular is either really dull or had really dull lines to read. He was a truly boring protagonist, one who was the obvious good to his brother’s evil.
Now, I should mention that this film is adapting a book series called Guardians of Ga’Hoole. Why that wasn’t the title of the movie, I have no idea. Interestingly enough, I actually read this book series in middle school. While I don’t remember much of it, nor could I tell you if I finished all 16 books, I can tell you that the movie squeezed in more plot than it needed to. I mean, it tried to adapt 3 books into 1 movie! Clearly this movie, with the way it ends, had the full intention of becoming a series itself. The fact that a sequel to this movie hasn’t come out yet should indicate the audience’s lack of interest. The animation alone intrigues me, but only under the condition that Snyder gets booted from the director’s seat and replaced by someone who is competent at storytelling.
Final Grade: F (52%)–The plot runs away as the owls of Ga’Hoole find themselves frequently flying at 10% speed.