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Studio: Warner Home Video Release Date: 12/17/2010 Run time: 97 minutes Rating: Pg
Legend of the Guardians: The Owls of Ga'Hoole, 300 director Zack Snyder's debut animated feature, is based on Kathryn Lasky's juvenile novel series Guardians of Ga'Hoole. Soren voice by Jim Sturgess, a young owl, has grown up listening to his father's stories about the Guardians, a legendary band of heroes who fought to keep owldom free. But when he and his jealous older brother Kludd Ryan Kwanten are kidnapped, Soren learns the evil Pure Ones are once again plotting to enslave owlkind. Escaping from their clutches, he and a typically mismatched group of friends set out to find the Guardians, the only owls capable of defeating the Pure Ones. The first feature from the Animal Logic studio since the Oscar-winning Happy Feet, Legend of the Guardians quickly degenerates into an unsatisfying muddle of elements borrowed from Star Wars, The Lord of the Rings, and The Lion King. The storytelling borders on the inept: The Pure Ones are using bats to create some sort of blue electricity that paralyzes owls, but no one ever explains what it is, how it works, or why the bats created it. The first battle between the Pure Ones and Guardians is presented as an ancient myth, yet many of the participants are still alive. Soren and his friends look up at the stars to navigate their way to the Guardians' island, but when the camera pans down to them flying, the sky is the blue of a summer afternoon. The vocal cast includes Helen Mirren, Miriam Margolyes, and Geoffrey Rush, who somehow manage to read hokey lines like "listen to your gizzard" without snickering. Despite Snyder's elaborate use of swooping 3-D pan shots to energize the visuals, the film feels achingly slow at 91 minutes. Too scary for small children and too clichéd for their older siblings and parents, Legend of the Guardians ranks among 2010's most disappointing animated films. Rated PG, but suitable for ages 9 and older: considerable violence and grotesque imagery --Charles Solomon