You’re sure of one thing whenever director Zack Snyder (300, Wonder Woman, Zack Snyder’s Justice League) is involved in any project, the film is going to have a ton of slow motion and it will be a feast for the eyes. This is someone who has mastered the visual language of cinema, he can’t do visual storytelling very well, but he knows how to make sure each shot in his work is something truly eye-catching. Legend of the Guardians: The Owls of Ga’Hoole is surely a mouthful, this film is just as powerful in its visual potential as its egregiously long title dictates. However, when it comes to storytelling, there’s a lot to be desired.
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The Movie Review
It’s hard to talk about the story in this film because it’s obviously not catered towards children, and yet it’s not going to satisfy any adults either. The film follows the journey of a young owl named Soren. Soren is somewhat of a dreamer, someone who isn’t content with their common life.
He dreams of being a part of the legendary Guardians of Ga’Hoole, protectors and peacekeepers of their kind, heroes, and legends. However, one day Soren and his brother, Kludd, are kidnapped by a group of evil owls, ones that wish to ensue chaos and iron fist order upon their lands. So, now the two younglings must navigate their way back to their home, find the legendary Guardians of Ga’Hoole, and ultimately, confront the villains.
I went into this film knowing absolutely nothing about it, and I must say, the story is quite intriguing at the start. Mainly because the film looks so visually stunning, you immediately want to watch more of it. However, when the story gets going, it feels like it’s been done before.
It’s the hero’s journey, a typical narrative in many animated films. I can assure everyone that the plot itself is promising, but with the way Snyder executes this story, it leaves a lot to the imagination. For example, the first main issue is the film being slow.
The pacing is so slow in fact, that I don’t think children would even want to watch through the entirety of it without getting bored. Another issue is that the story doesn’t go anywhere for the majority of the film, you just watch Soren do one new thing after another, and conquer his fears, but he doesn’t really have a proper achievement or character development until the end. The story feels like a missed opportunity to explore the world of these owls in more depth.
I think the writing was quite formulaic. There were predictable plot twists once in a while and an unsatisfying, tropey resolution in the climax. The characters, including the villains, are one-dimensional and completely failed to interest me in their arcs.
I sense that the writing doesn’t give the actors much to work with, and as a result, their performances fall flat. Despite the fact that the film is filled with A-List actors in the cast. Featuring phenomenal actors such as Jim Sturgess as Soren and Hugo Weaving as the villainous Metalbeak, somehow this incredible casting is just wasted.
Now, for the good parts of the film, the art team did an exceptional job of creating a world that feels both realistic and magical. The intricate details on the characters’ feathers and the varied landscapes they inhabit are truly impressive. The film is usually quite dark and drab in its design, to make sure the darkness of its story is felt in the visuals. However, sometimes the vibrancy of colors pops out, and the use of color becomes incredibly striking.
The animation is smooth and seamless, with little to no hiccups or jank. The filmmakers paid close attention to the movements and behaviors of real owls, which is evident in the grace of the characters as each movement looks natural and realistic.
While the animation and art style are exceptional, the movie’s soundtrack is forgettable. Composer David Hirschfelder’s score is bland and generic, failing to capture the magic and wonder of the world of owls. None of the music stands out, with the soundtrack feeling like an afterthought. The lack of originality and uninspired choices in the music significantly detracted from the viewing experience for me.
The lack of a memorable score can leave a film feeling incomplete, and that is definitely how it happened here.
It’s a bit sad that someone as talented with photography in his films as Zack Snyder still struggles with making sure the story in his films is good. It has been the case with this director for almost all of his films, except for Watchmen.
Legend of the Guardians: The Owls of Ga’Hoole could have been one of the most unique animated films of all time, but due to its extremely lackluster story, it’s just a beautiful-looking film with no heart in its writing, no soul in its characters and no legs for its story to stand on. I’d suggest watching this just for the visuals alone though, the film is simply gorgeous.
- Visually stunning animation that captures the majesty of owls
- The art style is intricately crafted, and ethereally beautiful
- The film's plot is intriguing, at least
- The storytelling is lacking
- The characters are one-dimensional and fail to be engaging
- The voice acting is truly bland, with great actors being wasted
- The pacing of the film is slow and disjointed
- The soundtrack, composed by David Hirschfelder, is forgettable