Legend of the Guardians: The Owls of Ga’Hoole

Spending time with my family and old friends over the summer ensures several things, including encountering a) good (new and old) films and b) good (new and old) video games. Most of the films, however, are already at least a year old. Although there are tons of good films coming out this year (and I’m excited to see all of them of course), I won’t have time to review them immediately because I prefer to watch films in the original – and showings of original versions are hard to come by in Germany. But there are other ways to encounter films, luckily, and my main source is my brother, whose 3D-BluRay player tends to provide us with many fascinating film experiences; naturally, I have a lot of catching up to do, with films I’d meant to see for a long time but had never gotten around to actually seeing.

One of such films is Legend of the Guardians: The Owls of Ga’Hoole, which is old news for many because it’s from 2010. I was of course fascinated by the trailers and all, but for some reason I failed to check it out before now. So it was 3D-film time with my siblings again, with this – my brother’s most recent – treasure.

guardiansThe film deals with the adventures of the young owl Soren who, together with his brother Kludd, is separated from his family and taken to the home/fortress of the evil owls, the ‘Pure Ones.’ Soren and his new friend Gylfie protest against the treatment and are sent away to become mindless pickers, while Kludd betrays him and becomes a favoured soldier of the Pure Ones. Soren and Gylfie manage to avoid being brainwashed (i.e. moon-blinked) and have to inform the Guardians of Ga’Hoole, whose legends Soren has always been strongly fascinated with, of the evil plans so that they can be prevented.

Of all the 3D films I’ve seen recently, this one is, visually, probably one of the most beautiful. The painstaking attention to detail was simply mindblowing and made up the realistic design. Even the flight movements etc. had been taken care of properly, and there wasn’t a single moment that I did not sit there and simply stare in awe. The diversity of the owls, too, added a nice touch: not only was every owl of a different kind, but their appearance was completely in touch with the individual characters and their strange, unique personality quirks. And especially in scenes like the storm or the fire, the details were just awe-inspiring.

Speaking of the story and characters, I liked those, too. First of all, it’s nice to have a film again that does not have humans of any kind in there. Second of all – it’s owls! (And everybody knows, owls are amazing.) Most (though not all) characters had clear and different motivations for what they were doing and their attitudes were just as diverse (and sometimes ruffled) as their feathers. It was especially nice that the Band’s members actually were specifically named after the role that fit their character – the leader, the navigator, the tracker and the warrior.

I felt, however, that the whole story was a little rushed once they’d reached the Guardians, although they made an effort giving a good overview of the training there. More interaction and character development there would have been nice. Other than this, though, I thought it was a beautiful story – of course the basic conflict can be found in many other works, but it was adapted really nicely with the owls and their very human character traits. My favourite characters were Metal Beak and Lyze – a strange favourite character combination, of course, given that they are archenemies. I would have liked more screen time of Metal Beak, though, or at least more information than what was given. Lyze is a perfectly reasonable character in the sense that you constantly hear praise of the great hero he is supposed to be – and then you meet him and realise that the war has changed him way more than the legends suggest. His response to everything, his attitude, was so understandable that it made me respect him much more than your next-door “Look at me, I’m awesome and honourable” hero.

Final judgement? I thought the film was incredibly entertaining and interestingly made, and definitely no wasted 97 minutes. Although there were a few things that I criticised, mainly plot-related, it had everything a good film should have: characters with depth, a logically motivated storyline, and quite a few funny scenes that brightened up the overall dark mood. I’m always a little sceptical about 3D films, but in this one (like many others I’ve watched recently) it definitely contributed to the film’s feel and mood, and was used incredibly well. As I said before, probably one of the best 3D films I’ve seen so far. Definitely worth watching!

There are many more reviews to come once I find time and motivation within the next few weeks; I need some time to catch up with all the films I’ve seen these past two months…  I sure hope everyone’s having a great summer as well!

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