Owls fighting each other with swords? That could never work.
Except in this film, Legend of the Guardians, it does. The film starts in a lush forest with a family of owls. In the family are the parents and their three children, their youngest Eglantine (DeFaria), and their two sons of the same age, Soren a very adventurous owl who believes in ancient legends of a group of heroic owls called The Guardians, and Kludd (Kwanten), who is very temperamental.
Soren and Kludd’s time with their family is cut short, though, as the two are kidnapped by very powerful owls who are working for the evil Metalbeak (Edgerton) and his assistant Nyra played by Helen Mirren. They soon find out that many other owls are being kidnapped as well to be brainwashed and made into an army for Metalbeak so he can eliminate the Guardians.
Soren realizes that he must escape and while doing this he meets another young owl named Gylfie who he befriends. The two decide to escape, but Kludd chooses to stay behind and join Metalbeak. Sorren and Gylfie decide to find the Guardians for help, and on their way they find two more owls to join their group, Digger (David Wenham) and Twilight (Anthony LaPaglia). They eventually find the guardians and together they must fight back against Metalbeak.
When I first saw the trailer for this film I really couldn’t believe that a movie with owls like this could actually make a good story, yet I was fortunately surprised. The story of this film is one of the few epics that you see in the animated section of cinema. The story is well paced and is very engaging thanks to its depth and scope.
It had a good balance of action, drama, and a bit of humor. Many films for younger kids can be ‘dumbed down,’ yet this one takes balances being a family picture while still taking its audience seriously.
The characters are ones you’d typically see from an epic story, Sorren for example is the protagonist who seems a bit reluctant at times to face his destiny. Despite being familiar, though, they never feel too cliched and for the most part they’re likable.
Moving on to other characters, Digger and Twilight played the more comedic characters, but were never so bumbling that they become an annoyance. Also deserving credit is the villain Metalbeak, who was legitimately intimidating.
The visual effects of this movie were absolutely beautiful as well. All the backgrounds were extremely detailed as well as the characters themselves. The designs for each owl was unique, so there’s never a feeling that a character was recycled. Plus, being directed by Zack Snyder, a good amount of slow motion scenes were added during the action and they really worked in an animated setting.
Overall, this is one of the better animated, family films in the second half of 2010, it’s a very engaging epic movie and I really recommend it. 4 out of 5.