Zack Snyder was not exactly the first guy that comes to my mind when I think about directors for an animated movie, however it makes sense given the style and visual flair he gave to such movies as 300 and Watchmen. That same visual sends suits him well in Legend of the Guardians: The Owls of Ga’Hoole, a dazzling feast for the eyes that rises above it’s formulaic story with some intense set pieces.
Young owl Soren (voice of Jim Sturgess) is a dreamer who thrills at hearing stories of The Guardians, a group of heroic owls that defend against the evil Pure Ones. Soren’s brother Kludd (voice of Ryan Kwanten), on the other hand, does not believe in such silly things and thinks his brother is weak for doing so. One night, Soren and Kludd fall out of their tree and are picked up by the Pure Ones, who have begun collecting young owls to create a class of soldiers and workers to defeat the Guardians. Soren learns of the Pure Ones Plans and with the help of tiny owl Gylfie (voice of Emily Barclay), stages a daring escape to find The Guardians. He tries to get Kludd to join him, but Kludd decides to stay with the new group who finally appreciate all his talents.
The plot of a young hero making his dreams come true is nothing new, but what Guardians lacks in story, it certainly makes up for in action and animation. This is a gorgeous film to look at, and Snyder has certainly given us a world to admire. The owls look magnificent, and almost life-like. The action scenes are also well handled, and kept me at the edge of my seat. Some of the set pieces might be a little scary for younger viewers, but there is definitely enough to appeal to all ages. Guardians also leaves open room for a sequel, which I would more than welcome.
As I mentioned before, the movie is a blur of dazzling visuals, which look great on the Blu-ray. The colors blend very well, and even the sequences that were intended for 3-D come out looking nice and clear. I especially loved the detail between shadows and light, where sunlight or moonlight would peek through the trees onto the characters as it would in real life. I was also able to tell everything that was going on easily, and not once did the picture prevent me from marveling at what I was looking at.
The sound, recorded in DTS HD Master Audio, was also nicely done. The dialogue was crisp, and the action scenes whizzed about, blending both music along with the clashing of talons and other battle noises, which came across nice and clear.
The Blu-ray is loaded with extras that are both fun and educational, which would make it a plus for parents. They include:
“True Guardians of the Earth” (15:09), hosted by Digger (one of the delightful supporting characters of Guardians) and Modern Family’s Rico Rodriguez, which is a mini-nature documentary that clears up some misconceptions about owls, and why it is important that we as humans help protect them. This is a clever short, full of interesting information and is charmingly presented.
“Maximum ‘Kid’ Mode” – Explore the World of Ga’Hoole (1:47:11), a combination of how the film was made and information about Owls. It is a bit lengthy, but a full of intriguing information.
“Armor Up with Soren and Eglantine”- a fun, interactive game that allows you to dress up Soren and Eg in a variety of costumes. You can choose from astronaught to superheroes, and either match them or mix them up. If you match the outfits, a special message appears. It might seem that this one is strictly for the kids, but I actually enjoyed playing it myself.
“Match the Owl Treats” – another interactive game, this one is a memory type challenge that shows you different animals that owls eat, then hides them under leaves for you to match. Using the arrow keys on your remote, you move from leaf to leaf until you match them all. There are three levels, which were pretty quick to finish, but not as quick as you might at first think.
“Legends of the Guardians: Rise of the Guardians” (2:12) – a retelling of the story Soren’s Da tells him about the Guardians, which inspired him to look for the guardians.
“Looney Tunes: Fur of Flying” (3:04) – a new cartoon featuring the legendary Coyote and Roadrunner, this is an amusing new romp, and although I can appreciate the new look, I guess I just miss old-school style Looney Tunes.
Four artwork galleries that allow you to marvel at the films animation from a different aspect.
“To the Sky” (3:40) – a music video by Owl City, which contains a catchy little tune.
The Blu-ray/DVD combo pack also comes with a digital download for your computer or mobile device.
I enjoyed Legend of the Guardians: The Owls of Ga’Hoole immensely. It contained just the right amount of action and visual wonder to have me recommend it for anyone looking to add to their Blu-ray collection, especially since it comes along with extras that are definitely worth the purchase.