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Zack Snyder
Emily Barclay, Abbie Cornish, Essie Davis, Adrienne DeFaria, Joel Edgerton, Helen Mirren, Sam Neill, Geoffrey Rush, Jim Sturgess, Hugo Weaving
Writing Credits:
John Orloff, Emil Stern, Kathryn Lasky (novels, "Guardians of Ga'Hoole")

On his way to finding a legend ... he will become one.

Acclaimed filmmaker Zack Snyder makes his animation debut with this fantasy adventure based on the beloved books by Kathryn Lasky. Young owl Soren marvels at his father's epic stories of the Guardians of Ga'Hoole, mythic winged warriors who fought a great battle to save all owl kind from the evil Pure Ones. When he and brother Kludd fall from their treetop home and into the talons of the Pure Ones, it's up to Soren to make a daring escape with the help of other brave owls. Together they seek the Great Tree, home of the Guardians - the only hope of defeating the Pure Ones and saving the owl kingdoms. The stellar voice cast includes Abbie Cornish, Miriam Margolyes, Helen Mirren, Sam Neill, Geoffrey Rush, Jim Sturgess and Hugo Weaving.

Box Office:
$80 million.
Opening Weekend
$16.112 million on 3575 screens.
Domestic Gross
$54.811 million.

Rated PG

Widescreen 2.40:1
English DTS-HD MA 5.1
French Dolby Digital 5.1
Spanish Dolby Digital 5.1
Portuguese Dolby Digital 5.1
Supplements Subtitles:

Runtime: 97 min.
Price: $35.99
Release Date: 12/17/2010

• “Maximum Kid Mode”
• “True Guardians of the Earth” Featurette
• “Legend of the Guardians: Armor Up with Soren and Eglantine” Interactive Costume Creator
• “Match the Owl Treats” Game
• “Legend of the Guardians: Rise of the Guardians” Short
• Looney Tunes Fur of Flying Animated Short
• Artwork Galleries
• Music Video
• Digital Copy/Standard DVD


Panasonic 50" TH-50PZ77U 1080p Plasma Monitor; Sony STR-DG1200 7.1 Channel Receiver; Panasonic DMP-BD60K Blu-Ray Player using HDMI outputs; Michael Green Revolution Cinema 6i Speakers (all five); Kenwood 1050SW 150-watt Subwoofer.


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Legend Of The Guardians: The Owls of Ga'hoole [Blu-Ray] (2010)

Reviewed by Colin Jacobson (December 16, 2010)

For director Zack Snyder’s first feature film, he did Dawn of the Dead, a bloody horror flick. For his next two efforts, he made hard-“R” rated adaptations of famous graphic novels.

So what does Snyder choose for his fourth movie? Why, a “PG”-rated animated flick about owls, of course! It’s a natural career progression, right?

In Legend of the Guardians: The Owls of Ga’Hoole, we meet a young owl named Soren (voiced by Jim Sturgess). While he and his brother Kludd (Ryan Kwanten) practice flying, they fall to the ground and get abducted by a group of warrior owls called “The Pure Ones”.

Despite that honorable-sounding name, The Pure Ones instead attempt to brainwash the kidnapped “orphans” to use for their own nefarious purposes. Along with a tiny elf owl named Gylfie (Emily Barclay), Soren plans to escape, and they get assistance from Grimble (Hugo Weaving), a soldier who does the Pure Ones’ bidding solely to protect his family.

Alas, Queen Nyra (Helen Mirren) finds these secret sessions and tries to stop them – aided by Kludd, who now feels convinced he’s “home” with the clan. Soren and Gylfie manage to escape, and Grimble tells them to seek out the Guardians of Ga’Hoole. Only those legendary warriors can thwart the evil ways of the Pure Ones, so Soren and Gylfie need to find them and save the day.

Will that be enough to keep the average viewer awake? Probably not, as despite all its attempts at adventure and drama, Legend tends to be a fairly drowsy little tale. Even with a brief running time, the story moves slowly, and the stabs at action don’t demonstrate enough zest to really bring matters to life.

It doesn’t help that so many of the characters seem anonymous, partially due to visual design. There’s only so much the animators can do to differentiate the various owls, and most of the tricks don’t work. As the movie progressed, I had to continually remind myself which owl was which. "Oh, that’s Kludd – he’s got the Mohawk feathers!” The situation isn’t horribly befuddling, but let’s just face it: given the movie’s desire for fairly photo-realistic visuals, it doesn’t get many chances to create distinctive-looking characters.

The rehashed story causes problems as well. Legend goes for a definite Lord of the Rings vibe, and it delivers overtones that become more than a little reminiscent of World War II Germany; if the Pure Ones aren’t meant to emulate the Nazis, I’ll eat a year-old strudel.

This creates the potential for drama, but the herky-jerky story doesn’t develop the threads in a satisfying manner. The film feels rather episodic, and it goes off on too many diversions to create a smooth narrative. Characters like Soren follow their inevitable arcs but not much of real interest occurs. I don’t mind films with predictable plots, but they need more life than what we get here.

I find it tough to figure out the intended audience of Legend. While it seems too simple for most adults, it’s also too dark for many kids. Yes, the flick got a “PG”, but I’d call this a “hard PG”; it’s grim and violent enough to likely overwhelm the youngsters who would otherwise delight in the adventures of winged heroes.

On the positive side, Legend boasts a pretty good cast, with two Oscar winners among a few other notables. And the movie looks absolutely amazing. Although I don’t think the photo-real visuals actually serve the story, they sure do provide stunning images. The film constantly demonstrates gorgeous material to view.

Too bad the story and characters fall flat so much of the time. Perhaps the novels on which the movie’s based offer more compelling material, but those potential strengths rarely emerge in the film. Legend never becomes a genuinely bad flick, but it remains rather forgettable.

The Disc Grades: Picture A+/ Audio A/ Bonus B-

Legend of the Guardians: The Owls of Ga’Hoole appears in an aspect ratio of approximately 2.40:1 on this Blu-Ray Disc. At all times, the movie looked amazing.

Sharpness appeared absolutely immaculate. No matter how wide the shots became, they always seemed crisp and perfectly detailed; this meant not the slightest hint of softness ever marred the presentation. I witnessed no examples of jaggies or shimmering, and I also detected no signs of edge enhancement. I couldn’t see any signs of print flaws, as the movie was completely clean.

Though not really natural, the palette of Legend favored a good variety of hues, and they came across exceedingly well on this disc. The colors were consistently rich and vibrant, and they displayed absolutely no flaws whatsoever. . Black levels also appeared dense and deep, and shadow detail was flawless. I’d be hard-pressed to cite a more immaculate presentation than this, as the flick really looked stunning.

While not quite as strong as the picture, the DTS-HD MA 5.1 soundtrack of Legend also seemed terrific. . The mix presented an excellent soundstage. The front three channels were especially active, with solid spatial orientation and smooth panning between speakers. The rear speakers got a nice workout, especially in many of the scenes in which owls flew; they zipped around from front to rear and right to left effectively and convincingly.

The track also featured some nice use of directional dialogue, as speech popped up in appropriate locations throughout the movie. The mix really created a nicely smooth and integrated sense of environment. All the action scenes came to life effectively and filled the spectrum in a dynamic manner.

Audio quality appeared very positive. Dialogue remained distinct and natural and suffered from no signs of edginess or problems related to intelligibility. I thought the score was warm and rich, as the music showed fine dimensionality and dynamics. The effects also came across as concise and accurate. They presented clean highs and some terrific lows; bass response was consistently tight and powerful without any distortion. All in all, the audio of Legend seemed quite impressive.

As we head to the disc’s extras, we start with Maximum Kid Mode. It offers an interactive experience that accompanies the movie. Hosted by owns Soren and Otulissa, we see concept art, rough animation, storyboards, some games and other behind the scenes elements.

We also find comments from writer John Orloff, executive producers Deborah Snyder, Lionel Wigram and Donald De Line, art director Grant Freckelton, director Zack Snyder, associate producer Katrina Peers, previs and lensing director David Scott, editor David Burrows, action coordinator Damon Caro, digital supervisor Ben Gunsberger, character supervisor Damien Gray, animation supervisor Alex Weight, producer Zareh Nalbandian, sound designer Wayne Pashley, and actors Miriam Margolyes, Jim Sturguess, Helen Mirren, Ruan Kwanten, Adrienne Defaria, Geoffrey Rush, Abbie Cornish, Hugo Weaving, Sam Neill and Emily Barclay. The topics cover story, themes and script, cast, characters and performances, art and visual design, facts about owls, animation and effects, staging action scenes, research, sound design, and a few other topics.

Though titled “Maximum Kid Mode”, this feature will offer some appeal to adults – not as much as a standard picture-in-picture commentary would, but viewers shouldn’t write it off as kiddie fluff. We get some decent notes about the film’s creation, and we find a pretty strong collection of storyboards and art; those kinds of elements pop up quite frequently during the film, and they’re interesting to see. The kid orientation makes things simplistic at times, but the track still has its value for older folks.

During True Guardians of the Earth, we get a 15-minute, nine-second featurette hosted by the movie’s character Digger and Modern Family actor Rico Rodriguez. We hear a few remarks from owl sanctuary owner Carolyn Screech, ornithologist Dr. Eric Forsman, and Trowinna Wildlife Park managing director Androo Kelly. They provide basic facts about owls and give us a simple but reasonably informative discussion of the birds.

Called Legend of the Guardians: Armor Up with Soren and Eglantine, we get an “interactive costume creator”. This allows you to put the owls in a variety of outfits like superhero costumes. If you plop them in matching garb, you’ll see a goofy message. This might be a minor diversion for the youngsters, but that’s the best I can say for it.

Next comes a game entitled Match the Owl Treats. In this, we must play a pretty simple memory game. Actually, the last of the three rounds presents more of a challenge, but it’s still pretty basic. It’s meant for kids, and they may enjoy it.

Legend of the Guardians: Rise of the Guardians goes for two minutes, 12 seconds and acts as an alternate introduction to the film. I don’t know if it’d been a good way to start the film or not, as it telegraphs a lot of plot points. However, it may’ve made the murky story more understandable.

For something wackier, we head to the Looney Tunes Fur of Flying animated short. This three-minute, four-second Road Runner short features the usual antics as Wile E. Coyote tries to bag a meal. What connection does it have to Legend? Not much, though I guess it appears because Coyote uses a flying device. It’s a mediocre cartoon.

Under Artwork Galleries, we see four areas. These cover "Soren & Friends” (44 images), "The Locations" (18), "Villains of St. Aegolius" (17) and "The Guardians" (24). We get a nice array of concept art here, though I have to toss in one hardware-related caveat: when I got to the last image of the “Villains” and “Guardians” galleries, my Blu-ray player totally froze and needed to be unplugged before it’d work again. Perhaps this is an isolated sign that my particular machine is on its way to the afterlife, but it’s otherwise worked flawlessly to date, so I suspect this may be some funky glitch related to the disc itself.

The disc also throws in a Music Video. We get a clip for “To the Sky” by the appropriately named Owl City. It mixes a few shots of the singer and movie clips. The tune is a pleasant but ordinary “follow your dreams” effort, and the video lacks much to make it memorable.

A second disc provides both a digital copy of Legend for use on computers or digital portable gadgets as well as a DVD copy of the film. This delivers a barebones package, so don’t expect any extras.

Too dull for adults and too intense for kids, I can’t figure out to whom Legend of the Guardians: The Guardians of Ga’Hoole will appeal. I do know that it doesn’t particularly appeal to me; despite gorgeous visuals and a good cast, the movie lacks the needed spirit and excitement. The Blu-ray comes with stellar picture, excellent audio and a decent smattering of supplements. As a Blu-ray, Legend offers demo material, but as a film, it’s mediocre.

Viewer Film Ratings: 4.25 Stars Number of Votes: 8
0 3:
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