Young owl, Soren, has always believed in the ‘Legends of the Ga’Hoole’ – mythical tales of brave owls who fight against the evil ‘Pure Ones’. One day, while he and his brother, Kludd, are trying to fly, they are kidnapped and taken away from their family to St. Aegolius, the homeland of the Pure Ones. Soren is forced into slavery while Kludd becomes a soldier. With a new friend in tow, Soren knows that he must escape from his terrible fate and seek out the Guardians; his only hope of stopping the Pure Ones who have developed a mysterious weapon.
Legend Of The Guardians: The Owls Of Ga’Hoole (2010) – Director: Zack Snyder
Running Length: 97 mins
Starring: Jim Sturgess, Geoffrey Rush, Helen Mirren
Genre: Action/Adventure, Fantasy, Drama
Based on the ‘Guardians Of Ga’Hoole’ series of books by Kathryn Lasky, ‘Legend Of The Guardians: The Owls Of Ga’Hoole’ is an enjoyable and beautifully animated movie which is an unusual mix of gripping drama and fantasy but sadly has very little light relief for a children’s film. This could be the reason for its negative reviews from critics at the time of its theatrical release. We, however feel that this is an underrated, if slightly too mature, family film.
Animal Logic, of ‘Happy Feet’ fame, provide the highly detailed animation which never appears to be too childish and the voice actors, including some of the finest Australian actors of recent years, give plenty of gravitas to the script. The main criticism to give ‘Legend Of The Guardians’ is perhaps that it takes itself too seriously and, with the intensity of the danger, it is difficult to know exactly who this movie has been aimed towards. It is likely to be too scary for young children and older children may not be interested in a story about talking owls. However, this is a story that most people can relate to and it involves strong moralistic messages which many parents would be keen for their children to be aware of. The plot of this movie is actually quite grown-up and therefore it is likely that adults will enjoy it just as much as the children it has been designed for.
IS ‘LEGEND OF THE GUARDIANS: THE OWLS OF GA’HOOLE’ SUITABLE FOR CHILDREN?
There are several rather scary scenes in this movie, especially when the owls are at St Aegolius. The atmosphere is very dark and threatening with the overall tone being bleak with a feeling of hopelessness. When Soren and Kludd are being taken there, the two owls carrying them are very aggressive towards them, but when talking between themselves they are very stupid and quite comedic. Young children may be a little scared and confused by the dialogue which quickly changes between vicious threats and comedy.
When at St Aegolius, many owls guard the outer walls. They wear metal helmets which cover their whole faces and the eyes shine a bright red colour. These have obviously been designed to look intimidating and when any of the owls try to escape or step out of line, these owls screech menacingly at them. One owl, who has become one of the main supporting characters, is attacked and falls from a height. Afterwards, the Queen of St Aegolius confirms that he is dead.
These are perhaps the most intense scenes to highlight, however as the plot is mostly set at either St Aegolius or Ga’Hoole, it is likely that if a child is unhappy with the initial scenes at St Aegolius, they may find the rest of the movie too distressing. There is very little in terms of comedy or light relief and, as the story often goes back to Kludd’s increasingly changing behaviour, which is being encouraged by the Queen, young children will probably find this film too upsetting.
CAN I SEE A CLIP?
‘Legend of the Guardians: The Owls of Ga’Hoole’ has many facets to its storyline and although the characters are owls, their adventures are very relatable. While being a little predictable to older audiences, most of the characters are well-developed and it is interesting to see how they deal with their difficult situations. Unfortunately, as this movie is based on a series of books, it seems that some important parts of the plot have been removed, changed or reduced. For example, one character’s betrayal occurs a little too readily and the character quickly appears to relish in his new-found duties, acting for those he would know have evil intentions. Also, the devastating weapon that the Pure Ones have created is never properly explained.
Due to the scary scenes in this film, we would recommend this movie for children aged 9 and over, however we would also recommend caution for those expecting a light-hearted film about animals. It may be advisable to watch this movie with a child aged between 8 and 10 in case any reassurance is needed.
- Violence: 2/5 (there are a few scenes of violence, particularly towards the end when the Guardians attack the Pure Ones. While there are no graphic deaths, it is obvious when an owl is killed. One is dragged into darkness where bats are seen briefly to rip his feathers, the camera cuts away quickly but it is made clear that he is being killed)
- Emotional Distress: 2/5 (one of the good characters is killed when trying to help Soren. One of the comedy characters is thought to be dead for a few seconds but is quickly seen to be alive)
- Fear Factor: 3/5 (mostly when the characters are at St Aegolius, the owls and bats there are very menacing and intimidating)
- Sexual Content: 0/5
- Bad Language: 0/5
- Dialogue: 1/5 (one of the comedy characters sings a song to relax some of the others before going into a battle. The words of the song talk about being brave even if they are going to their doom and one of the lines says ‘even if our wings are ripped clean off’. This is a comedy song but the imagery of the words may be a little surprising)
- Other notes: Deals with themes of friendship, loyalty, courage, doing what is right, fighting against evil, betrayal and believing in your dreams.
Words by Laura Record