From the Editor

Movie Review Archive

Thank you for checking out my movie review archive. I'm in the process of transitioning to something else, so I will no longer post new reviews to this blog. In the meantime, I will keep these reviews archived; these are from the fall of 2008 to April 2011. Please watch this blog for more info and keep in touch (you can still find me on Facebook and Twitter). Here's to more great movies!

Wes Singleton

North Texas Film Critics Association

Thursday, September 23, 2010

Legend of the Guardians: The Owls of Ga'Hoole - B

Rated PG for some sequences of scary action, 90 minutes

Lush, breathtaking and entertaining "Owls of Ga'Hoole"

I was pleasantly surprised by what I've termed "that Owl movie." That movie, called "Legend of the Guardians" The Owls of Ga'Hoole" has some strikingly beautiful, breathtaking animation, some of the best seen this side of the latest Pixar flick. It helps that it has good source material, stellar production values and a talented voice cast; these "Owls" are suitable for the whole family, though keep in mind the plot is dense and there are some dark, intense scenes that may frighten very young children.

"Ga'Hoole" follows the story of Goren (Jim Sturgess), a young adventurous owl who enjoys hearing stories from his father Noctus (Hugo Weaving). Goren hears stories of the legend of the Guardians of Ga'Hoole, a legendary alliance of owls that are sworn to protect the Kingdom of Ga'Hoole. When Goren and his brother Kludd (Ryan Kwanten) are captured an evil group of owls called The Pure Ones led by Metalbeak (Joel Edgerton) and Nyra (Helen Mirren), they realize the Guardians are more than a legend when they discover that The Pure Ones are planning a battle to defeat the Guardians, a battle that will pit brother against brother when Kludd decides to stay and fight with The Pure Ones.

"Legend of the Guardians: The Owls of Ga'Hoole" is an entertaining action-adventure animated yarn set against the backdrop of an intense battle between the owls. Based on the best-selling children's action fantasy book series "Guardians of Ga'Hoole" by Kathryn Lasky, the movie is specifically based on the first three books in the Lasky's 15-book series. Thus, if this film is a hit,
certainly expect more installments to come.

The film, budgeted at $100 million, produced from the makers of "Happy Feet" and directed by Zack Snyder, the guy who directed "300" and last year's "Watchmen," has some genuinely breathtaking, awe-inspiring moments that you don't much in animation. The CG is lush, detailed and comes together quite well, especially in the aerial scenes. Some young ones may be frightened by some rather dark, intense moments that are peppered throughout the film, though the energetic climax is handled well by Snyder.

Outside of some instense scenes, the biggest distraction with "Owls" is the dense plot that's hard to keep track of and may lose some children along the way. It is voiced very believable by Sturgess, Weaving, Mirren and as the comic relief, Geoffrey Rush as a strange owl and Anthony LaPaglia (yes, of "Without a Trace") as an old codger.

"Legend of the Guardians: The Owls of Ga'Hoole" may be most appreciated in 3-D but it's really just fine in 2-D too and is one of the most entertaining, original animated films seen outside of Pixar or "Shrek" sequels.