Friday, October 1, 2010

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

Putting my disturbing obsession with violent, ninja-like owls aside, Legend of the Guardians: The Owls of Ga'Hoole is a magnificent, awe-inspiring visual punch in the groin, that is unfortunately destined to be misinterpreted by many a critic and casual movie-goers alike. 


Firstly, this gem of a movie suffers from horrible marketing misrepresentation, as the poster creates an expectation that the Guardians can be compared to the b-grade musical kiddy fest known as 'Happy Feet' (as this is the nearest movie that the ignorant American movie-going audience will understand). The only similarity between these two films is that penguins (who are actually mammals) look kinda like birds and owls are an actual species of birds. The guardians does however have much more in common with director Zack Snyder's very dark & sombre 'Watchmen' and the super-violent bloodfest known as '300' (another good example of Snyder's extreme attention to detail and focus on the visual impact of a movie). 


Guardians' plot has been criticized for begin unoriginal and uninteresting, as critics struggle to grasp that this was an intentional choice by Snyder, as the thin, easy-to-follow plot (which isn't horrible by any standard) creates a wonderful spotlight on the movie's true accomplishment - beautiful, intensely detailed visuals: Each individual owl (from the finest detail on each beak and the beautiful patterns on each feather) comes alive as an entirely unique character. Extreme attention to detail like this cements guardians as an amazing visual achievement (far exceeding the previous benchmark set in Pandora's world of giant smurfs with spears).


An experienced, mature and serious voice cast (that includes Sam Neil, Geoffrey Rush and Helen Mirren) imbues Guardians with a unique atmosphere for a fully-animated Hollywood movie, successfully differentiating it from the usual animated fluff that Hollywood resells like expired cotton candy at a rundown carnival. 


The most exciting thing about the Guardians is the fact that it stands as a testament for the inevitable change in general movie taste (i.e. a higher tolerance for fresh interpretations of movie genres) that the mainstream film industry is gradually undergoing - the type of mindset that the anime-loving, forward-thinking citizens of Japan have managed to mold into a fully-realized & thriving stand-alone cultural movement.


Please leave your expectations at the cine door when you go watch the unbelievably realistic Legend of the Guardians: The Owls of Ga'Hoole in 3D - one of the most beautiful, engrossing cinema experiences ever imagined on screen.


Owls with helmets on. Nuff said
Rating: 4.5 Meerkat tails (Must-see)