Hard to give a hoot for 'Legend of the Guardians: The Owls of Ga' Hoole'

September 24, 2010 

Movies based on books often fail.

Ironically, sometimes words paint better pictures than moving pictures and give you a deeper understanding of characters and events than what a director, actors and screenwriters can put on the screen. This is true of Legend of the Guardians: The Owls of Ga’ Hoole.

-- Local show times, theaters, trailer.

The film is based on the first three books of Kathryn Lasky’s 15 novels. That may be the problem. Squeezing three books into a movie is a bit much. There are plot gaps and the movie seems more a summary than an unveiling.

Two owl siblings fall out of their tree and are snatched up by adult owls and taken to a land where an evil owl has plans to conquer the owl world. One chooses to stay. The other escapes and flees to the legendary isle of Ga’ Hoole where owl guardians are ever ready to defeat their hated nemesis.

Lasky’s books are aimed at children and teens. The movie is quite violent and seems aimed at adults. Some children could be frightened by the violence. Animation and exceptional 3-D aside, adults will be bored by the content.

And please — how about a little humor! A hoot or two couldn’t hurt. Legend of the Guardians is super stuffy. It does, however, have a who’s who cast: Helen Mirren, Geoffrey Rush, Anthony LaPaglia, Sam Neil, Abby Cornish, Jim Sturgess and Hugo Weaving.

An unfinished scene leads to the possibility of a sequel. There are 15 books. Considering this film involves three, and using that formula, that means at least four more movies.

There is a positive. Director Zack Snyder (300, Watchmen) continues to be the most creative animator this side of Pixar. If you do see this one, catch it in 3-D. It’s no doubt terrific in two-dimensions but will boggle the mind in three. At the beginning of the screening, a guy was working his way to his seat and it looked the tail of a flying owl was over the top of him. Snyder’s use of slow motion, multiple dimensions and understanding of color and light is mind-boggling.

It’s the plot that undoes this one.

Mr. Movie rating: 2 1/2 stars

Rated PG for mature themes. It opens Friday, Sept. 24 at Regal’s Columbia Center 8 and at the Fairchild Cinemas 12.

5 stars to 4 1/2 stars: Must see on the big screen
4 stars to 3 1/2 stars: Good film, see it if it's your type of movie.
3 stars to 2 1/2 stars: Wait until it comes out on video.
2 stars to 1 star: Don't bother.
0 stars: Speaks for itself.

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