a review by Nalini Haynes
Legend of the Guardians is the story of two young owls, Soren and his brother Kludd, who are kidnapped by some owls with dreams of forming a master race and taking over the owl kingdom. Soren escapes and travels to the legendary home of the Guardians to plead for help. The Guardians send a team to investigate Soren’s claims, only one of whom returns. The Guardians go to war to free the owlets.
It seemed there were three sections to this movie. The first section was the kidnapping, imprisonment and escape. Soren and company reach the tree; up until this point Legend of the Guardians is a good family movie although I hoped for more from the makers of Happy Feet. At the tree the narrative meanders into an irrelevant thread, seeking to build an awareness of the culture of the owls for no apparent purpose. Then the owls go to war, with little story line other than to secure victory for the good guys and set up the new villain for the sequel.
The animation was fabulous, second only to Avatar out of the movies I’ve seen this year. The ninja/knight owls were delightful even in combat. I admit to being distracted by David Wenham’s voice, I could just picture him being some kind of over the top wacked out Diver Dan doing that owl voice. Even so, I loved the cast of voices. I admit to being somewhat biased as Essie Davis is an old school friend, but I love hearing Australian voices in a major production. I just wish the makers worked on the screenplay some more.
Legend of the Guardians was billed as a family production, so I was horrified to hear young children in the audience clearly distressed by the war of the owls. That really ruined it for me, however it is a family movie: more suitable for primary school children than pre-school. I suspect the book is better but then, when isn’t that the case?
This review was previously published in Dark Matter issue 2, January 2011, and predated on this website to reflect the original publication date.