Saturday, April 2, 2011

The Guardian's of Ga'Hoole Movie Review

I watched this film about a week ago, at home on DVD. A friend had enthusiastically told us (me and my younger siblings) that it was good and we would love it. So, we watched it!

And I absolutely LOVED it.

I've come to a theory.
You can get away with a lot of things in animated films that would be the death sentence for any live action film. You can have weird-paced dialogue ("weird" for a live action film), you can introduce characters after characters like the world's going to end tomorrow, and the things that would come across as cheesy in anything live action like exposition dialogue, etc. you can have in an animated film.
And sometimes, it actually works very well, and you don't even realize that those things would be awful, if it were a live action film.

Don't get me wrong: I love this movie. It really got me for some reason.
But I was just fascinated by the fact that this film, if it had been about people and not animals and live action, would have failed epically. 
Needless to say, Ga'Hoole is based on the first three books in a series by the same name (I believe), and cramming three book's worth of content into, what: hour and a half, two hours, is a challenge for anybody. But me, having not read any of the books beforehand, and actually (this is extremely rare for me) not having read up on the film or watched clips/trailers or read a lot of reviews (anything I heard was from friends who had seen it), I felt like they did an amazing job.

Welcome to the world of Aussie-accented owls, adventure, intrigue, and the ability to stretch your wings and take to the sky. 

From the get-go, this film just spews truth and uplifting, amazing things. In the early dialogue, Soren's father is telling all three of his owl-kids (two of them are too old to be called owlets...) stories of the Guardian's of Ga'Hoole, saying how their duty was to "mend the broken, make strong the weak, and vanquish evil."

If I wasn't won over before that, you can bet I was when I heard those words. How can a movie go wrong teaching that?? *big grin*

Soren, the main character, was great. He was in some ways the very stereotypical naive young hero, but as well, he had a level of genuineness about him. He is, in essence, a dreamer. Which I think any of us can identify with- be it daydreaming or dreams of aspiration. He's a dreamer and is in love with tales of heroism, and legends-- sorts of things that are unseen, but he has faith in. 

Seriously, though, I don't know what it is about owls, but having a story completely in a world of animals, and especially a particular kind, gave it the same charm that Redwall has (though I do admit the old TV show has something lacking....). It's a new set of beings to explore and experiment with in the film medium. Very fascinating.

I think the requirement to study the owls and tell them apart by their markings and height, etc., was part of the reason for my extra attention. But it does draw you in, slowly and surely, no matter what level of attention you give to tell apart the birds. Visually, the movie is totally eye candy. It was a pure joy just to watch (and I sorely regret not seeing it in 3D in theaters-- it actually would have been worth it!). And I was thankful that the joy didn't stop with the visual effects. 

The characters, while they may not be three-dimensional, as characters go, they were very fun and diverse. The voice casting was excellent as well. Each character was incredibly unique, even the antagonists were individually interesting.

As far as the story goes, some might call it cheesy, but again, being about animals AND being animated, I felt like it was perfect. It didn't seem rushed and was rather out of the box, and fresh. By that I mean it wasn't a carbon-copy of Star Wars ;)

I love that while Soren wants to be a hero, and though he is the main character, he doesn't become this great big hero who takes care of the bad guys single-handedly, everybody looks up to, he's their only hope, etc. etc. Rather, he goes on this mission to find heroes, not become one, and he's shown what it really means to be one. I thought that was really, really neat. 

I have nothing truly criticizing to say, except that some people may get tired of the slow-mo moments. I know Zack Snyder (the director) is big on slow motion and pulls it off well in some films, but a few sequences in Guardians seemed inappropriate for slow motion. Other parts were pulled off well enough though. 

And need I say the graphics are amazing?


Possible concerns:

There is some violence, though mostly bloodless, and as well, there's this thing called moon-blinking, and it's what happens if an owl falls asleep under the light of the moon, and after they wake up, they;re just not the same. (In the film, the pupils of the moon-blinked owls turn a weird pale color.)

While I didn't find it disturbing, my almost 10-year-old brother did suffer from nightmares the night after we watched it. Just to warn you, in case weird things like that would frighten your children/siblings.

As well, there are these mysterious blue flecks that contain energy and is used to wreck havoc/destroy good owls because evil owls set traps. Also, slightly frightening for younger kids, possibly. Any child who found Sith lightning terrifying wouldn't like it ;)

As well, there is only one use of the h-word, but I think it's used appropriately. Soren is reading the Ga'Hoole chronicles, about all the battles and wars and such, and he says (or something of the same gist) to the owl who recorded everything, "You know, these don't sound anything like the way my dad told them. He made them sound so heroic and great and wonderful, but this sounds like..." and the older owl finishes for him. "Like hell?"
And it's true, about war and all. The word wasn't used as cussing, so I was alright with it. 


And besides that, who couldn't resist a movie with an Owl City song smack-dab in the middle of it? *cheers for Adam Young*

I came away from the film happy, satisfied, inspired, and feeling like I had seen something with serious heart put into it. The film felt very, very genuine and earnest, and it shows. *applause for the filmmakers*

Anyone up for an adventure, a diverse fellowship of owls, discovery, dreams, and a stirring tale of what it means to be a true hero, none of it to be taken too seriously, please go watch The Guardian's of Ga'Hoole.

Anyway, there's my two cents (or more) on The Guardians of Ga'Hoole. 

Did you see it? How did you feel about it?

PS, they left the ending open for a sequel, seeing as there are more books. Anyone up for a sequel? It'll beat Percy Jackson 2, in my opinion.


Joryn said...

Ahhh! I wanna see this so bad! It looks really neat, especially after reading you're review :)

Jake said...

Interesting. I had heard about this, but I'm not sure about it, knowing I'm more of the let's-grab-a-heroic-movie-with-lots-of-blowing-up-and-such person. ;) Sounds good enough to check out, though. :)

Jedi~Chick said...

Okay, first of all, excellent review. You did great. ;)

I LOVE the Guardians of Ga'Hoole. I read all 15 books, and I went to see the movie last year for my birthday. My cousin and I were both expecting different things fromt the film, but that was only because we read all the books. Overall, it was an excellent movie, and the characters were portrayed very well. :) Plus, I love Owl City!!!!!! :D

Amaranthine said...

Great review! Have you watched The Lightining Thief yet? Post a review! :P

The Director said...

Thanks, nods, and okays to all ;)

Jedi~Chick, you're so sweet! Thank you <3 And that's so coll that you've read all the books- I JUST read the first one and really want to find the rest! :D

Amaranthine- nope, haven't seen PJ yet but hope to soon :P

Georgianna Penn said...

I haven't really heard anything on this movie, so I was wondering if it was any good. I read the books several years ago and got into them for awhile, but they were never really a favorite.
I may just have to see if I can get the movie, now that I've actually read something about it.

Jake said...

Just watched it. MUCH better than what I expected, and the battle scenes were amazing. :D I certainly hope there's a sequel. Very, very good, though I almost wish that some parts of the movie had been lengthened for better effect. They did pack a lot of plot into this film, so characters were introduced fast and sometimes I didn't understand what exactly had been said. O_o

The Director said...

Aw, hey, glad you liked it Jake!!! :D

Corey P. said...

Excellent review. I haven't seen this one yet, but I've heard so many (good) things about it that I'm tempted to stick it in the Netflix queue and check it out. :)