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Legend of the Guardians: The Owls of Ga'Hoole (2010) - Movie Review

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legend of the guardians
Photo © Warner Bros. All rights reserved.

Bottom line: Legends of the Guardians: The Owls of Ga'Hoole brings Kathryn Lasky's epic story to the big screen with a fast-paced film and contains heavy violence between owls throughout. Scenes of owls being snatched away from their homes may be scary to young children.

MPAA Rating: PG, for some sequences of scary action
Genre: Action/Adventure/Fantasy
Runtime: Approx. 97 minutes
Starring: Emily Barclay, Abbie Cornish, Emilie de Ravin, Ryan Kwanten, Miriam Margolyes, Helen Mirren, Sam Neill, Geoffrey Rush, Jim Sturgess
Release Date: September 24, 2010 (2D/3D/IMAX)/Available now on DVD/Blu-ray

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

Kludd, Soren and Eglantine are three owlet siblings living in the hollow of a grand tree with loving parents and a snake nurse maid named Mrs. P. They, except Kludd, love to hear the stories of a legendary group of noble owls called the Guardians, who protect all owls from evil. One day, a scuffle between Kludd and Soren ends in both of them falling to the ground -- a dangerous place for owlets who have not fully learned to fly. Instead of becoming the next meal for a nearby predator, though, the brothers are snatched up by two large owls and flown far away from their home to the canyons of the St. Aegolius Academy for Orphaned Owls.

At St. Aegolius, the evil "Pure Ones," as they call themselves, are building an army and intend to take over all of the owl kingdoms. Under the direction of the infamous Metalbeak and his mate Nyra, owlets are brought to this awful place to be trained to become soldiers who will help Metalbeak assume power.

With help from a disgruntled Pure One, Soren and his new friend Gylfie learn to fly, and their chance for escape comes. But Kludd, who fancies himself a great soldier for the Pure Ones, refuses to go with them. Soren and Gylfie know what they must do -- find the legendary Guardians of Ga'Hoole. They meet up with two owls named Twilight and Digger, and they also find Mrs. P. Together, the little band of owls and a snake embark on a dangerous journey to the great tree of Ga'Hoole, where they hope they will be able to find the guardians and persuade them to help owlkind.

Soren and Gylfie SnatchedPhoto courtesy of Warner Bros. Pictures

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

Legend of the Guardians: The Owls of Ga'Hoole has a similar problem many other movies based on book series; there is too much happening in too little time to tell a great story. For those who have read the books, the movie provides a stunning overview (albeit with many of the details changed). But, for those who have not read the books, the movie is a whirlwind of inadequately portrayed events and underdeveloped characters. The animation is inspiring, but the storytelling is a bit disappointing.

Kids who are fans of the books will likely enjoy the fantastic animation and seeing some of the characters come to life on the big screen. The movie does contain scenes that may be frightening to younger kids, however. The very idea of young owlets being snatched away from their parents may be disturbing to young children. Also, many scenes of peril and battle scenes occur throughout the movie. The battle scenes are often shown in slow motion to heighten the dramatic effect. Quite a few owls die in the movie, some are maimed, and Soren faces his own brother in a terrible battle. For a more detailed view of possible scary or offensive content, please see the "content overview" below.

Legend of the Guardians: The Owls of Ga'Hoole - Content Overview

*May contain spoilers.

  • Violence (High): All violence in this movie is between owls, and sometimes other creatures like bats and birds. Many of the owls wear metal, knife-like talons and metal face guards. In several scenes, battling owls clash together and rip each other apart, feathers flying, but very little blood is shown. Some owls have been maimed in battle and have scars or are otherwise disfigured. In one scene, captured owls are about to be bled by shrieking bats.
  • Scary Scenes (High): Scenes listed under "violence" may be scary to children. Perilous scenes occur throughout the movie. Young owls are snatched from their homes and taken to the Pure Ones' stronghold in the canyons, where the evil Nyra rules with a sappy sweet voice full of manipulative contempt. Owlets who resist are punished, and moonblinked, which is kind of like being brainwashed. They become hollow followers who can no longer think for themselves. Kids may be especially disturbed when Kludd goes and gets his little sister and brings her to the Pure Ones.
  • Sex/Nudity (None)
  • Drugs and Alcohol (None)
  • Language (Low): The word "hell" is used once.
  • Disrespectful/Imitative Behavior (High): The Pure Ones believe that strength rules and those who want to help others are weak. Kludd, who wants glory, sides with them and desires power and control. They try to punish, manipulate and brainwash any dissenters.
Olws of Ga'HoolePhoto courtesy Warner Bros. Pictures

  • Sad/Unsettling Scenes (High): Eglantine trusts her brother Kludd, who gives her to the Pure Ones to be moonblinked. All of the owlets who are taken from their parents are very sad and miss their families. Kludd tries to kill Soren, even though Soren tries to help him.
  • Movie Topics Kids Might Have Questions About: being moonblinked (brainwashed), kidnapping, death, fighting, legends, strongest survive mentality, weakness, following one's instincts, the reality of war

Legend of the Guardians: The Owls of Ga'Hoole - On Blu-ray

Fans of the breathtaking animation in Legend of the Guardians will not be disappointed - the movie looks just as fabulous on an HDTV, even in 2D (although, the movie is available in 3D for home viewing as well).

The Blu-ray combo pack includes the DVD and digital copy, and a fair amount of bonus features mainly targeted toward kids. Viewers can watch the movie in “Maximum Kid Mode," which includes pop-ups of interesting information about the film and about owls. Also great for kids and parents, is the feature “True Guardians of the Earth,” in which hosts Digger and Rico Rodriguez offer fun facts about real owls and the survival challenges they face.

The disc also includes the funny and nostalgic Looney Tunes short "Fur of Flying," a couple of games for kids, art galleries, the story of the rise of the Guardians, and the music video "To the Sky" by Owl City. I'm rarely a fan of DVD games, and the ones included with this movie are no exception, but other bonus features add fun, interest and value to the Legends of the Guardians Blu-ray purchase.

Disclosure: The studio provided a free screening of this movie for review purposes. For more information, please see our Ethics Policy.
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