Legend of the Guardians : The Owls of Ga'Hoole, 2010
Soren, a young barn owl, is kidnapped by owls of St. Aggie's, ostensibly an orphanage, where owlets are brainwashed into becoming soldiers. He and his new friends escape to the island of Ga'Hoole, to assist its noble, wise owls who fight the army being created by the wicked rulers of St. Aggie's. The film is based on the first three books in the series.
Release Date: 24 September 2010
WOW! I mean WOW! This film looks great. I've never seen such explosive animation before. And most of us get to see it in 3D too! Zack Snyder and his creative team really set the tone for future films to come. I love this film just because what I saw for 80 minutes looked so great. And I can't say that I've ever said that before. But originality of excellence is something that needs to be admired and looked up upon.
The only problem I had with the animation was that the movie was too short. It's setup was long and epic and then the finale 3rd act seemed rushed, like they ran out of money and couldn't give us anymore great animation.
And which segues to the story. I guess it's based on a children's story so you can't be too surprised that the plot and characters were as basic as Velvetta cheese. We've seen this story before in many other versions and kind of knew what was going to happen right from the beginning. I guess you could say they were channeling Bible stories with Star Wars and World War 2. But it's a good little story for kids and sends a nice message, albeit a very tough one some would say.
Which gets me to the next point I'm sure many other reviewers will also talk about. Is this movie something children should be seeing? It's very violent at times and it's very scary also. This seems to be one of those strange vortex movies where the basic story is too obvious and tame for adults, but the visualization is too hard and frightening for kids. So who's story and what audience is this film geared for?
And I know it's based on a book of the same name, but isn't the title a little too long and hard to remember? I even forgot the title of the film already and will now call it the OWL movie when I mention it to friends and family. Maybe they should of just called it the Owl Movie! Easy to remember and everyone likes Owls, right?
So Zack's first film was in 2004 when he directed the franchise film DAWN OF THE DEAD. This highly visual movie with a not so large budget showed Hollywood that he can tell a literal story and finish it on time and budget. Doing this film is parallel to James Cameron beginning his directing career making the sequel for Alien. I'm not saying Snyder is going to hit the levels of Cameron, but he's definitely on his way. Remember, until Titanic, Cameron was also known as a high concept action director like Snyder is now.
He then goes on to direct the enormously popular 300. A film that brought new concepts of action sequences while also placing it's setting in a virtual world that looked like the real world but definitely wasn't. Some fanboys would say that he was the first director to truly adapt a comic book movie properly. Based on the graphic novel by Frank Miller, Snyder worked closely with him to attempt to truly move the visual novel to the big screen. The producers saw what he could do with his many music videos, plus his first film and let him loose. The only thing that never gets talked about with this film though is the obvious steroid and human growth hormone use with probably all of the actors in the film. For some reason people are up in arms about baseball players using performance enhancing drugs, but for actors using it this isn't a problem. All for the sake of art!
WATCHMEN was like a Chinese Buffet: I gorged on all of the pickings but was left full and unsatisfied emotionally. And that's how I feel about Snyder's film in general. He's onto some fantastic concepts but sometimes less is more because we always need that time to breath so we can comprehend what just happened and really understand where we are.
But Snyder definitely is a very talented man who is helping out many other creative people because he's doing things that have never been done before. In the last 10 years no other director has had his shots and designs stolen more by others than him. And that's the greatest compliment in the world. And I know that he's just starting out his career and probably has a classic or two in him. He just needs to put it all together. Perhaps he needs to make a simple drama where he can show that he can tell a story without all of the effects and action. Then tie them together like Cameron did with action/effects and romance in Titanic and Avatar.
So go Snyder go. I'm glad you're making films and people should definitely see his Owl film.