Thursday, September 23, 2010

Higgens Network: Legend of the Guardians

There was something very surprising about Legend of the Guardians: The Owls of Ga’Hoole. It is an incredibly beautiful film. This is almost perfect animation. The texture and details of every owl looked glorious especially when they were soaring or approaching a new landscape. It’s the type of movie where you can take any still image and put it up on the wall, framed.

I highly recommend the still image approach because when you add audio to the pictures, the film falls apart. The movie doesn’t make a lot of sense. When you step a mile back, it kinda works. Some owls need to save the world. Or something. This is based off a popular (I assume) series of books called Guardians of Ga’Hoole. Thankfully Hollywood simplified the title to Legend of the Guardians: The Owls of Ga’Hoole

Soren (voiced by Across the Universe’s Jim Sturgess) is an owl that loves to hear about “the Guardians.” These are the epic owls who are warriors who save the world they live in but no one thinks they’re real. Then Soren and his rivaling brother Kludd are kidnapped by some owls that are called “The Pure Ones.” So it seems like the film will be about breaking out of that kingdom to save the day, but that happens almost immediately. The whole film has taken place under a day so far but already Kludd wants to join the Pure Ones, Soren has learned to fly, and apparently the moon can give you a lobotomy if you stare at it.

I could go on with the plot, but it just becomes more confusing. Every scene introduces a new character or a new storyline, which adds a new level of mythology and a new location. Everything is so abrupt, that it’s hard to figure out what is going on with each scene. The plot is constantly redefined and this seems like a fun way to play with structure, but the movie just becomes too cluttered.

Most of the characters are built up to be essential to the plot, even to the point of prophecy, and then quickly disregarded. I’m still not sure how random blue rocks bring owls to the ground and what they’re used for. Watchmen’s Zach Synder’s style surprisingly translates well to children’s animation. His slow motion and epic framing excites the scene, but it doesn’t make up for the poor characterization and bizarre plotting. But…the movie is so beautiful!

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