‘Legend of the Guardians’ soars on powerful wings

“Legend of the Guardians: The Owls of Ga’Hoole” is quite possibly the most visually stunning motion picture of 2010. When combined with 3D effects, and rest assured that this film is at its most spectacular in 3D, it is a mind blowing, beautiful and epic adventure that will leave any viewer breathless.

“Guardians” is based off the first three books in the “Guardians of Ga’Hoole” series by Kathryn Lasky, who published all 15 books from 2003 to 2008.

Soren, played by Jim Sturgess (“The Way Back”), is a young barn owl enchanted by stories of a legendary group of owls, the Guardians, who protect their world. Soren dreams of one day finding and joining them.

His older brother Kludd, played by Ryan Kwanten (“True Blood”), bickers with him over his fantasy, and the two owls end up falling out of their treetop home, only to be carried away by the Pure Ones to St. Aegolius Academy for Orphaned Owls, where they face a frightening future as either soldiers or slaves.

Soren meets Glyfie, (Emily Barclay “Lou”) and the two escape with the help of a guard. They are charged with the mission to find the Guardians and enlist their help.

The acting in this movie is wonderful, and overall relatively powerful. Sturgess does well in making the viewer believe in Soren. He makes us want him to succeed in his journey, to overcome every obstacle and to find and become one of the legendary owls he idolizes so deeply. Barclay is enchanting as Glyfie.

In movies where animators take care of the character’s expressions and body movements, actors need to put more effort and emotion in their lines in order to properly portray a character. In many ways, animated and CGI movies require better voice acting than live action movies, and rarely get it. The actors in “Guardians,” at the very least, make a valid attempt at this higher level of voice acting.

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As far as action is concerned, “Guardians” boasts an epic feel not unlike that of the “Lord of the Rings” trilogy.

Director Zack Snyder (“300” and “Watchmen”) brings a level of intensity to the battle scenes that is quite surprising, and utterly humbles similar attempts in other CGI movies. With such gore-infested and battle oriented movies under his belt, it is nice to see Snyder broaden his directing horizons, but still maintain his seemingly innate gift of producing eye-popping action sequences that get the heart pounding.

As a movie geared towards a younger crowd, with owls as characters, “Guardians” should have its work cut out for it in enticing an older audience and retaining an older audience, but it overcomes that potential hurdle immediately with top notch CGI.

“Guardians” has beautiful, and frighteningly lifelike at times, graphics that pique viewer interest and appreciation in even the adult crowd.

One noteworthy scene is of Soren flying in a storm. Reflections are seen in individual raindrops, feathers are clumpy with moisture and the lightning is incredibly life-like.

Watch the movie in 3D. If you watch only one 3D movie this year, make “Guardians” that movie. The beauty of the scenery is enhanced, the lightness of a feather fall made more vivid and the intensity of battle elevated from epic to heart-pounding when seen in 3D.

While many movies throw 3D in almost as an afterthought, and still others are so dependent of 3D that the movie is worthless and cheesy without it, “Guardians” is merely complimented by it.

In every way possible. The movie is worth seeing in either 2D or 3D, and is a visual masterpiece either way as well, but do your senses a favor and see it in 3D. It’s worth the higher ticket price.

5 Stars