Blu-Review: Legend of the Guardians: The Owls of Ga’Hoole

Directed By Zack Snyder
Starring Jim Sturgess, Emily Barclay, Ryan Kwanten, Geoffrey Rush and Helen Mirren



While the promotional material proudly announces Legend of the Guardians: The Owls of Ga’Hoole as being “from the studio that brought you Happy Feet”, it’s perhaps more curiously known as “that talking owl movie from the guy who made Watchmen and 300″. And for the director about to take the helm of the new Superman movie, Legend of the Guardians is as perfect a dry run as you could expect: an epic adventure filled with awe-inspiring spectacle and breathtaking, high-soaring action.

Young, wide-eyed barn owl Soren (Jim Sturgess) has grown up eagerly lapping up the grand tales told by his father, stories of a group of warrior owls known as The Guardians of Ga’Hoole who once triumphed over evil in defeating The Pure Ones – a nazi-like clan of sinister owls. When Soren and his arrogant, foolhardy brother Kludd (Ryan Kwanten) are captured from their peaceful patch of the forest, they discover that The Pure Ones are no myth, and their queen (Helen Mirren) is kidnapping and brainwashing young owlets, using them as slaves to collect magnetic metal flecks and construct a devastating energy weapon. With the fate of owlkind at stake, Soren escapes with elf owl Gylfie (Emily Barclay), rounding up a ragtag crew of motley stragglers to track down the Guardians of Ga’Hoole and lead good to triumph over evil once again.
.
.

(Click image to enlarge)

.
.
The story itself is quintessential fantasy stuff that owes more than a handful of plot to Star Wars; there’s the Jedi-reminiscent history of the Guardians, or Ezylryb the sage old Obi Wan-like mentor, the disfigured, masked villain leading the construction of a Death Star-esque energy weapon, and even a pivotal “Use the force your gizzard” scene. But while the pacey, familiar story and light humour will play much better to the kids than their parents, the copious amount of astonishing visuals and action is mesmerizingly beautiful, stunningly executed stuff for all ages. The movie is crammed with high-flying chase sequences with a real stomach-in-throat rollercoaster sense of speed and gravity, and thrilling, talon-slashing fight scenes that are punctuated with Zack Snyder’s trademark stylistic visuals and speed-ramping action.

It certainly doesn’t hurt that the mostly Australian cast is across-the-board exemplary. Jim Sturgess does a fantastic job as Soren (and manages an impressive Aussie accent, too), Anthony LaPaglia puts in a fun, boozy turn as jovial songster Twilight, and acting luminaries like Helen Mirren, Geoffrey Rush and Sam Neill all deliver predictably superb work (though it’s initially confusing that Hugo Weaving lends his distinctive voice to both Soren’s father and a villainous hench-owl). While the voice work is impeccable, the amazing, near-photo-realistic CG animation instils its owl cast with tonnes of distinct visual personality, character and expression without ever feeling overly cartoony.
.
.

(Click image to enlarge)

.
.
The hurried mythology might be overly familiar to adult viewers, but younger kids will likely find this gateway fantasy-adventure movie immediately absorbing, and the stunning visual spectacle and breathtaking action on display in Legend of the Guardians: The Owls of Ga’Hoole will prove thrilling to kids and parents alike.
.
.

(Click image to enlarge)

.
.



Legend of the Guardians: The Owls of Ga’Hoole gets a Blu-ray disc that you’ll be using to show off your home theatre system in future. This is the kind of film that high-definition was made for, filled with epic spectacle and chock full of eye candy, and Warner Home Video’s Blu-ray delivers the film with an absolutely phenomenal audio-visual transfer.

Along with the astonishing DTS Master Audio track, there are a choice of Dolby Digital 5.1 tracks for Castilian Spanish, Dutch, Flemish, French, German and Italian languages, a 2.0 English audio descriptive service track and subtitles in English, Castilian Spanish, Dutch, Flemish, French, German and Italian. Phew.
.
.

(Click image to enlarge)

.
.
The special features will be of most interest to younger viewers, but there’s a fantastic selection:

  • Maximum Kid Mode – Explore The World of Ga’Hoole
  • This awesome picture-in-picture Maximum Movie Mode feature plays over the movie as Soren and Gylfie introduce a glimpse into the world of the film and a look behind the scenes. Seguing from interviews with the cast to a kid-friendly walkthrough of the various elements of the filmmaking process, entertaining and educational documentary features on real-life owls and their habits, along with trivia quizzes and artwork, there’s a tonne to see and it strikes the perfect balance between informative, educational and entertaining.

  • Legend of the Guardians: Rise of the Guardians
  • A short, pretty amazing alternate opening that sees Noctus (Hugo Weaving) narrating the story of the Guardians’ origins.

  • ‘To The Sky’ Music Video By Owl City
  • The music video for Owl City’s peppy, feel-good powerpop track To The Sky, which is put to distracting use in the film amidst the grand, sweeping fantasy score.

  • True Guardians of the Earth
  • Digger (David Wenham) and Modern Family kid star Rico Rodriguez host a 15 minute feature on owls and the conservationists working to protect them.

.
.

(Click image to enlarge)

.
.

  • Armor Up With Soren and Eglantine
  • A simple picture game that allows kids to dress up the two owls with a variety of costumes, from pirate outfits to superhero costumes.

  • Match The Owl Treats
  • A short ‘match the pairs’ memory game where you have to match up pictures of different owl snacks, from worms to snails, with their identical partner.

  • Looney Tunes: Fur of Flying
  • Wile E. Coyote and Road Runner return in this fun CGI Looney Tunes short.

  • Artwork Galleries



The Blu-ray is also a Triple Play set, which comes with an extra DVD copy of the film on a separate disc which also contains a digital copy of the film.

The Film:

The Blu-ray:




Legend of the Guardians: The Owls of Ga’Hoole is out on Blu-ray and DVD in the UK from today.
A 3D Blu-ray Super Play set is also available.
Click here to order the Blu-ray set from Amazon.co.uk.

(Note: The images above were captured and saved at a reduced quality, and though they give an idea of how the film looks, they aren’t intended to reflect the true quality of the Blu-ray image itself.)