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Movie Review

Legend of the Guardians: The Owls of Ga'Hoole also known as “Guardians of Ga'Hoole,” “Die Legende der Wächter,” “Ga'Hoole—La leyenda de los guardianes 3D”

MPAA Rating: PG for some sequences of scary action.

Reviewed by: Raphael Vera

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Moviemaking Quality:

Primary Audience:
Kids Family
Family Kids Fantasy Adventure Animation Drama IMAX 3D
1 hr. 30 min.
Year of Release:
USA Release:
September 24, 2010 (wide—3,500+ theaters)
DVD: December 17, 2010
Copyright, Warner Bros. Pictures click photos to ENLARGE Copyright, Warner Bros. Pictures Copyright, Warner Bros. Pictures Copyright, Warner Bros. Pictures Copyright, Warner Bros. Pictures Copyright, Warner Bros. Pictures Copyright, Warner Bros. Pictures Copyright, Warner Bros. Pictures Copyright, Warner Bros. Pictures
Relevant Issues
Copyright, Warner Bros. Pictures

Owls in the Bible


Featuring: Emilie de Ravin (Eglantine—voice), Ryan Kwanten (Kludd—voice), Hugo Weaving (Noctus / Grimble—voice), Geoffrey Rush (Ezylryb—voice), Helen Mirren (Nyra—voice), Rachael Taylor (Gylfie—voice), Sam Neill (Metalbeak—voice), Jim Sturgess (Soren—voice), more »
Director: Zack Snyder—“300,” “Watchmen,” “Dawn of the Dead”
Producer: Animal Logic, Village Roadshow Pictures, Warner Bros. Pictures, more »
Distributor: Warner Bros. Pictures

“From the studio that brought you ‘Happy Feet’”

In the peaceful forest of Tyto two young owls are told the stories of the Guardians of Ga’Hoole, who, like the knights of old, perform noble deeds in service and protection of others. Young Soren is trying to teach his brother Kludd the little what he has learned about “branching” (pre-flying), when Kludd shows, not for the last time, that he will take sibling rivalry to the extreme, when he knocks him down to the forest floor.

Suddenly, they find themselves “owl-knapped” and are whisked off to parts unknown by two large and menacing owls. They soon realize they are not alone, as scores of young owls have also been captured by others in this raiding party and are all forced to “enroll” in the St. Aegolius Academy for Orphaned Owls.

Soren, and his new friend Gylfie, set out to resist the brainwashing and make plans to escape, while Soren’s brother finds himself wanting to join the warrior clan as one of the “pure ones.”

Escape will mean having to learn how to fly, make new friends and allies and embark on a search to hopefully find the only owls that can stop this: the legendary Guardians of Ga’hool.

Objectionable Content

There is no objectionable language used, and the themes of loyalty, family, honor and sacrifice are welcomingly integral to the story. However, parents should be aware that advertising, which for the most part has focused on a myriad of owl characters, most of which are adorable, only hints at the dark themes within. The owlets mass kidnapping, brainwashing by moonlight and enslavement are the stuff of nightmares for the same little children the producers include in their marketing.

The violence is primarily in battles between the so called “pure ones” and the Guardians. Some of the owls are equipped with battle masks and sharpened metal claws which they use to rend at each other. The fights are bloodless, and no actual tearing at each other is seen, done via quick cutaways, but the implications are palatable enough to scare younger children.


Faith: Early on, a little one questions Soren’s belief in the unseen, but very real, Guardians, and he replies, “Just because you can’t see something doesn’t mean it’s not real.” Well put, for as Paul says in one of his letters, “We live by faith, not by sight” (2 Corinthians 5:7). Surely those words were just as important for God’s people then, as they are now.

Sacrifice: The owlets get their chance at freedom because one of the “pure ones” is willing to sacrifice himself for them. As our savior Lord Jesus said, “Greater love has no one than this, that he lay down his life for his friends” (John 15:13).

Gifts: The Guardians speak of every owl as having a different gift that can be used to help others. Among those that have joined them, some will be navigators, trackers, blacksmiths, etc. This harkens back to the apostle Peter’s words when he says:

“Each one should use whatever gift he has received to serve others, faithfully administering God’s grace in its various forms” (1 Peter 4:10).

Regarding the different talents the Guardians recognized, this serves to remind us of how everyone in the church body will similarly serve a different function, as well.

“We have different gifts, according to the grace given us. If a man’s gift is prophesying, let him use it in proportion to his faith. If it is serving, let him serve; if it is teaching, let him teach; if it is encouraging, let him encourage; if it is contributing to the needs of others, let him give generously; if it is leadership, let him govern diligently; if it is showing mercy, let him do it cheerfully” (Romans 12:6-8).

World View: Kludd proves he is nothing like his brother Soren when, in order to ingratiate himself with the evil queen, he even offers to turn his little sister in. The king of the evil owls, Metal-beak, is trying to usurp the Guardians position. His pride and jealousy motivates him, just as it has spurred on countless men through the centuries, for it is written:

“For everything in the world—the cravings of sinful man, the lust of his eyes and the boasting of what he has and does—comes not from the Father but from the world” (1 John 2:16).

Naming Evil: The “pure ones” ironically refers to the villains of the story, but one can’t but recall a similar perverted line of thinking in the past, such as the Nazi’s claim of a pure race. Likewise, it can just as easily be representative of the world’s strategy of calling what is evil good, and vice versa. Nothing new, as the Word of God has warned us throughout history,

“Woes to those who call evil good and good evil, who put darkness for light and light for darkness” (Isaiah 5:20).

Lastly, the purpose of the Guardians was inspiring: “to right all wrongs, to make strong the weak, mend the broken, vanquish the proud, and make powerless those who abuse the frail.” Intentional or not, as a Christian I could not help but think of our own Lord Jesus who fulfills these roles and more. The Word of God calls Jesus, among other things, “King of Kings,” “Prince of Peace,” “Deliverer,” “Wonderful Counselor,” “Servant” and, of course, Messiah (see names of God).

Closing Thoughts

The first three (3) books of the Kathryn Lasky’s series are the source material for this movie, and, as such, the director had a great deal of material to cull from. The end result is a film that feels a bit rushed, from a narrative standpoint, with little opportunity to appreciate the world of the owls, so painstakingly detailed in the books. The film partially makes up for this with a visually striking presentation, made even more impressive in 3D.

“Legend of The Guardians: The Owls of Ga’hool,” while a kids movie at heart, still makes for a thrilling hour and 30 minutes, and most kids, age 10 and up, will probably feel it’s great, however, it’s just too dark and frightening for younger children. This is a shame, because it has a great deal of positive messages which parents can use to discuss with them. But, then again, there are always the books.

Violence: Heavy / Profanity: Minor / Sex/Nudity: None

See list of Relevant Issues—questions-and-answers.

Viewer CommentsSend your comments
Positive—Can you say, amazing? The story, in its 90 minute window, is far too short to truly be an epic (as it claims), but the visuals? Amazing. Since a movie is one part story, one part visuals, “Legend of the Guardians” tips the scales mighty heavy in one direction and certainly puts a dent in the other. A little expansion, a little more development should have been in order, but no. Didn’t happen. Just as well if you wanna include kids. Still a sweet movie.

Okay, so I know what you’re thinking. You’re not buying it. It’s a bunch of owls in this colossal struggle of good vs. evil, and they wear helmets. Perhaps a bit too much for the discerning viewer to digest. “Owls can’t talk and wear bronze helmets!” That’s fair, and it’s definitely the chief complaint of my coworkers. If you’re willing to overlook the implausibility, you’ll have a good time.

A) The movie is PG. That means it’s pretty darn clean (usually is the case).

B) Good vs. evil. Good prevails. Winning formula as old as all get out.

C) Animation, as I’ve already ranted, is… well, it’ll floor you with its lifelikeness. Don’t know if “lifelikeness” is a real word, but I’m gonna pull an Ogden Nash and use it anyways.

D) Megatron, my boy, is in this movie in TWO roles. Not one, but two. 'Cause he’s Mega.
My Ratings: Moral rating: Average / Moviemaking quality: 5
—Mega Tron, age 24 (USA)
Positive—I viewed this film with my 5, 7, and 9 year old kids. Turns out my 7 year old (almost 8 actually) was more upset by the war scenes than my 5 year old. The “moon blinking” was disturbing to all of them but since it is fantasy and NOT humans, I think it was tolerable.

I thought the movie had a number of positive elements as mentioned above—loyalty, honor, and sacrifice for the good of others among other things. The story line was compelling and a visual treat in 3-D. The old Guardian had some great lines which were worth repeating (if I could remember them now :0) about war and honor, etc. … Very, very good movie!!
My Ratings: Moral rating: Excellent! / Moviemaking quality: 5
—Laurie Duffy, age 44 (USA)
Positive—This happened to be a very inspirational movie. It is a movie of good and evil, yet it is also about seen and unseen. To have faith in something that you only hear and yet still believe regardless of what people (owls) may say about you. This movie was one of those.

To trust with all your heart and soul, even though all you heard was a story. Then to come and see what you’ve been hearing to be truth and the realness of that is tested. Yet, you don’t give up and still believe—that is what I got out of this movie.

To fight for the story, to fight for what you believe, to have the faith to continue to press forward. Even when it seems to hard or to far and when people (owls), don’t believe you.

To be a follower of Jesus that’s what it is to me to continue to believe and to store Him in your heart when you can’t see or when people may come and try to steal that away. Yet we continue to press on, to live on faith and not sight!!!…
My Ratings: Moral rating: Good / Moviemaking quality: 5
—Evita, age 25 (USA)
Positive—I just want to point out one line (not word for word), but a warrior owl said that war isn’t about good guys or bad guys, or even being a hero, because history decides that. It’s about doing the right thing over and over, even if it leaves you scarred. That is the only justification for war; there is no other acceptable reason to hurt anyone.
My Ratings: Moral rating: Excellent! / Moviemaking quality: 5
—Peter, age 18 (USA)
Positive—I took my sons, ages 6 and 3, to see “Legend of the Guardians.” I’d read here that it had intense moments, so I waited for it to be shown at dollar rates, in case we needed to get up and leave. We didn’t! The boys both loved the movie, which is surprising considering one of my sons is mildly autistic and usually doesn’t like anything with peril or suspense.

The only hint of negative is that one line describes war as hell, not as a swear word, but as a description of something that one needs to avoid at all costs. I think it was used appropriately and without offense. Good triumphs over evil, and the movie making quality was top-notch. I’d definitely recommend it!
My Ratings: Moral rating: Good / Moviemaking quality: 5
—Mrs. Smith, age 35 (USA)
Neutral—Parents should recognize that the director, Zack Snyder, also directed “300.” There is a great deal of violence in this movie for children, so I wouldn’t recommend parents taking children under 5. Snyder tried to make a kids movie, but ultimately failed as some parts of the film could give children nightmares. But this movie isn’t really interesting enough for adults, it lacks the substance of movies such as “Up” and “How to Train Your Dragon” which were enjoyable for the whole family.

The fact that they combined three of the books to make this movie resulted in a hurried plot. Characters are thrown in, and sometimes it’s hard to keep up with names and affiliation of the owls. Unless you’re BIG of visual aesthetics, I would skip this one. The animation is incredible, but the storyline is dull.
My Ratings: Moral rating: Better than Average / Moviemaking quality: 3
—Audrey, age 19 (USA)
Neutral—There were some biblical values in this movie, as stated above in the Review, but one thing I felt was missing was that in the movie there was a porcupine who was some type of “witch-doctor/prophet” who had claimed to “know all” and who foretells things. This is not a biblical value, and the bible talks about God knowing all, Not false prophets, psychics, or spiritual guides. This is one thing I didn’t like about the movie because it encourages those who watch it that it is okay to go to a psychic if we want to know the answer to something. This is false and we should go to God with our prayers and concerns. For he is the God of all knowledge and he will answer our prayers if we ask.

Matthew 7:15-20—“Watch out for false prophets. They come to you in sheep’s clothing, but inwardly they are ferocious wolves. By their fruit you will recognize them. Do people pick grapes from thornbushes, or figs from thistles? Likewise every good tree bears good fruit, but a bad tree bears bad fruit. 18A good tree cannot bear bad fruit, and a bad tree cannot bear good fruit. Every tree that does not bear good fruit is cut down and thrown into the fire. Thus, by their fruit you will recognize them.”

Luke 11:9—“So I say to you: Ask and it will be given to you; seek and you will find; knock and the door will be opened to you.”
My Ratings: Moral rating: Better than Average / Moviemaking quality: 5
—Tee, age 26 (USA)


Comments from young people
Positive—This movie is visually STUNNING. The details on the owls are AMAZING—by far the best visuals I have ever seen in a film. The storyline, being based on the first three books of the Guardians of Ga’Hoole series, is a bit rushed at times, but it’s not too bad. I always knew what was going on. Some parts of the movie (the owlets mass kidnapping and “moon blinking”, the battles and scary things the “flecks” do to owls, for example), may be too frightening for younger kids. But it’s a matter of discretion. My 6 year old cousin, for instance, saw the movie and loved it.

I, as a teenager, found it thrilling. There are good messages here, about family, faith, friendship and perseverance. I saw/heard nothing offensive in the film. And there was (for once) no rude humor! In short, “Legend of the Guardians” is a visually amazing film, and one with a good storyline and messages as well. I would definitely recommend it to anyone who is old enough to not be frightened by the fighting.
My Ratings: Moral rating: Good / Moviemaking quality: 5
—Erin, age 14 (USA)
Negative—It could be just that I’m outgrowing these kinds of movies… To me I found the movie mostly boring and too predictable! The theme has definitely been done before, and character development was not at its greatest. Morally, the movie was okay. I think I may have heard one d-word, and a warrior owl describes war as being hell and not heroic. I don’t believe this movie is great for young children.
My Ratings: Moral rating: Better than Average / Moviemaking quality: 3½
—Emily, age 12 (USA)
Positive—I loved this movie so much! There were no offensive elements in the movie whatsoever, except that there was one bad word when Ezylryb described war as “Hell.” It was an amazing story-line that was laid out in a movie that was visually incredible! The 3D was a very great part of the movie! If you were to go and see it I would highly recommend 3D! Also, I was very impressed on how it stayed true to the first 3 Guardians of Ga’Hoole books! It may have felt a little bit crammed in, but I still loved it! This is a great family movie, however, kids under 6 years-old probably shouldn’t see it due to some scary elements for them. All of the people who read the Guardians of Ga’Hoole books should definitely see it!

Overall, this was an amazing movie, that I’d recommend to everyone! I’m hoping for a sequel, because I would definitely see it opening day!
My Ratings: Moral rating: Excellent! / Moviemaking quality: 5
—Luke, age 13 (USA)
Positive—Based on the trailers for this movie I was very excited to see it, and for once I wasn’t disapointed, I feel that I can honestly say that this is one of the best movies I have ever seen. Visually, Guardians is stunning, the absolute detail that went in to every single shot is breath-taking, from the clouds and the stars, to the fluff on the creatures, to the plants and dust, beautiful.

And for once the movie isn’t pulled down by a weak plot, the story of Soren and the Guardians is very much alive, their world feels real, but the con to that for those with young children is that the evil in that world feels very real, too. I wouldn’t recommend taking your very young children or those with overactive imaginations to see this movie because of the down right scariness of some scenes and the intense action sequences. more »
My Ratings: Moral rating: Good / Moviemaking quality: 5
—Ericka, age 15 (USA)
Positive—…an amazing movie! I saw it in theatres, on September 24, the day it came out. And I just loved it, I had to see it two more times in 3D! I would highly recommend it to Christian families looking for a clean movie, or someone looking for a great lesson, or just someone who has read all the books and loves owls!
My Ratings: Moral rating: Good / Moviemaking quality: 5
—Andre, age 15 (Canada)
Positive—This is an awesome movie! All the owls looked real! I am a big fan of the books, and, although the movie was totally different, I still enjoyed them VERY much. I would say, though, that it might scare younger children. When I say younger, I mean between five and seven. But besides that, I would totally recommend this movie to any family. And a good thing about this movie is that there is no swearing!! I hope sometime you will be able to see it.
My Ratings: Moral rating: Excellent! / Moviemaking quality: 5
—Meaghan, age 13 (USA)