Reviewed by: Raphael Vera
|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.
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:
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:
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,
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).
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.