A week or two ago I saw Legend Of The Guardians: The Owls Of Ga’Hoole at the cinema – in digital 3D! Arguably better than analogue 3D. It’s directed by Zack Snyder, the man behind the excellent Dawn Of The Dead remake and the merely decent adaptations of the comic books 300 and Watchmen, and this is his first animated film. The film was pretty okay; nothing really groundbreaking, though it was nice seeing a children’s film that had a darker-than-average visual style and some action and character death scenes. Nothing as dramatic and memorable as The Lion King or Bambi, though.
I felt the 3D, while neat, sort of detracted from the visual experience; I wasn’t able to take in too much of the scenery, only the characters which were in focus, and now and then some of the characters looked slightly… double. Perhaps due to the fact that I wasn’t seated completely in the middle of the theater, but I’m not sure how this modern 3D works.
My main problem with the film was that the pacing and the film’s sense of time felt a bit off throughout, like it hurried through the narrative and never managed to make it clear just how much time had passed in between scenes and events, and generally it felt like not much time had passed at all. To give a few examples… (Spoilers ahead!)
- The protagonists ask another character if he can offer them a place to rest, but a few minutes after arriving at where they’re supposed to rest they’re off again – without having actually rested, despite having had the opportunity to do so, and they seemed perfectly happy about being on their way again unrested.
- One of the characters suddenly has a few facial scars, presumably to show that he’s been through some hard training for a longer period of time. Yet it seems like only hours passed since we last saw him, all scar-less, and we’ve never seen him do any real training.
- The protagonists go on what’s supposed to be a long and dangerous journey to what seems like a faraway place. Yet the journey doesn’t seem that long, and they’re later able to travel between this faraway place and where they came from in a matter of hours, perhaps even under an hour.
- The protagonists get trained in flying, but it’s unclear whether or not they only had one lesson, or several. The more realistic answer would be several, but the narrative made it seem like there was just one.
This made it difficult to get engaged in the film. I think the story could have worked better as a TV-series than as a film, where it would’ve had more time to naturally unfold rather than having to cram it all into 90 minutes, and more things could’ve been explained (like the magical pieces of metal, why the bats worked for the owls, how Eglantine was kidnapped, why Eglantine was suddenly cured, whatever happened to their parents).
Was a bit annoyed at the anti-rationalism the film subtly espouses towards the end, with the protagonists learning that he needs to follow his gizzard and not his head – in a non-owl film gizzard would’ve been heart, guts, intuition, the force, or something else. Would like to see some films where the message is to think things through and do what’s rational.
Also, commissioning Owl City for a song for the film was pretty cheesy. Doubt he would have been commissioned if his artist name didn’t have owl in it. Maybe I should change my artist name to The Society Of Poor Owls, and hope they want to commission me for the sequel. There’s not enough lo-fi indie music in films these days, after all. For the heck of it, I tried doing a brief cover of the song featured in the film, but it was trickier to sing than expected. But at least it’s guaranteed auto-tune free!
If you prefer your music to be slicker and full of auto-tune, you can find the original music video here.