‘Legend of the Guardians: The Owls of Ga’Hoole’ features superb animation, spectacular art direction, a great cast and a good score.

It all goes to waste.

Based on a series of novels by the same name, ‘The Owls of Ga’Hoole’ fails in adaptation and storytelling.

I’ve never read the books, but the source material doesn’t seem particularly inspiring. The plot is thoroughly standard fantasy fare with the
only unique feature being that it stars talking owls.

Still, there is certainly a letdown despite the somewhat generic roots. I’ll admit that I’m a sucker for the genre, but the filmmakers miss the
mark here.

The first and foremost offender is the screenplay.  The first act, which is essential in fantasy adventure for developing characters before
the inevitable journey and world expansion, is terribly rushed.

We can barely differentiate these characters by the time they are snatched away by the villains and on their way.

Clearly character development wasn’t of terrible concern here, as it continues to feel shortchanged throughout the entire film.

I guess this shouldn’t come as a surprise with Zack Snyder of ‘300’ fame at the helm. Snyder is a talented visual director, but it often comes
at the cost of the characters and emotions.  This is once again the case here as Snyder delivers a visually striking, but emotionally barren
film.

The film’s gorgeous art direction is brought to life by superlative, richly textured animation and embellished by Snyder’s slow-motion heavy
camerawork.

The production values are further boosted by an epic orchestral score from composer David Hirschfelder.

The cast is also uniformly excellent, but they simply can’t overcome this lifeless screenplay.

The humor is largely ineffective and the characters never strike an emotional chord.

When the final battle comes, we should be feeling something, but the film continually squanders all of its chances to invest in these
characters.

As a result, the adaptation work feels a bit too literal and lazy.  Instead of creating a film inspired by a novel, it feels like a cut and paste job
that includes all the essentials from the story without breathing any life into it.

‘Legend of the Guardians: The Owls of Ga’Hoole’ is ultimately a film that feels like it should be a lot better than it is. It’s well made in many
respects, but simply falls flat in creating any sort of memorable characters and the plot is not original enough to support this fatal
shortcoming.

It looks and sounds good, and isn’t particularly offensive in any way, but ‘The Owls of Ga’Hoole’ never soars to the height of its potential.

* *
(out of four)
LEGEND OF THE GUARDIANS: THE
OWLS OF GA'HOOLE
Directed by: Zack Snyder

Written by: John Orloff and Emil Stern

Starring: Emily Barclay, Abbie Cornish, Essie Davis,
Adrienne DeFaria, Joel Edgerton, Helen Mirren, Sam
Neill, Geoffrey Rush, Hugo Weaving, Richard Roxburgh,
David Wenham

Music by: David Hirschfelder

Released: September 24, 2010; 90 Minutes