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Legend of the Guardians - The Owls of Ga'Hoole (3D)

7/10

Stars: Voices: Jim Sturgess, Emily Barclay, Ryan Kwanten, Anthony LaPaglia, Hugo Weaving, Helen Mirren, Sam Neill, Geoffrey Rush, Abbie Cornish, Miriam Margolyes, David Wenham, Adrienne de Faria, Joel Edgerton


Director: Zach Snyder

Since this cleverly crafted fantasy adventure is replete with swooping, soaring action and lashings of enthralling aerial battles, youngsters are unlikely to give this impeccably crafted animated fable the bird.

Young owlet hero Soren is in thrall to his father’s epic stories of the mythical winged warriors known as the Guardians of Ga’Hoole. Which stands him in good stead when he and his older brother Kludd are kidnapped by Pure Ones, incongruously titled villains who intend to overcome the Owl Kingdom, leaving Soren to boldly go where no owlet has gone before and find the Great Tree where the Guardians live and enlist them to save all owlkind…

Visually, the film impresses. Characterisation and animation are superb and so, too, is the 3D filming, which director Snyder deploys to emphasise the storytelling and not simply to push his avian characters into your face. The movie has patently been designed for 3D rather than (as happened with the regrettable recent ‘Clash of the Titans’ remake), grafted on as a marketing afterthought.

Vocal casting is good (although I hadn’t known until now how many owls speak with Antipodean accents) with Mirren proving her worth as the voice of the queen of the Pure Ones, Margolyes speaking for the owlets’ nurse who is, a tad improbably, a snake and effective contributions from Antipodeans Rush, Weaving, Cornish, LaPaglia, Neill, Roxburgh and Wenham.

The storyline is quite complex and perhaps not instantly accessible to youngsters. Not that it matters since pacy direction, thrilling set pieces and well-delineated characters more than compensate for narrative complexities. If you don’t believe me, ask Lizzie (8) who thought the film was “brilliant”.

Alan Frank

USA 2010. UK Distributor: Warner Brothers. Colour.
95 minutes. Widescreen. UK certificate: U.

Guidance ratings (out of 3): Sex/nudity 0, Violence/Horror 0, Drugs 0, Swearing 0.

Review date: 21 Oct 2010