Screen Rant's Vic Holtreman reviews Legend of the Guardians: The Owls of Ga'Hoole
Legend of the Guardians: The Owls of Ga'Hoole is a gorgeous 3D, CGI feast for the eyes with a story that you'll have seen many times before. It has your young, inexperienced (eventual) hero, initially full of self doubt; a pending invasion from a dark, powerful enemy army; and a weapon that is seemingly impossible to fight (does that sound even vaguely familiar yet?).
That's really your plot in a nutshell. I won't bother naming the characters because frankly, they didn't really register with me. You've got your "good son" owl who gets the attention of mom and dad and his jealous brother. There's also a wide-eyed little baby sister owl who loves to hear the stories of the Guardians - wise and fearless warrior owls who lived long ago and defended the... townsfolk (townsowls?).
The brothers are kidnapped and taken to the land where the evil owl overlord is building a weapon that somehow magically captures owls and renders them helpless. One of the issues with this film is that the weapon is a complete mystery - it needs tiny little pieces of metal to function, but beyond that it's quite literally a plot device.
While captured, the good brother vows to escape while the jealous brother finally finds the approval he's been craving all these years - he's trained as one of the elite warrior class and has no problem going over to the dark side (*cough*).
Eventually our hero makes the perilous journey to find the fabled Guardians, where he learns to fly and fight like an owl Ninja. There are hundreds of captured and enslaved owls being held by the evil overlord owl, so this leads to the inevitable (and epic) final battle. Will good triumph over evil? (Rhetorical question with an obvious answer).
Where Legends of the Guardians really shines is in the animation. It is simply breathtaking - the level of quality, the movement of the owls, the design of their world - everything is quite beautiful and excruciatingly detailed. The voice actors do a good job, with some engaging and funny characters and accents that add a bit of charm to them (for US audiences, anyway). The 3D is used to great effect and was very well done - not too obvious, but not so subtle that you'll be left asking what was the point.
Where it isn't so strong is in the story - which while pretty basic at its core, has a level of complexity in the details that younger kids will probably get lost. On the other hand, kids will probably be so mesmerized with the look of the film that they won't mind too much. And speaking of younger audience members, for a PG animated movie some of the battle scenes are pretty intense.
In the end, I'd say this is worth checking out if you're a fan of fine CGI animation and are curious what an animated, PG-rated movie from Zack Snyder (300, Watchmen) might be like.
Legends of the Guardians trailer: