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Legend of the Guardians: The Owls of Ga'Hoole

Legend of the Guardians:
The Owls of Ga'Hoole
File:Legend of the Guardians film poster.jpg
Theatrical release poster
Directed by Zack Snyder
Produced by Zareh Nalbandian
Screenplay by John Orloff
Emil Stern[1]
Based on Guardians of Ga'Hoole by Kathryn Lasky
Starring Jim Sturgess
Geoffrey Rush
Emily Barclay
Anthony LaPaglia
Joel Edgerton
David Wenham
Ryan Kwanten
Helen Mirren
Sam Neill
Hugo Weaving
Miriam Margoyles
Music by David Hirschfelder and Adam Young (Owl City)
Editing by David Burrows
Studio Village Roadshow Pictures
Animal Logic
Distributed by Warner Bros.
Release date(s)
Running time 97 minutes
Country United States
Australia
Language English
Budget $80 million[2]
Box office $140,073,390[3]

Legend of the Guardians: The Owls of Ga'Hoole is a 2010 Australian-American computer-animated epic fantasy-adventure film based on the Guardians of Ga'Hoole series by Kathryn Lasky. Zack Snyder directed the film as an animation debut, with Jim Sturgess, Geoffrey Rush, Emily Barclay, Helen Mirren, Ryan Kwanten, Anthony LaPaglia, and David Wenham voicing the characters.

Warner Bros. distributed the film with the Australian companies Village Roadshow Pictures and Animal Logic, the latter having produced visual effects for Happy Feet. Production took place in Australia, and the film was released in RealD 3D and IMAX 3D on September 24, 2010.[4]

Plot

Soren (Jim Sturgess), a young Barn Owl, lives in the Tyto Forest with his family: his father, Noctus (Hugo Weaving); his mother, Marella (Essie Davis); his older brother, Kludd (Ryan Kwanten); his younger sister, Eglantine (Adrienne DeFaria); and Mrs. Plithiver aka Mrs. P (Miriam Margolyes) the family's nest maid, a kindly blind snake. Soren enjoys listening to the 'Legends of Ga'Hoole,' which are mythical tales of warrior owls fighting against the evil rebellion of owls that call themselves the Pure Ones. One day, in jealousy of Soren's branching ability, Kludd pushes him off a branch, but inadvertently falls himself. On the ground, they are attacked by a Tasmanian devil, but are saved/kidnapped by owls, Jatt (Leigh Whannell) and Jutt (Angus Sampson).

As the owls take them to St. Aegolius, the canyonland home of the Pure Ones, Soren meets Gylfie (Emily Barclay), a young elf owl as well as many other owlets. At St. Aegolius, the queen of the Pure Ones, Nyra (Helen Mirren), says that the young owls are their slaves. When Soren and Gylfie protest, the two are placed as 'pickers'. Kludd openly rejects Soren and receives training to become a soldier with the Pure Ones. Grimble, a Boreal Owl (Hugo Weaving), Soren and Gylfie's captor, secretly tells them that he is disloyal to the Pure Ones and teaches them to fly. However, Nyra catches them just as she comes to invite Soren to be a soldier. Grimble then sacrifices himself to allow the owls to fly away seeking the 'Great Tree of Ga'Hoole' to warn the mythical Guardians about the Pure Ones' plan against them, and what they saw.

Along the journey, they meet Twilight (Anthony LaPaglia), a Great Grey Owl and Digger (David Wenham), a burrowing owl. They also find Mrs. P., who had left the family nest in search of Soren and Kludd, worried.

The owls, carrying Mrs. P in Twilight's lute, are guided to a shrine run by an oracular echidna (Barry Otto), who provides comic, but accurate, descriptions of the quintet and guidance to the object of their quest. Despite a fierce storm, the group, now called "the Band", manages to reach the Great Tree with assistance from the Guardians, where they are trained in different chaws, or classes, one of which is taught by Strix Struma, a Spotted Owl (Sacha Horler). The Parliament of the tree listens intently to the Band's story. One owl, Allomere (Sam Neill), a Great Gray Owl, objects to the story. However, a Whiskered Screech Owl, Eyzlryb (Geoffrey Rush), supports it. Later, Soren and Gylfie are introduced to a female Short-eared Owl (Though in the books she's a Spotted Owl) called Otulissa (Abbie Cornish).

Later Ezylryb takes the owlets on a flight lesson in a torrential rainstorm. Otulissa goes with them, but only to act as support. He demonstrates how to fly in a controlled fashion, with Soren and Gylfie struggling to gain control. Soren briefly masters gizzard-flying, only to lose control and fall towards the sea. Ezylryb rescues him and orders Soren to go back to his hollow. Soren learns that Ezylryb is in fact, Lyze of Keil, the heroic leader of the Guardians. Soren is enraged when Ezylryb scoffs at his own past, though Ezylryb explains the concept of battle: how it's not even heroic, merely doing what's right, even if someday one might end up having a scarred face. Meanwhile, Kludd, now a Pure One Guard, continues to follow the lead of other Pure Ones & continues to become more evil by being enrolled as one by the evil Metal Beak (Joel Edgerton), the evil leader of the Pure Ones.

Allomere returns from a scouting mission from The Beaks with news that his wingmen had been killed in an ambush by the Pure Ones. He had brought to the tree two moon-blinked, a catatonic state of entrancement caused by sleeping under the moonlight for a prolonged period of time, owlets, one of which is Soren's sister, Eglantine. Angered, the Guardians invade The Beaks. Soren manages to break her trance and Eglantine reveals that Kludd had kidnapped her and given her to Allomere. Shocked by this deception, the original band quickly flies to the Guardians' aid. Allomere's treason had led them into a trap. The Guardians have been physically and mentally paralyzed by mind and gizzard-paralyzing "flecks," operated by bats and made of metal bits gleaned by the enslaved "Pickers" in the months before.

Allomere is then betrayed as well by Metal beak, who's then dragged away in the darkness to be eaten by the bats. Soren manages to disable the flecks, by flying into the forest fire and setting a lamp into flames, risking his own life. Meanwhile, Digger, Gylfie and Twilight fend off the impending bats. just enough energy left to save the Guardians, he plunges into the fleck field and the blue magnet is ebbed away. Ezylryb quickly helps Soren up and all the Guardians fly off, ready for battle. Soren is confronted by Kludd, who leads the battle into a forest fire. Kludd is angry at Soren and throws him into a tree multiple times, before Soren catches him off guard. The two brothers fight a little, before Kludd rams into Soren. The fall down a burning tree results in Kludd's wing broken, rendering him flightless. Soren grabs Kludd's foot and Kludd tricks him into pulling him up, only to attack Soren. Soren dodges Kludd's attack and tries to save his brother before Kludd accidentally falls into the forest fire.

Furious at Kludd's "death" and at hearing Metal Beak and Nyra fighting Ezylryb, Soren returns to the Guardian's aid, and attacks Metal Beak just in time before the latter could finally murder Soren's hero. However, Metal Beak descends and is about to kill Soren when the younger owl manages to impale the enemy leader on a burning stick from the fire, killing him. A stunned Nyra calls the Pure Ones to a retreat and The Band and Guardians, victorious, return to the tree. Kludd's body was never found and a scene is briefly shown of a shadowy figure that might be Kludd approaching the mask of Metal Beak. Soren, Gylfie, The Band are honored as the latest Guardians of Ga'Hoole, with Soren now reunited with his parents, Eglantine and Mrs. P concludes the story by noting that it is a Guardian's everlasting duty to "Mend the broken, make strong the weak, and vanquish all evil."

Cast

Additional voices

  • Tony Cogin
  • James Evans
  • Amanda Bishop
  • Lelda Kapsis
  • John Xontavellonis
  • Trent Dalzell
  • Andrew McDonnell

Production

Warner Bros. acquired film rights to the book series Guardians of Ga'Hoole by Kathryn Lasky in June 2005. The studio planned to produce the series as a computer-generated animated film under producer Donald De Line with Lasky writing the adapted screenplay.[5] In April 2008, the project was under Village Roadshow with Zack Snyder attached to direct and Zareh Nalbandian producing. A new screenplay was written by John Orloff and Emil Stern.[1] Production began in Australia in February 2009.[6] The film was developed by the digital visual effects company Animal Logic, following its success with the 2006 film Happy Feet.[7] It features a song by Owl City "To the Sky".

Along with the film was a new 3D Looney Tunes cartoon entitled "Fur of Flying", featuring Wile E. Coyote and Road Runner.

Animation

The film was developed and produced for more than 3 years at Animal Logic's studios in Sydney, Australia. A team of 500+ artists, technicians, and support staff were amassed to design and develop the film. The film was conceived in 3D stereoscopic from the get-go.

Animal Logic's team of artists designed, created, and animated 15 unique species of owls, as well as other forest creatures such as snakes, crows, bats, centipedes, bees, beetles, bugs, moths, a hermit crab, a Tasmanian Devil, and an echidna.[8]

Credits animation

The end credits sequence shows the adventures of Soren, Gylfie, Digger and Twililght as told by the young owls as if they were putting on a shadow play performance in the Great Tree. It was this childlike quality that guided the animation and the interpretation of the story in the credits.

The credit sequence was conceived by Felicity Coonan, and was designed and executed over 3 months at Animal Logic's Sydney studios. A small team of artists who had each been intricately involved in the production of the film were amassed to execute the sequence.

Coonan wanted the sequence to be a playful experiment in 2D and 3D, because the classic storytelling form of shadow puppets is essentially a 2D medium. The credits were designed to be legible without 3D glasses.[9]

Reception

Critical reception

Legend of the Guardians: The Owls of Ga'Hoole has received mixed reviews from critics. The film's photorealistic visual animation, voice acting, cinematography and 3D effects were praised, while criticism was directed towards the film's character development and adapted plot, which were seen as 'esoteric' and 'predictable'. Rotten Tomatoes reported that 50% of 121 sampled critics gave the film positive reviews and that it received a rating average of 5.6 out of 10. It reported the critics' consensus as "Legend of the Guardians' dark tone and dazzling visuals are to be admired, even if they're ultimately let down by a story that never lives up to its full potential."[10]

Box office

In the US it took in only $4.5 million on opening day, ranking third at the box office in the US. It ranked second on Saturday, earning $6 million, and was No. 1 on Sunday, earning $4.6 million (US). Overall, it earned $16,112,211 on its opening weekend, reaching second place at the box office behind Wall Street: Money Never Sleeps in America. This makes Legend of the Guardians Zach Snyder's first film not to reach No. 1 on its opening weekend in the US; overall a disappointing start, only earning a fraction of this year's animation line-up and more in line with Warner Bros. other 2010 family films Cats & Dogs: The Revenge of Kitty Galore and Yogi Bear. In its second weekend, the film held very well, slipping only 32% to $10,887,543 and holding onto second place, this time behind The Social Network, claiming the title of the biggest second-weekend hold for an animated feature in 2010. The film ended its run in February 2011 with a $55.6 million domestic (US) gross, making it a disappointment and only ranking as the sixth highest-grossing animated feature for the year. However, in the wider market, it was a major success, grossing over $84 million from its international release, bringing the total up to $140 million.

Awards and nominations

Group Category Recipient Result
38th Annie Awards Animated Effects in an Animated Production[11] Sebastian Quessy Nominated
Music in a Feature Production[12] David Hirschfelder Nominated
Production Design in a Feature Production[12] Dan Hee Ryu Nominated
Voice Acting in a Feature Production[12] Geoffrey Rush Nominated
Visual Effects Society Awards 2010 Outstanding Animation in an Animated Feature Motion Picture Nominated
Outstanding Animated Character in an Animated Feature Motion Picture Nominated
Satellite Awards Motion Picture, Animated or Mixed Media Nominated
Saturn Awards Best Animated Film Nominated
AACTA Awards AACTA Award for Best Visual Effects[13] Grant Freckelton Won

Snippets of the film were shown when the company behind the animation, Animal Logic won the Byron Kennardy Award.

Soundtrack

Main article: Legend of the Guardians: The Owls of Ga'Hoole (soundtrack)

WaterTower Music released the film's official soundtrack on September 21, 2010. The film's score was written by David Hirschfelder. The soundtrack also includes the song "To the Sky", recorded by Owl City.

Video game

Warner Bros. Interactive Entertainment released a game based on the film, as well as including some elements from the books, for the Wii, Xbox 360, PlayStation 3, and Nintendo DS platforms on September 14, 2010. The game was developed by Krome Studios for Wii, Xbox 360, and PlayStation 3 with the Nintendo DS version developed by Tantalus Media.[14]

DVD release

The 2010 Region 1 DVD includes a documentary featurette about owls, entitled True Guardians of the Earth, featuring ornithologists and conservationists, and presented by child actor Rico Rodriguez and character Digger the Owl (voiced by David Wenham). The cartoon "Fur of Flying" is the second special feature.

Sequel

“There hasn’t been anything specific around a second Legend of the Guardians at this stage. We have discussions with Warner Bros. across a range of projects; we have projects in development with them, as well as projects in development outside of Warner Bros. Legend… lines up alongside all the projects we have, in terms of what’s the most attractive, commercial proposition to do next.”
—Zareh Nalbandian in an enterview with Encore.

According to Animal Logic's CEO, Zareh Nalbandian, there have been discussions for a sequel to Legend of the Guardians: The Owls of Ga'Hoole, but nothing solid as to when production would begin,[15] as such a sequel would come in behind several other films Animal Logic will be producing or already is producing with Warner Bros.

Jim Sturgess and Ryan Kwanten have both said in an interview that they would reprise their roles as Soren and Kludd if a sequel ever entered production.[16] In the same interview, director Zack Snyder stated that he currently isn't involved with the sequel.

In popular culture

In the 30 Rock episode "Double-Edged Sword", Legend of the Guardians is the in-flight movie on the aircraft piloted by Carol (Matt Damon), who claims his passengers "...think that $300 and a photo ID gives them the right to fly through the air like the guardian owls of legend!”[17]

References

External links

  • Internet Movie Database
  • Box Office Mojo
  • Rotten Tomatoes
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