(G) US. Jim Sturgess, Hugo Weaving, David Wenham
Every studio exec in Hollywood has been scouring the children’s lit catalogue for the next Harry Potter. Along the way, some good fantasy books have been turned into muddled movies (The Golden Compass, The Chronicles of Narnia). Kathryn Lasky’s Guardians of Ga’Hoole books, about the adventures of owls who battle wearing armour, is an obvious candidate for adaptation. A young hero is separated from his family, experiences some bad things, undertakes an epic journey and learns important life lessons. It writes itself. The fact that the heroes are owls, with sorely limited facial expressions... well, that’s just a challenge for the digital animators.
Director Zack Snyder tackles the movie with the same plodding bombast he delivered in 300. He’s also overly fond of the swooping mobile camera, which gives owl flight a vertiginous feeling, but also makes the film feel like a boat ride on a rather stormy night. The plot moves along in a fashion that will probably satisfy the target audience (the under 13s), but it’s a grind for anyone who knows their way around the fantasy tropes.