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Legend Of The Guardians: The Owls Of Ga'Hoole (3D/2D Combo) (2010) Print E-mail
Tuesday, 21 December 2010
Image“Legend Of The Guardians: The Owls of Ga’Hoole” is an animated feature based on the book series by author Kathryn Lasky.  She wrote fifteen books total in the series.  In what seems to be a trend, much like that of turning beloved 1980s’ figures in feature films, Warner has brought another book series to the big screen.

Warner’s success with Harry Potter has been unmatched.  And it continues to do so.  LOTG:OOG, for short, has some spectacular imagery, more on that in a bit, but an overall sense of great storytelling seems to be missing.

The film opened with modest success, slipping greatly at the box from week to week.  Overall, the US box office intake was not enough to recoup the cost of the animated feature, but was so when combined with box office sales from around the world.

While Lasky was onboard to write the adapted screenplay conflict seemingly arose and the screenplay was passed off to another team.  In fact, wading through the bonus materials you will not find Lasky, which makes one think that something was disagreed upon, as all novel-to-film adaptations contain original author featurettes.  This could be one reason for the film not fairing as well as the original book series.  The lack of the original inspiration seems to come through quite obviously in the final product.

That said, the film does stand fairly well on its own.  Again, it is the imagery that is going to draw most audiences to this film.  In fact, it completed sailed by my radar unnoticed when originally released to theaters.  I thought it was a direct-to-video film.  As with many books-to-film, this animated feature lacks a coherent story.  There are numerous holes that are obviously trimmed fat from the novels.  However, those holes add up over time and leave the audience with a sense that they are missing quite a bit.  The journeys taken by the lead characters in the film are quick, over before you blink your eyes.  Surely more must have happened on the long road, or sky, to the tree and the guardians.  Instead the filmmakers chose to focus more on actually what happens when they get there.  I am all for moving the story along, but there are some things that you just can skip over.
The film is based on a family of owls, in which two brothers are abducted and taken to a mining world where they are to be enslaved by the evil Pure Ones.  The names are quite ridiculous and certainly hard to remember since everything happens so quickly.  The brothers are Kludd and Soren.  Kludd immediately turns toward the dark side, while Soren has a heart and believes that what is happening is wrong.  Despite all of Kludd’s evil behavior, which is evident from the very beginning of the film and stems from jealousy of his brother Soren, Soren continues to try and save his brother.  In this film it just didn’t work.  Instead we are shouting a Soren to wake up and realize that his brother has always been evil.  It is storylines like that which have the audience struggling to view the film in the way the filmmakers intended.  That is the ultimate issue with the film.  It seems the filmmakers have a vision, which doesn’t get accurately shared with the audience through the means of the story.

So, Soren must fly to the fabled Guardians and let them know what is going on with the evil Pure Ones.  When the information is confirmed the Guardians head off for war.  And that is basically all she wrote.  There isn’t much too this story.

On the plus side, the imagery is fantastic.  This Blu-ray comes in both a 3D and 2D version.  The 2D presentation fairs a bit better in video quality, but both achieve stupendous levels of quality.  The primary focus here is the 3D version.  In a rarity, the animated film comes in a 2.40:1 aspect ratio.  This makes the 3D a bit smaller on your limited-sized 3D HDTV.  Still, the effect comes across nicely.

This is a native 3D film and it shows.  First, the visual elements are all there.  The colors are extraordinary.  While the color palette is mostly limited to the dark side of the spectrums, browns, oranges, burgundy, etc., they still remain strikingly vibrant. Black levels are perfect.  Even with all the dark corners and crevices of the scenery in this film, each and every detail is finely rendered.  The overall realistic imagery of this release is impressive.  The owls are defined with as much detail as you would see in real life, or possibly even more.  The textures of each owl and of the scenery are impeccable.  On the flip side, the film also handles the bright sequences just as well.  The contrast and brightness create a pitch perfect blend.

As for the 3D, you are going to wish you had a larger screen.  This is certainly one that I will be replaying when I get a 3D projector.  As with most of the limited 3D releases out there, this film focuses more on depth to the image than fly in your face special effects.  That isn’t to say there aren’t some really neat immersive visuals.  There are.  When Soren soars through a twister in slow motion you are going to almost feel each drop of water.  When the owls fly, it is like you are on the journey with them.  The only issue here is that ghosting is apparent in a variety of sequences.  Luckily ghosting is kept to the outer edges of the frame.  The primary focus of each segment is crystal clean 3D imagery.

Enhancing the 3D element is the audio quality.  As with most animated features the audio quality here is perfect.  It fits with each and every sequence, making it a fully immersive experience.  The owls swoop and glide right over your head.  The flying sound effects are spot on with the 3D imagery, making it all that much more impressive.  The dialogue is clearly rendered and weighty.  The surround channels are engaging from beginning to end.  There is never a moment in which the surround channels go dark.  There is always more than subtle ambience in them, or they are used for full-fledged battle.  The LFE channel is full and offers much support to the overall soundtrack.  This is a terrific complement to the rest of the Blu-ray disc’s presentation.

This is a 3D combo pack, so it includes a 3D Blu-ray disc, a 2D Blu-ray disc and DVD/Digital Copy Combo disc.  The bonus materials are all located on the 2D Blu-ray disc, which is the standard, given the amount of space needed for the 3D version of the films.  There is a 3D cartoon on the 3D disc, but that is it other than the feature.

Warner has included its Maximum Mode, in this case the Maximum “Kid” Mode, which is a PiP track intended for the child audience.  Still, there is a lot of information contained within this track.  “True Guardians of the Earth” is a study of real owls.  “’Legend of the Guardians:’ Armor Up With Soren and Eglantine” is a clothing the character, dress up interactive feature.  “’Legend of the Guardians:’ Rise of the Guardians” is a two-minute backstory clip.  “Match The Owl Treats” is a game of memory.  “Looney Tunes: Fur of Flying” is a 3D three-minute cartoon, also presented in 2D.  Lastly there is an art gallery, a music video and BD-Live functionality.

“Legend Of The Guardians: The Owls Of Ga’Hoole” comes up short on engaging and full storytelling, but its imagery and sound more than make up for that.  In terms of pushing for 3D, this is a must have title.  Actually, I think almost all the available 3D content is probably must have since it is so limited.  However, don’t let that undermine the true quality of this 3D presentation.  I highly recommend this title for 3D owners.  If you are only on a 2D system then this might be worth a rent for the kids.

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