Legend of the Guardians: The Owls of Ga'Hoole

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Legend of the Guardians: The Owls of Ga'Hoole
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
Hugo Weaving
Emily Barclay
Abbie Cornish
Ryan Kwanten
Anthony LaPaglia
Miriam Margoyles
Sam Neill
Richard Roxburgh
David Wenham
Helen Mirren
Michael Wincott
Geoffrey Rush
Music by David Hirschfelder and Adam Young (Owl City)
Edited by David Burrows
Distributed by Warner Bros. Pictures
Release dates
  • September 24, 2010 (2010-09-24) (North America)
  • September 30, 2010 (2010-09-30) (Australia)
Running time 97 minutes
Country United States
Language English
Budget $80 million[2]
Box office $180,073,390[3]

Legend of the Guardians: The Owls of Ga'Hoole is a 2010 American-Australian 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 set in Pre-Aboriginal Australia.

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]


Soren, a young Barn Owl, lives in the Tyto Forest with his family: his father, Noctus; his mother, Marella; his older brother, Kludd; his younger sister, Eglantine; and Mrs. P, 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 called the Guardians who fight against the Pure Ones. Kludd berates his brother's dreams, having grown tired of listening to the stories. When their father teaches them the first steps to flying, Kludd becomes jealous of Soren's natural branching ability. Later, when practicing branching while their parents are hunting, Kludd pushes Soren off a branch which forces them both to fall to the ground. They are attacked by a Tasmanian devil but are saved, and then kidnapped, by two owls, Jatt and Jutt.

Along the way, more owlets are revealed to have been kidnapped. Soren meets Gylfie, a young Elf owl who is also kidnapped. At St. Aegolius, the owlets are greeted by Nyra, who says that they will be divided into either soldiers or 'pickers'. When Soren and Gylfie protest, they are sorted as pickers while Kludd, who betrays Soren, is sent to be a soldier. Soren and Gylfie avoid being 'moon-blinked' (a catatonic state induced by sleeping under a full moon), while the others do not know and become moon-blinked. They are forced to 'pick' through owl's pellets, scouring for bits of metal 'flecks', which are being used to build a superweapon. They are spotted by Grimble, a Boreal Owl, who reveals that he works under the Pure Ones only to keep his family safe. He teaches them to fly, but Nyra finds out whilst coming to invite Soren to become a soldier. Kludd decides to stay behind despite Soren's pleas for him to come with him. Grimble and Nyra engage in a battle, but Grimble is eventually killed. Following his instructions to seek the Great Tree of Ga'Hoole and warn the Guardians, Soren and Gylfie fly out. Along their journey, they meet Twilight, a Great Grey Owl, and Digger, a burrowing owl, and rest with them in their shared hollow. Soren is reunited with Mrs. P who is brought in by Twilight, having captured her for dinner while she searched for them. She agrees to go with them to find the Guardians.

The band flies towards the sea of Hoolemere where a flock of crows chaotically guides them to the legendary shrine and gateway of the Guardians, kept by an oracular echidna, who provides comic, but accurate, descriptions of the quintet and guidance to the object of their quest. He sends the owls out to sea to find the island of Ga'Hoole. En route, the band encounters a fierce storm and Digger's wings freeze, causing him to nearly drown in the sea, but they are saved by Boron and Barran, the king and queen of the Guardians who lead them back to the Tree of Ga'Hoole. There, Soren tells the Guardian council about the Pure One's plans. The Guardians are skeptical, but an elderly Screech owl named Ezylryb is convinced by Soren's sincerity. Boron sends a Great Grey Owl called Allomere out with two scouts to investigate St. Aegolius.

The band is shown refuge at the Tree of Ga'Hoole, guided by a young Guardian-in-training named Otulissa, a Short-eared Owl. Soren develops a crush on her, to Gylfie's annoyance. They are sent to attend different classes called 'chaws'. During one lesson in the middle of a rainstorm, Soren grasps a brief hold on gizzard-flying (flying purely with instinct), but loses control and falls towards the sea. Ezylryb rescues him and orders Soren back to his hollow. There, Soren learns that Ezylryb is, in fact, the Lyze of Kiel; the legendary leader of the Guardians who fought and defeated Metal Beak, the ancient leader of the Pure Ones, and Nyra's mate. But Soren is disheartened when he learns that his hero is a battle worn veteran who scoffs at his own past. Allomere returns from his scouting mission with news that his two wingmen were killed in an ambush. He brings back with him two moon-blinked owlets, one of which is Soren's sister, Eglantine. Seeing the evidence, the Guardians arrange for battle and fly out towards St. Aegolius. Before leaving, Ezylryb instructs an anxious Soren to tend to his sister. When she finally snaps out of her trance, Eglantine tells Soren that it was Kludd who moon-blinked her and gave her to Allomere, and he realises that Allomere is a traitor and that the Guardians are actually flying into a trap. The band then follows the Guardians where they find the Guardians subdued by the flecks, contained in a machine operated by bats.

Twilight, Gylfie and Digger fend off the bats sent by Metal Beak to kill the paralysed Guardians. This causes Metal Beak to distrust Allomere, and, believing he lied to him about bringing all the Guardians, has him dragged away by several bats. Meanwhile, Soren flies through a forest fire, igniting a lamp of oil, and manages to disable the fleck trap. Freed and recovered, the Guardians fly into battle and Ezylryb goes straight for Metal Beak, but him and Nyra begin to overpower him. Soren flies into the battle after spotting Kludd, but Kludd attacks him, throwing him into the forest fire. The two brothers briefly fight and argue, before Kludd leaps onto Soren, causing them to fall down a tree. Soren grabs Kludd to stop him from falling into the fire. He begs Soren to help him, but when he does, Kludd attacks him, only for his branch to snap. Kludd falls into the fire and disappears. Furious at Kludd's "death", Soren grabs a flaming branch and avenges Kludd by attacking Metal Beak. Metal Beak easily has the upper hand on Soren, but Soren manages to impale Metal Beak with the flaming branch when he dives at him, killing him once and for all. Nyra, shocked at her mate's death, retreats with the remaining Pure Ones.

When they return to the tree, Soren and Eglantine are reunited with their parents, who have come to the tree. The band is then welcomed as new Guardians. Soren states that whilst Metal Beak was defeated, Nyra escaped and Kludd's body was never found. Meanwhile, back in the smoking remains of the canyons, a shadowy figure, Kludd, is shown staring at the mask of Metal Beak with red "Pure One" eyes.

Voice cast[edit]

Additional voices[edit]


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 "To the Sky", a song by Owl City.

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


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[edit]

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]


Home media[edit]

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.

Video game[edit]

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.[10]


Box office[edit]

In the US it took in only $5.5 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 slightly 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 $60.5 million domestic (US) gross, making it less successful than the producers had expected and only ranking as the fourth highest-grossing animated feature for the year. However, in the wider market, it was a major success, grossing over $120 million from its international release, bringing the total up to $180,073,390.

Critical response[edit]

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 adapted plot, which was 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 6.8 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."[11]


Group Category Recipient Result
38th Annie Awards Animated Effects in an Animated Production[12] Sebastian Quessy Nominated
Music in a Feature Production[13] David Hirschfelder Nominated
Production Design in a Feature Production[13] Dan Hee Ryu Nominated
Voice Acting in a Feature Production[13] 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 Best Visual Effects[14] Grant Freckelton Won
Best Sound Nominated

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


Legend of the Guardians: The Owls of Ga'Hoole: Original Motion Picture Soundtrack
Soundtrack album by David Hirschfelder and Owl City
Released September 21, 2010
Genre Film soundtrack
Length 64:12
Label WaterTower Music

WaterTower Music released the film's official soundtrack on September 21, 2010. The album includes thirteen score tracks composed by David Hirschfelder. The soundtrack also includes the song "To the Sky", recorded by Owl City exclusively for the film.

No. Title Length
1. "To the Sky (Performed by Owl City)"   3:39
2. "Flight Home (The Guardian Theme)"   3:51
3. "Taken to Saint Aegilious"   5:37
4. "Welcome to the Pellatorium"   4:51
5. "A Long Way to the Guardians"   5:57
6. "You Know We're Flying"   2:37
7. "A Friend or Two"   5:18
8. "The Boy Was Right"   4:04
9. "Sharpen the Battle Claws"   6:22
10. "Follow the Whale's Fin"   5:11
11. "Into Battle"   5:07
12. "Hello Brother"   2:51
13. "My Soldiers, My Sons"   3:27
14. "More Baggy Wrinkles"   3:19
Total length:

Possible sequel[edit]

"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 popular culture[edit]

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]

In The Simpsons episode, "Specs and the City", Bart gives Nelson an "Owls of Ga'Hoole"-themed Valentine.


  1. ^ a b Fleming, Michael (April 13, 2008). "Snyder to watch over 'Guardians'". Variety. Retrieved February 9, 2009. 
  2. ^ Fritz, Ben (September 23, 2010). "Movie projector: 'Wall Street' and 'Guardians' to battle for No. 1 as 'You Again' lags". Los Angeles Times. Tribune Company. Retrieved September 23, 2010. 
  3. ^ Legend of the Guardians: The Owls of Ga'Hoole (2010). Box Office Mojo. Retrieved May 15, 2011.
  4. ^ Scott, Mike (September 20, 2010). "Newest Looney Tunes short to play before 'Legend of the Guardians: The Owls of Ga'Hoole'". The Times-Picayune. 
  5. ^ "'Guardians' angel is Warner Bros". Variety. June 16, 2005. Retrieved February 9, 2009. 
  6. ^ Kilday, Gregg (February 9, 2009). "Four fly to Zack Snyder's animated 'Guardians'". The Hollywood Reporter. Retrieved February 9, 2009. 
  7. ^ McWhirter, Erin (April 16, 2008). "Animal Logic produces Guardian of Ga'Hoole, after Happy Feet". Herald Sun (Australia). Retrieved February 26, 2009. 
  8. ^ "Animal Logic » Our Work » Film". Animal Logic. Retrieved June 27, 2012. 
  9. ^ "Animal Logic » Our Work » Design". Animal Logic. Retrieved June 27, 2012. 
  10. ^ "Warner Bros. Announces Legend of the Guardians: The Owls of Ga'Hoole Game". IGN. March 24, 2010. Retrieved April 3, 2010. 
  11. ^ "Legend of the Guardians: The Owls of Ga'Hoole Movie Reviews, Pictures". Rotten Tomatoes. Retrieved September 27, 2010. 
  12. ^ ". Retrieved September 3, 2011.
  13. ^ a b c ". NationalLedger.com. Retrieved September 3, 2011.
  14. ^ "AACTA unveils first round of awards". Intermedia. Retrieved January 15, 2012. 
  15. ^ Walker, Michelle (5 April 2011). "Zareh Nalbandian talks Animal Logic's future films". Retrieved 16 May 2012. 
  16. ^ Gilchrist, Todd. "Telling the Epic Legend of the Guardians". Retrieved June 24, 2012. 
  17. ^ Walker, Michelle. "30 Rock Episode Recap: "Double-Edged Sword"". Retrieved 10 May 2012. 

External links[edit]