Legend of the Guardians: The Owls of Ga'Hoole
|Legend of the Guardians:
The Owls of Ga'Hoole
Theatrical release poster
|Directed by||Zack Snyder|
|Produced by||Zareh Nalbandian|
|Screenplay by||John Orloff
|Based on||Guardians of Ga'Hoole by Kathryn Lasky|
|Music by||David Hirschfelder and Adam Young (Owl City)|
|Editing by||David Burrows|
|Studio||Village Roadshow Pictures
|Distributed by||Warner Bros.|
|Running time||97 minutes|
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.
||This article's plot summary may be too long or excessively detailed. (June 2012)|
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 called the Guardians who fight against the evil faction of owls that call themselves the Pure Ones. Kludd berates his brother's dreams, having grown tired of listening to the stories about the Guardians. 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. Not strong enough to fly back into the tree, they are attacked by a Tasmanian devil but are quickly saved, and then kidnapped, by two owls, Jatt (Leigh Whannell) and Jutt (Angus Sampson).
Along the way, more owlets are revealed to have been kidnapped. Soren meets Gylfie (Emily Barclay), a young Elf owl who, like so many other owlets, have been taken from their homes. At St. Aegolius, the owlets are greeted by queen Nyra (Helen Mirren), 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), but the other pickers do not know the danger and become moon-blinked. They are forced to 'pick' through owl's pellets, scouring for bits of metal 'flecks', a gizzard-paralyzing metal with magnetic properties that can render an owl powerless and in agony, as Soren discovers the hard way. Soren and Gylfie are spotted by Grimble, a Boreal Owl (Hugo Weaving), who reveals that he is a double agent working under the Pure Ones only to keep his family safe.
He teaches Soren and Gylfie to fly, but Nyra finds out whilst coming to invite Soren to become a soldier after being impressed by Kludd's skills. Nyra and Grimble engage in a battle, and Kludd decides to stay behind despite Soren's pleas for him to come with him and Gylfie. Grimble gives Soren and Gylfie enough time to narrowly escape, but he dies when Nyra fatally injures him. Following Grimble's instructions to seek the Great Tree of Ga'Hoole and warn the Guardians of the Pure One's plans, Soren and Gylfie fly out into the unknown. Along their journey, they meet Twilight (Anthony LaPaglia), a Great Grey Owl and Digger (David Wenham), 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 went in search of Soren and Kludd. Soren tells her that Kludd is still captive and she agrees to go with him to find the Guardians.
The owls, carrying Mrs. P in Twilight's lute, fly towards the sea of Hoolemere where a murder of crows chaotically guides them to the legendary shrine and gateway of the Guardians, kept by an oracular echidna (Barry Otto), 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 (Richard Roxburgh) and (Deborra-Lee Furness), the king and queen of the Guardians who lead them back to the Tree of Ga'Hoole. There, Soren tells the council of Guardians about the Pure One's plans. The Guardians are skeptical but an elderly Screech owl named Ezylryb (Geoffrey Rush) is convinced by Soren's sincerity. Boron sends Allomere (Sam Neill), a Great Gray Owl, out with two scouts to investigate St. Aegolius.
Soren and his band of owls are shown refuge at the Tree of Ga'Hoole, guided by a young Guardian-in-training named Otulissa (Abbie Cornish), 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; a legendary warrior and heroic leader of the Guardians who fought against Metal Beak and removed his beak, forcing him to wear his signature metal helmet to hide his scars. But Soren is disheartened when he learns that his hero is a battle worn veteran who scoffs at his own past and who tells Soren that there is nothing heroic about battle, except doing what's right.
Allomere returns from his scouting mission with news that his two wingmen were killed in an ambush by the Pure Ones. He brings back with him two moon-blinked owlets, one of which is Soren's sister, Eglantine. Seeing the evidence of the Pure One's maliciousness with their own eyes, 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 (after Soren whispers about Ga'Hoole and its legends), Eglantine tells Soren that it was Kludd who moon-blinked her and gave her to Allomere, and Soren realizes that Allomere is a traitor and that the Guardians are actually flying into a trap. With his friends, Soren follows the Guardians where he finds that the Guardians have been subdued and paralyzed by the flecks, contained within a machine operated by the bats.
After Twilight, Gylfie and Digger fend off some bats from the paralysed Guardians, Metal Beak has Allomere dragged away by bats, believing that Allomere knew about their plan. Meanwhile, Soren flies through a forest fire, igniting a lamp of oil, and manages to disable the fleck trap, risking his life. Freed and recovered, the Guardians fly into battle with the Pure Ones and Ezylryb goes straight for Metal Beak. But Metal Beak and Nyra begin to overpower Ezylryb. Soren flies into the battle after spotting Kludd, but Kludd attacks him, throwing him into a forest fire. The two brothers briefly fight in the burning forest and argue, before Kludd leaps onto Soren, causing them to fall down a tree. Soren grabs Kludd's talon to stop him falling into the fire, but Kludd breaks his wing in the procedure, making him unable to fly. Kludd begs Soren to help him, but when he does, Kludd, who is still a Pure One, attacks Soren, only for his branch to break. Kludd falls into the fire, disappearing as a distraught Soren tries to help him.
Furious at Kludd's 'death' and hearing Metal Beak and Nyra fighting Ezylryb, Soren grabs a burning branch and attacks Metal Beak. Ezylryb overpowers Nyra as Soren and Metal Beak fight. Soren drops the branch, and whilst diving after it, ends up grounded, trapped against a rock as Metal Beaks comes closer, preparing to deliver the death blow. However, Soren reaches the burning branch just in time and manages to impale Metal Beak in the stomach, killing him. Nyra retreats and Soren is shocked that he has just killed an owl, but he is comforted by Ezylryb.
The owlets of St. Aegelious are rescued as Nyra and the remaining Pure Ones flee. Soren and Eglantine are reunited with Noctus and Marella, who have come to the tree. Soren and the rest of the Band are welcomed as new Guardians, Soren noting that it is a Guardian's everlasting duty to "Mend the broken, make strong the weak, and vanquish all evil." Soren states that whilst Metal Beak was defeated, Nyra escaped and Kludd's body was never found. However, in the smoking remains of the canyons, an injured silhouette, showing the distinct features of Kludd, is seen staring at the mask of Metal Beak, with the glowing red eyes of the Pure Ones, hinting at Kludd's survival.
- Jim Sturgess as Soren, a Barn Owl, the main protagonist and leader of The "Band". He is the middle child of Noctus and Marella, Kludd's younger brother and Eglantine's older brother.
- Joel Edgerton as Metal Beak, the leader of the Pure Ones, Nyra's husband and the main antagonist. A Greater Sooty Owl.
- Emily Barclay as Gylfie, an Elf Owl, Soren's best friend and navigator of the "Band".
- David Wenham as Digger, a Burrowing Owl, Twilight's best friend and tracker of the "Band".
- Anthony LaPaglia as Twilight, a Great Grey Owl Digger's best friend and warrior of the "Band".
- Helen Mirren as Nyra, Metal Beak's second-in-command and mate, and the secondary antagonist.
- Ryan Kwanten as Kludd, Noctus and Marella's oldest child and son, Soren and Eglantine's older brother and later a Pure One.
- Adrienne DeFaria as Eglantine, Noctus and Marella's youngest child and only daughter and Soren and Kludd's younger sister.
- Abbie Cornish as Otulissa, a Short-eared Owl, an aspiring navigator.
- Hugo Weaving as Noctus, Marella's husband and Soren, Kludd and Eglantine's father
- Hugo Weaving also voices Grimble, a Boreal Owl who was captured by the Pure Ones and works for them only under duress.
- Essie Davis as Marella, Noctus' wife and Soren, Kludd and Eglantine's mother.
- Leigh Whannell as Jatt, a Long-eared Owl, a member of St. Aegolius.
- Angus Sampson as Jutt, a Long-eared Owl, a member of St. Aegolius who is also Jatt's cousin.
- Miriam Margolyes as Mrs Plithiver, a blind snake, Soren, Kludd and Eglantine's nursemaid.
- Barry Otto as The Echidna, a mystic.
- Richard Roxburgh as Boron, a Snowy Owl, The King of the Guardians of Ga'Hoole and husband of Barran.
- Deborra-Lee Furness as Barran, The Queen and Boron's mate.
- Geoffrey Rush as Ezylryb, a Whiskered Screech Owl, a mentor at the Great Tree and legendary warrior, Lyze of Kiel.
- Sam Neill as Allomere, a Great Gray Owl, a member of the Guardians of Ga'Hoole spying for the Pure Ones.
- Sacha Horler as Strix Struma, a Short-eared Owl, a member of the Great Ga'Hoole Tree.
- Bill Hunter as Bubo, a Great Horned Owl, a blacksmith of the Great Ga'Hoole Tree.
- Gareth Young as Pete, a snatched Long-eared owlet.
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. 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. Production began in Australia in February 2009. The film was developed by the digital visual effects company Animal Logic, following its success with the 2006 film Happy Feet. It features a song by Owl City "To the Sky".
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.
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.
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 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 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."
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
|38th Annie Awards||Animated Effects in an Animated Production||Sebastian Quessy||Nominated|
|Music in a Feature Production||David Hirschfelder||Nominated|
|Production Design in a Feature Production||Dan Hee Ryu||Nominated|
|Voice Acting in a Feature Production||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||Grant Freckelton||Won|
Snippets of the film were shown when the company behind the animation, Animal Logic won the Byron Kennardy Award.
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.
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.
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.
“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, 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.
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!”
- Fleming, Michael (April 13, 2008). "Snyder to watch over 'Guardians'". Variety. Retrieved February 9, 2009.
- 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.
- Legend of the Guardians: The Owls of Ga'Hoole (2010). Box Office Mojo. Retrieved May 15, 2011.
- Scott, Mike (September 20, 2010). "Newest Looney Tunes short to play before 'Legend of the Guardians: The Owls of Ga'Hoole'". The Times-Picayune.
- "'Guardians' angel is Warner Bros". Variety. June 16, 2005. Retrieved February 9, 2009.
- Kilday, Gregg (February 9, 2009). "Four fly to Zack Snyder's animated 'Guardians'". The Hollywood Reporter. Retrieved February 9, 2009.
- McWhirter, Erin (April 16, 2008). "Animal Logic produces Guardian of Ga'Hoole, after Happy Feet". Herald Sun (Australia). Retrieved February 26, 2009.
- "Animal Logic » Our Work » Film". Animal Logic. Retrieved June 27, 2012.
- "Animal Logic » Our Work » Design". Animal Logic. Retrieved June 27, 2012.
- "Legend of the Guardians: The Owls of Ga'Hoole Movie Reviews, Pictures". Rotten Tomatoes. Retrieved September 27, 2010.
- ". Retrieved September 3, 2011.
- ". NationalLedger.com. Retrieved September 3, 2011.
- "AACTA unveils first round of awards". Intermedia. Retrieved January 15, 2012.
- "Warner Bros. Announces Legend of the Guardians: The Owls of Ga'Hoole Game". IGN. March 24, 2010. Retrieved April 3, 2010.
- Walker, Michelle (5 April 2011). "Zareh Nalbandian talks Animal Logic's future films". Retrieved 16 May 2012.
- Gilchrist, Todd. "Telling the Epic Legend of the Guardians". Retrieved June 24, 2012.
- Walker, Michelle. "30 Rock Episode Recap: "Double-Edged Sword"". Retrieved 10 May 2012.
- Official website
- Legend of the Guardians: The Owls of Ga'Hoole at the Internet Movie Database
- Legend of the Guardians: The Owls of Ga'Hoole at Metacritic
- Legend of the Guardians: The Owls of Ga'Hoole at Box Office Mojo
- Legend of the Guardians: The Owls of Ga'Hoole at Rotten Tomatoes