Tuesday, 21 September 2010
FILM REVIEW: LEGEND OF THE GUARDIANS
I know I'll be in the minority (and perhaps accused of being un-Australian) when I say I'm not a fan of Happy Feet, the 2006 locally created animated flick. While the film was entertaining enough, and the animation excellent, it didn't really do a whole lot for me. The local love for the film, including a healthy box office, and its Oscar win for Best Animated Feature (although it was up against Pixar's worst film, Cars) resulted in a wave of adulation and, for mine, one of the most overrated films of this decade.
But as I said, the animation was excellent and Animal Logic, the Australian animation house behind Happy Feet, have done it again. Legend of the Guardians: The Owls of Ga'Hoole is an impressive looking film, even in 3D. The visuals are neither distracting nor murky and every feather of every owl is perfectly rendered.
The story on the other hand, adapted from the book by Kathryn Lasky, is all a bit heavy and convoluted, especially for a younger audience. No dancing bird life here; these owls are fighters not lovers and while the makers of the film may have gone all Disney and skimped on the blood, the feathers certainly fly - a lot of them in slow motion.
That probably has a lot to do with director Zack Snyder, the man responsible for much bloodier, adult fare such as 300 and Watchmen and who has a noted penchant for the use of slow-mo. I'm not exactly sure what drew him to the story of Ga'Hoole, or why the American was brought in to direct such a major Australian project (not that there's anything wrong with that!), but his imprimatur is all over the final product.
But it's also identifiably Australian with an impressive local voice cast – Hugo Weaving, Geoffrey Rush, Anthony LaPaglia, David Wenham, and Joel Edgerton who seems to be channeling Nick Nolte at his grouchiest – not to mention imports such as Jim Sturgess, Miriam Margolyes and Helen Mirren.
To counter my earlier "unpatriotic" statement, and at the risk of sounding jingoistic, I'd recommend seeing Legend of the Guardians on the big screen, if only to savour (and support) the excellent artistry of our local animators. Besides, judging by the box office, almost everyone has seen Despicable Me by now.