If you want to enjoy one of the best visual experiences of your life, look no further than Ga’Hoole. A movie all about owls and the legends that bind them, this film is an amazing visual journey combined with some of the best digital animation I’ve ever witnessed. This is the only children’s movie I’ve ever wanted to see in 3-D. This movie destroyed my life and my preconceived notions on how to experience a movie, and reconstructed it entirely. I have to say, most of the plot was lost on me at parts because I was just enjoying what I was witnessing. I’m sure with Zack Snyder on board as the director of the film that the plot was adequate, but where he shines is his shot design.
So let me try to piece together what I gathered from this movie. Soren (Jim Sturgess) is a barn owl (they gave them a different name…) with a happy
This is what it's all about.
family. His older brother Kludd (Ryan Kwanten) and younger sister Eglantine (Adrienne DeFaria) and parents, Noctus (Hugo Weaving) and Marella (Essie Davis). I gotta hand it to Hugo Weaving for taking such a small part with the dramatic chops his voice holds, i.e. V for Vendetta. The younger owls all being fledgelings, they are still learning how to fly. They sit around all happily and whatnot in their hole in the tree and listen to stories told about the Legends of the Guardians. Fun.
Ahhhh, the Guardians...
And then things go from fine to horrifically wrong. Soren and Kludd do some showboating and find themselves in a cage match with a Tazmanian Devil (to tell you the truth, couldn’t tell what it was at the time). These two get picked off by some mean mugging owls and are taken away to some canyon base way out in the middle of wherever on Earth this movie is supposed to take place. (I guessed Austrailia due to the accents…) Upon discovering themselves in a bad situations. Kludd and Soren are put in a bad situation. They must fight for Metal Beak (Joel Edgerton) and his mate Nyra (Helen Mirren). Soren says hell no and Kludd allows himself to be roped in.
Soren, on his way down to the slave camp, encounters an elf owl named Gylfie. The two stick together and fake out their captors by pretending to be
This is the scene that blows minds.
moonshined (or moon lighted, whatever it is). Finding the help of one of their captors to be quite helpful, the two escape the canyon and head to find the tree that houses all the Guardians. On the way they meet Twilight (Anthony La Paglia) and Digger (David Wenham). This kooky pair is a minstrel and a whacked out digger (hence the name) that find solace in each other somehow. It turns out later that Twilight is a big badass fighter that can destroy about 500 bats.
A picturesque world in some faroff place... (Austrailia?)
Upon reaching the sea, in one of the most amazing visual scenes I’ve ever witnessed, they come upon the tree and recruit the owls in order to bring down some evil Mother’effers. With talons bared and metal steel forged for claws, these owls really tear into one another. Some betrayal and some harrowing experiences turn Soren and his friends into the Guardians of Ga’Hoole, and a bunch of other words and phrases they used I didn’t understand.
I have to comment on the cast of this movie. There are a lot of voices that I really couldn’t match with faces when I watched this. Looking back now, Zack Snyder and the casting director must have put some deep thought into a bunch of Austrailians and people who can do the accent for this movie. Hugo
Who knew Hedwig ruled the Guardians?
Weaving and his small part as the loving father. Word. He was born in Nigeria. That’s way out there but not a stretch with all the English accents he’s done. He has quite an interesting voice. Jim Sturgess? He was key as Soren. English, but he made me forget how much I hated Across the Universe. Here’s one out of left field. Ryan Kwanten, star of Dead Silence, was Kludd. His voice was so under the radar for me that I had no idea he was from Austrailia. Bravo right there.
Can this get any more spectacular?
Helen Mirren, the always popular and go to English actress for all things Mirren. DAVID WENHAM AS DIGGER. I could not pick that up at all. Who knew Faramir of Lord of the Rings could pull off such a silly and dorky voice like that. Should’ve remembered his character from Van Helsing… Abbie Cornish as the barn owl love interest towards the end of the film? Word. Another Zack Snyder influenced girl right there from my favorite, Suckerpunch. Even Leigh Whannell, director of the Saw series and star of Saw 1 was in this movie to lend his Austrailian accent. And let’s talk about the powerhouses! Geoffrey Rush as the crazy old Ezylryb, and he was eccentric and wonderful as Barbossa himself. Sam Neill, that dinosaur hunting bastard. What an expansive cast!
So, combine that amazing talent with the LITERALLY MOST RIDICULOUS COMPUTER GRAPHICS AND VISUAL EXPERIENCE OF MY LIFE. Let’s roll back time for a bit and return to 2011 in which I could see this movie in theaters, front row, 3-D. This is just one of those missed experiences that most kick themselves for. Soren rolling through the rain, the beautifully coreographed airborne fighting scenes. It’s as if King Leonidas and his Spartans could fly and were doing so in amazing HD slow motion. Get at me about that idea Snyder. It’s an idea worth pondering.
Who will win in the end?
I’m not sure about the plot. Zoned that out a bit. But who knows, I’m sure the book(s) were wonderful. And that probably attributed for a great, formulaic children’s movie. Simple and easy to follow. Journey, battle, heroes. It kept me interested and I’m sure, no matter the age, it would speak to all of our inner children. So check it out, even if you don’t feel like being childish. Watch it because it will blow your eyes out with its amazing look. That’s all you need to know. A definite 10 out of 10 for visual, 6.2 out of 10 for plot, all around 8.5 out of dat 10.
Alright, I have to tell everyone now that, out of all the genres of anime out there, I am the least fan of magical girl anime. And the prospect of sitting down to watch this anime kind of gave me the willies. The misconceptions on magical girl anime run abound in our society and in Japanese society. Sailor Moon: A bunch of girls transforming without the power to beat the bad guy without the help of Tuxedo Mask. The Powerpuff Girls on Cartoon Network and their original, scarier version of transformation from Powerpuff Girls Z. I mean, come on, those transformations take forever. And the bad guys are a joke. Mojojojo? (I gotta say, Him is the only good bad guy from that series.) But then I was presented a show that completely breaks the stereotype of what exactly defines a magical girl anime, even though it clearly stays in the boundaries… to an extent.
In the town of Mitakihara, there exists a school in which Madoka Kaname, Homura Akemi, and Sayaka Miki, three young middle school students, exist in a world of evil. All around them, evil spirits known as witches cause havoc and chaos in the best way they know how. Murders and suicides. And the only way these beings can be stopped is by the power of the magical girls. And the only way these girls can become magical is through the power of through Kyubey, a creepy cat-like alien that will grant your wish.
Kyubey. Screw that little freak...
And that’s where the twist comes in. After encountering Mami Tomoe, a veteran magical girl who has lived the life of a magical girl, the true weight of just exactly what it means to fight the witches hits them. Sayaka and her love interest clashes with the use of her wish and his disability, and Madoka and her indecision leaves conflict in her wake throughout the show. The ending is slightly confusing, but there is a constant element of danger that is ironically juxtaposed (my least favorite word to use, sorry) against the comically drawn witches of innocence and childish fantasy. It all works out in the end, as expected from a magical girl anime, but not in a way that leaves everyone in a win-win situation. With that breath of fresh air achieved in 12 episodes, an amazing amount of twists and turns are evilly inserted in a short amount of time, really breaking away from what I would consider a bland form of anime into a more interesting one.
You know what caught my eye the most? The animation in relation to the witches. Every time in which the magical girls had to interact with the witches in their world, I was blown away by the different animated styles of the witches. Either crayon colored whimsy or a collage of layered paper, I was intrigued by the clash of anime and art. The fluidity of the two worlds combined was stylistically stimulating.
Some of the more interesting artwork in Madoka Magica.
The pain and anguish behind the show that permeates each episode is something one wouldn’t expect from a livelier, happy form of anime. The choices and decisions of the characters and the secrets they hide from one another leave gaps that none of the characters can cross in order to connect. Not as a
The interesting girls of M.M.
drawback, but more as a connection by separation. Feeling for the characters comes as a challenge for me (especially some of the more fated of characters like Sayaka and and Mami) but one character that stood out with her cruelty and activity was Kyoko Sakura. Although you don’t meet her until later, she’s well worth the wait.
So, all-in-all, Madoka Magica is a quick watch with a lot compiled into its short run. And, in this case, quality over quantity, one of the greatest assets of the anime. With an interesting plot scope and character development (for the most part) with the combination of fate and decision, the magical girl stereotype is effectively squashed. The powers are interesting and the tradeoff is quite good. Never sign the contract, but check this show out. A solid 7.3 out of 10.
This has nothing to do with the show, but it gives you a taste of the anime’s look, with some Suckerpunch 😛