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
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.
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
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.
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
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.
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.
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.
And here’s that dope trailer.