Based on the books by Kathryn Lasky, this film is a funny old beast. To look at the poster you would expect a cutsie family film with plenty of comic relief but a quick look at the details reveals the director is a certain Zack Snyder. That is the same Zack Snyder who directed Watchmen, 300, the remake of Dawn of the Dead and Sucker Punch.
So, in effect, what we have here is an attempt to do an epic movie in the style of Lord Of The Rings only all in CGI and with owls instead of people. The story follows a young owl who sets out to rescue his little sister from an evil army of owls by seeking out the assitance of the legendary Guardian owls. His older brother, meanwhile, is seduced by the power and might of the evil army and the two brothers end up on opposing sides of the conflict.
Anyone with a passing familiarity with the fantasy genre will get a sense of deja vu about the plot. While it might not break new grounds, it still feels quite innovative in what is essentially a family annimated film. The battle scenes are surprisingly dark with owls going to war wearing steel claws and the story of the siblings is genuinely moving and touching.
The animation is so detailed and stunning that at times you have to keep reminding yourself that this is not a real film. There is also a fantastic cast providing voices including a demonic turn from Helen Mirren and Hugo Weaving bringing depth to his part.
Unfortunately, the film lets itself down on the soundtrack. The original score is just too bombastic without any impact. It serves as a joyless, soul-less homage to John Williams (who is great, BTW, don’t complain). Even worse it features a twee, annoying song by the twee, annoying Owl City.
There is no doubt that this is a visual treat and must have been even better in 3D but the film just does not really quite reach into “classic” status. There are some very original aspects of it but at the same time it does also feel like another “multiplex” film, especially with the dreary, irritating, generic soundtrack.
Yet, if you love owls and are not a snob about family films, then it is still well worth seeking out and can even stand up to repeated viewing. Also, as the film is no longer brand new, it can be picked up for bargain prices. On Amazon UK it is currently only a fiver on DVD
and it is currently only £15 for a triple-play blu-ray that has normal blu-ray, 3d blu-ray and a digital copy which isn’t bad at all.