Legend of the Guardians: The Owls of Ga'Hoole

  • Review Date: September 22, 2010
  • Rated: PG
  • Genre: Fantasy
  • Release Year: 2010
  • Running Time: 91 minutes

Common Sense Media says

Sweeping owl fantasy adventure is impressive but intense.
  • Review Date: September 22, 2010
  • Rated: PG
  • Genre: Fantasy
  • Release Year: 2010
  • Running Time: 91 minutes

Age(i)

2
3
4
5
6
7
8
9
10
11
12
13
14
15
16
17

Quality(i)

 

What parents need to know

Educational value

Kids will learn the importance of listening to historical stories and legends, as well as treating others like you'd want to be treated, regardless of their background. Obedience is called into question if it's to a suspect authority, so children may realize that it's sometimes the right thing to act against the rules. Kids interested in nature and animals will learn about a few different species of owls, particularly the Tyto and elf owl -- that they're nocturnal, live in different habitats, and expel pellets of their undigested food.

Positive messages

The movie's overall messages are positive, with the primary take-away being that believing in your dreams is what makes you strong and focused. Another positive message includes the idea that family and friends are more important than the promise of power and strength. The movie also demonstrates the power of myths, defending others, and and standing up to evil. The evil owls are very "species-ist" and think that other owl species are sub-par and meant to be enslaved -- but the Guardians see the worth and contribution of all owls.

Positive role models

Soren is a strong positive role model: He's kind, selfless, and brave. He cares for his friends and family and believes the best of everyone. Gylfie is small but willing to fly away with Soren and later acts bravely despite her diminutive size. Ezylryb sagely explains that war isn't pretty and glorious -- that it's ugly and horrible and should be avoided if possible.

Violence & scariness

Lots of animated violence, confrontations, and battles. The scenes with owl-to-owl combat are dark and often feature extreme slow-motion close-ups. Several owls die -- one falls into fire, and others are killed during combat. It's obvious that the owls are dead or injured, even if there's no blood. The 3-D makes the violence much more intense.

Sexy stuff

A young male owl flirts with a female owl, and married owls embrace a couple of times.

Language

"Hell," plus some insulting, demeaning language about other owls, like "you're weak," "soft," "old," "what a waste," etc.

Consumerism
Not applicable
Drinking, drugs, & smoking
Not applicable

Parents Need to Know

Parents need to know that this 3-D adaptation of Kathryn Lasky's best-selling Legend of the Guardians books is more intense and violent than most animated adventures -- even though the characters are all owls. The movie focuses on the conflict between a group of owls that considers themselves a master race entitled to enslave "lower species" of owls and the Guardians, a hidden group of warriors that fights to defend all owls from evil. With such a heavy plot and many action-packed battle sequences, this isn't age-appropriate for all young children. But kids old enough to read the books and mature enough to handle the themes will benefit from the movie's message that all owls (and therefore people) are worthy, not just those whom one group thinks are better than the rest. Note: The 3-D factor makes many of the movie's battle/fight scenes much more intense.

Parents say

Kids say

What's the story?

Based on Kathryn Lasky's fantasy book series, LEGEND OF THE GUARDIANS follows young Tyto owlet Soren (voiced by Jim Sturgess), who loves his father's tales about the Guardians of Ga'Hoole, a legendary band of warriors that protects the owl kingdom from danger. But his brother, Kludd (Ryan Kwanten), thinks the stories are just silly fantasies. One day the brothers are kidnapped by two menacing owls that take them to the faraway lair of Metalbeak (Joel Edgerton), the "Pure One" who believes that the Tyto owls are supreme to all other owl species. Soren and his new elf-owl friend, Gylfie (Emily Barclay), are taught how to fly by a resistance-fighting owl who tells them that the Guardians are real and that Soren and Gylfie must warn them about Metalbeak's plans to rule the owl kingdom. With help from Twilight (Anthony LaPaglia), a "warrior-poet" Great Gray Owl; Digger (David Wenham), a jittery Burrowing Owl; and Mrs. P. (Miriam Margolyes), the friends fly to the Tree of Ga'Hoole to train and eventually fight as Guardians.

Is it any good?

QUALITY
 

The collaboration between director Zack Snyder and Animal Logic, the Australian effects and animation company responsible for Happy Feet, has yielded a visually stunning animated film that, despite featuring animal characters, will appeal to tweens and teens. With many 3-D movies, the glasses feel like an unnecessary accessory, but here the technology is used artistically and imaginatively. The extreme close-ups and slow-motion shots are impressive, as are the intense moments that focus on a single feather, an eye, a claw. It's stylized action reminiscent of Snyder's 300 -- without all the blood and gore.

Soren's story is compelling and original -- even as it will remind you of many other heroes' journeys. There are so many layers to the plot -- from sibling rivalry (Kladd stays behind) to hero worship (Geoffrey Rush plays the wise legendary warrior that Soren idolizes) to family loyalty to political intrigue. It's obvious from the movie's ending that the filmmakers would love to make more films in the series, which is always a gamble -- but this story is in-depth enough and the visuals so captivating that it wouldn't be unwelcome.

Families can talk about...

  • Families can talk about the movie's overall message about owl equality. How does that translate into human culture? Is it ever right for a group to decide that they should be served by others?

  • How does the movie's violence compare to that in other animated movies you've seen? Is it more or less scary because the characters are animals? Why?

  • For kids who've read the books, how does the movie compare? Were the changes understandable, or did they impact how much you enjoyed the movie?

  • How does Soren's journey remind you of other cinematic heroes, like Frodo, the Pevensie children, or even Harry Potter?

Movie details

Theatrical release date:September 24, 2010
DVD release date:December 17, 2010
Cast:Abbie Cornish, Helen Mirren, Hugo Weaving, Ryan Kwanten
Director:Zack Snyder
Studio:Warner Bros.
Genre:Fantasy
Topics:Magic and fantasy, Adventures, Book characters, Wild animals
Run time:91 minutes
MPAA rating:PG
MPAA explanation:some sequences of scary action

This review of Legend of the Guardians: The Owls of Ga'Hoole was written by

About our rating system

  • ON: Content is age-appropriate for kids this age.
  • PAUSE: Know your child; some content may not be right for some kids.
  • OFF: Not age-appropriate for kids this age.
  • NOT FOR KIDS: Not appropriate for kids of any age.

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Quality

Our star rating assesses the media's overall quality.

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Learning ratings

  • Best: Really engaging, great learning approach.
  • Very Good: Engaging, good learning approach.
  • Good: Pretty engaging, good learning approach.
  • Fair: Somewhat engaging, okay learning approach.
  • Not for Learning: Not recommended for learning.
  • Not for Kids: Not age-appropriate for kids; not recommended for learning.

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What parents and kids say

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Kid, 12 years old April 13, 2011
AGE
8
QUALITY
 
this movie is awesome!
What other families should know
Great messages
Great role models
Parent of a 8 year old Written bymattsdad September 20, 2010
AGE
10
QUALITY
 

A war movie for kids?

Yes, it's got fluffy looking, beautifully rendered owls but make no mistake it's a movie about war and has long, intense scenes. I would have preferred a bit more character development and a little less action for my son. As with many movies, I am left wondering who the target audience for this movie is. Kids over the age of 14 aren't going to see "a movie about owls" and children under 10 are going to find themselves exposed to war themes and scenes.
What other families should know
Too much violence
Great messages
Great role models
Kid, 12 years old September 26, 2010
AGE
10
QUALITY
 

a bit violent

It was inspiring, but a bit violent for a kids movie. If you make the owls humans a not animated it would be rated R.
What other families should know
Too much violence
Great role models

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