‘Guardians’ simple and predictable

By Larissa Gula

“Legend of the Guardians: The Owls of Ga’Hoole”

Starring: Jim Sturgess and Emily… “Legend of the Guardians: The Owls of Ga’Hoole”

Starring: Jim Sturgess and Emily Barclay

Director: Zack Snyder

Studio: Warner Bros. Pictures: Village Roadshow Pictures/Animal Logic

Grade: B-

3-D has become Hollywood’s newest flashy technology, drawing in crowds with the promise of something beautiful to look at. But the visuals in a film cannot promise a good story.

Fortunately, “Legend of the Guardians: The Owls of Ga’Hoole” stands as a complete story on its own, and its 3-D visuals only add to the movie. The movie follows the typical underdog-becomes-a-hero story, except that all the main characters are owls. It’s loosely based on a novel series by Kathryn Lasky, and the film combines the plot of three out of her 15 novels.

“Guardians” tells the story of a young barn owl named Soren. He grew up listening to the tales about the Guardians of Ga’Hoole, a group of owl warriors who once saved the land from a power-hungry gang known as the Pure Ones.

Overnight, Soren, his brother Kludd and other owlets are captured and taken from their peaceful home by surviving Pure Ones. They are told they are orphans who will be raised into soldiers, and any who do not accept the new law and are ungrateful enough to turn away their new family are made into slaves.

Soren and new friend Gylfie manage to learn how to fly and escape with the help of one Pure One who was forced into working for the cause to save his family. However, Soren’s brother embraces the law of his captors and exceeds as a soldier in their ranks. Soren seeks out the Guardians’ home at the Great Tree, collecting followers as he travels and searches for something of which he has no proof but still believes exists.

Throughout the film, audiences should be prepared to enter a fantasy land. Here, owls can harness fire, wear masks, carry weapons and use magic found in metal to trap their enemies. The Guardians come off as knights, fighting the evil in the land and living by an honor code — not living for the glory but fighting because it is their duty. Loyalty is respected, sacrifice is necessary and doing the right thing rewards the just.

The soundtrack contributes to the image of evil taking over the land. With the exception of one song by Owl City, most of the score lacks in lyrics and captures the feeling of going into battle and fighting an enemy, even when weak and supposedly helpless.

There is a blatant idea that the power-hungry Pure Ones, who believe in survival of the fittest and enslaving the weak to do their bidding, are flat out wrong. And almost every character that comes into contact with the enemy is corrupted, except for the dreamer Soren. All things considered, this movie is darker than expected, launching straight from a peaceful land into a terrifying tyrannical culture.

And it can’t be avoided: The visuals are stunning. The team that worked on “Happy Feet” was brought in for this film, and it seems its past experience animating birds benefited this new film. There are elegant, detailed close-ups of feathers and rain, stark definitions in objects and fantastic backgrounds enhanced by 3-D. The colors are vibrant and the lighting and shading work perfectly to set the tone and mood.

Guardians is simple, enjoyable fun: It’s predictable, but beautiful, telling a story that has been told time and again because people love to hear it and love to retell it. There are sure to be sequels, and with work and luck they will be as enjoyable as — and perhaps even better than — this film.