Imagine if you will, a ninety minute fantasy film that managed to recreate the essense of the Lord of the Rings films. There is a young protagonist who must embark on a long and perilous journey. He has a network of friends that will give him guidance and support. There is an evil army that wants to conquer the land. A legendary legion of warriors will help defend it in an epic large scale battle. A great betrayal occurs and there is a bloody feud between families. And there is a half baked romance that only gets a little bit of screen time to fit in all the other stuff.
Zack Synder not only delivers all of these elements in a well constructed all-ages fantasy film but he also manages to do so in a story that has one last improbable twist: the bulk of the characters are owls.
This might sound a little bit ridiculous, and it is, but it is also a considerable logistical challenge for the animators to navigate. The screenplay calls for the characters to browse through passages in books, forge armour out of steel and use door handles. This can be done easily enough if the cast was filled with anthropomorphic creatures that have arms and hands but Synder doesn’t cheat by having the owls use their wings in this fashion. Instead they all contort their bodies so that their talons do all the work. It’s like they’ve taken the most bizarre and convoluted premise for a story but decided to be true to it as possible. Every physical action performed by an owl in this movie could hypothetically be done by the real thing.
So why owls in the first place? I’d love to know. I’ll make a point to track down the DVD one day if it has some special features that interview the creators. I’m convinced Snyder lost a bet and was forced to produce a film based on the most preposterous concept a coked up Hollywood producer could think of. And yet, against all odds, Legend of the Guardians is an entertaining, albeit deeply silly movie.