Legend of the Guardians: The Owls of Ga'Hoole (2010)

Genres - Fantasy  |   Sub-Genres - Animal Picture, Fantasy Adventure  |   Release Date - Sep 24, 2010 (USA - 3D), Sep 24, 2010 (USA - IMAX 3D)  |   Run Time - 97 min.  |   Countries - Australia , United States   |   MPAA Rating - PG
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In the mad-for-3D craze that gripped Hollywood in the wake of Avatar, so many films rushed to cash in on the trend that audiences were bound to suffer some fatigue. Zack Snyder's animated adventure tale Legend of the Guardians: The Owls of Ga'Hoole offers up a single example for how 21st century 3D could disappear as quickly as 1950s 3D did.

The story concerns a young owl named Soren who, after being kidnapped by a group of fascistic owls known as the Pure Ones, escapes his captors to join the fabled Guardians of Ga'Hoole, an elite squadron of brave owls who make it their life's work to battle the Pure Ones and keep the bravest and best elements of all owldom alive and well.

It's hard to find much to say about this standard-issue hero's journey story, other than it hits all the familiar story points -- including the obligatory training montage set to a catchy pop tune -- with as little surprise or creativity imaginable. However, the films' state-of-the-art visual effects will stick with viewers. The 3D effects enhance the feeling of flying as the owls soar and dive through what seem like interminable chase and fight sequences. For at least 30 minutes or so, the vertiginous drops and crisp night skies are a visual feast -- these are the kind of rare special effects that really are special.

Sadly, all the swooping camera moves can't make up for the pedestrian storylines and characterizations, and eventually the novelty wears off. That's what makes this movie representative of the 21st century 3D trend -- it's a microcosm of what very well may happen if filmmakers and producers continue to rely on gimmicks instead of the timeless traits associated with good storytelling.