Legend of the Guardians: The Owls of Ga'Hoole (2010)
I've wanted to see this movie since the first time I saw the trailer, which was at Shrek 4. I've said it before, and I'll say it again: It is amazing to me what they can do in a cartoon. The graphics were fantastic! It was originally done in 3D, but we don't have a 3D TV, but it was still visually stunning.
The story line was pretty predictable, but that's par for the course in a children's story. It was a little dark, and the bats were a little creepy (but bats ARE creepy!), but the 4 year old didn't get nightmares.
The main character, Soren, is a young owl who believes in the legends of the guardians. He hero worships them, and then gets the chance to meet them. I really liked how when he does meet them, they don't glorify war. In a lot of cartoons, the notion is: we have to fight to live, and that's the way it is, only the bad guys die. In this one, it was like: we have to fight to live, but it's not wonderful. Owls die and get hurt, both good and bad. Plus, the whole notion of having to fight a family member blurred the lines. BUT, the fight scenes were still pretty cool. I need an owl with metal claws or swords on his feet!
The bad owls were totally evil bad guys. They were great representatives of the Nazi regime, spewing forth their "superior race" ideals. The only thing I didn't really buy was the traitor in the Guardians' ranks. The film didn't set up the character enough to explain why he was willing to turn on his friends. In fact, the film didn't really give motivations or depth for any of the characters.
Soren's brother is unhappy and feels like Soren gets all of the attention, but his parents were still pretty loving and supportive. His turn to the dark side needed more explanation, it wasn't plausible. However, it was a kids' movie, and I'm sure kids don't look too deeply into that kind of stuff, so it worked for them. And who knows, maybe the books delve more deeply into that.
The 4 year old seemed to like it too, but he didn't ask to watch it again, so he only kinda liked it. If he really liked it, we would have watched it 4 more times! I would like to see it again just for all the little nuances. The 2 year old got kind of loud in some parts, so I couldn't hear the dialogue. It was an enjoyable movie, and I'd watch it again, but I doubt I'll find the time!