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Now in our eleventh calendar year!
PCR #548 (Vol. 11, No. 39). This edition is for the week of September 20--26, 2010.

This Week's PCR
Movie Review
"Legend of the Guardians: The Owls of Ga'Hoole"

Movie review by:
Michael A. Smith

Movies are rated 0 to 4 stars

theater seats

"Legend of the Guardians: The Owls of Ga'Hoole"  by Mike Smith
The Fabulous Architecture of the Tampa Bay Region, Part 12  by William Moriaty
Dark Night of the Scarecrow  by ED Tucker
September Album reviews: Weezer,Interpol, The Walkmen, and Boston Spaceships!  by Terence Nuzum
Pop Culture Potpourri: Anniversaries R Us ... R.I.P. Luna Vachon  by Lisa Scherer
Battle Royale  by Jason Fetters
You Say It's My Birthday .... Hate To Say I Told You So (no I Don't) .... The Big 5-o .... Where Was Matt? .... .... .... .... .... Mike's Record Shelf  by Mike Smith

Warner Brothers     
Starring: The Voices of: Jim Sturgess, Hugo Weaving and Emily Barclay
Directed by: Zack Snyder
Rated: PG
Running Time: 1 hour 30 mins

Have you ever sat in a movie and wondered if you’re in the right theatre? I mean just sat and starred at the screen and said to yourself, “Wait a minute?" I’ve done it before. Example? “Star Wars: Episode One.” I walked out and said to a friend “are you sure George Lucas directed “American Graffiti” and “Star Wars?” Here’s a few more: Every movie John Carpenter has made after “They Live;” Darren Aronofsky and “The Fountain” (though he did re-cover nicely with “The Wrestler). Heck, even though I worship at the altar of Steven Spielberg, I think “Hook” sucks! So when I found out that Zack Snyder, the director of “300” and “Watchmen” had directed “Legend of the Guardians” I sat back and watched but soon I got to thinking…who really DID direct “300?”

Somewhere in the forest there lived a family of owls. Soren (Sturgess) has listened often to his father’s stories about the “Guardians of Ga’Hoole” and their epic battle against the “Pure Ones” to save the owl kingdom. While Soren and his sister, Eglantine, put on leaf helmets and play “Guardian” their older brother, Kludd, scoffs at both his siblings and the Legend. While out practicing their flying (called branching) the two brothers end up on the forest floor, their young wings not yet strong enough to take them back up to their nest. Suddenly they find themselves in the talons of unfamiliar owls and are soon taken to St. Aegolius Academy where they, and the other owls brought there with them, are told they are now orphans. They are told they can either be “pickers” or soldiers. Kludd likes the soldier idea. Good move. Soren and his new buddy Gylfie (Barclay), are assigned to be pickers. Of pellets. Which means they have to sift through the already digested carcasses of dead mice, the aforementioned pellets, and look for “flecks,” little pieces of metal. Why a mouse has metal on him I have no idea. Anyway, the flecks are used to attract the bats that live in the caves with the leaders of the Pure Ones and…..right about here is where I started to think of words that rhyme with Ga’Hoole? I’m going to go with Phooey! Especially when one of the mentor owls tells Soren that he has two ways to address things. He can use his head or he can “use his gizzard.” “Use your gizzard, Soren.” Now I know why the story sounded so familiar. I liked it 33 years ago when it was called “Star Wars.” And JUST “Star Wars.” Not the whole “Episode Four: A New Hope,” but “Star Wars,” which apparently WAS directed by George Lucas.

I have not read the book series the film is based on. There are 15 such tomes and I’m sure they are great children’s entertainment. But how can you take a story, or a series of stories, that feature creatures that fly and make such a slow moving film? And even worse, a film that doesn’t know what it wants to be? Is it a comedy? Lines about young owls having “day-mares” while sleeping are funny. Also funny is a pair of “Guardian” owls whose conversation comes off like something from a Monty Python skit. Is it an anti-war film? There is a lot of talk about war being bad. But that talk seems out of place with the violent battle that takes place among the owls, both good and evil. It is the battle that seems to be the only reason Zack Snyder signed on to direct. Looking like an all-Owl version of “300,” the film only comes alive during the last reel. Of course, since the film is rated PG I’m not sure what message it’s trying to send. These owls wear razor sharp blades on their talons. Their battle helmets, apparently forged by some metal-smith with tiny, tiny tools have sharpened beaks. Heck, one owl gets impaled on a smoldering stick. But there is no blood…no charred “owl kabob” to let the youngsters in the audience know that war has consequences.

On the bright side, if there is one, the film features some outstanding animation and 3-D effects. The feathers on the various owls (there are over 130 different species of owls on the planet, and most of them seem to make an appearance in the film) flutter smoothly in the breeze and the aerial scenes, featuring some great contrasting images as the owls fly over oceans, are very impressive. But pretty pictures do not a good movie make (I’m looking at YOU, “Avatar.”) And “Legends of the Guardians” is not a good movie.

On a scale of zero to four stars I give “Legends of the Guardians: The Owls of Ga’Hoole”


To comment on this or any other PCR article, please visit The Message Board. This week's movie review of "Legend of the Guardians: The Owls of Ga'Hoole" is ©2010 by Michael A. Smith.  All graphics this page are creations of Nolan B. Canova, ©2010, all rights reserved. All contents of "Nolan's Pop Culture Review" are ©2010 by Nolan B. Canova.