I’ve been kind of lax in my reviewing of late (because I haven’t seen anything that wasn’t over a month old)… so here’s a link to my reviewing scale just as a refresher. Check that crap out.
Now that that’s out of the way, we’ll get a few other things out of the way: The Guardians of Ga’hoole is a book series for children. They’re like 3rd-grade reading level chapter books, the kind of thing you give a kid who’s too young for Harry Potter, but too old for the Berenstain Bears. (I haven’t spoken the words “Berenstain Bears” in over 10 years, and now it feels simultaneously strange and familiar on my tongue.) So here’s what we’re getting out of the way:
1. The books were better.
2. If you enjoy pretty things, this movie will make you poop.
When I first saw the preview for this movie, I was dazzled. The pretty flying scenes coupled with the epic music gave me shivers. They put those trailers together RIGHT. Way to go. After that, I did my research and found out about the book series: there’s like 15 of them. The movie is apparently based on the first 3 books, so I got them from the library (venturing for the first time in years into the “Children’s Section”), and devoured them in a weekend at work.
They’s good books. If I were in the 3rd grade, I’d be all over that, but I’m not, so I trudged through the poop-jokes and got into the deeper narrative about a war between the good owls (the Allied Powers) and the bad owls (the Nazis). Epic stuff for a 3rd grade book.
Fast forward to last night when I watched the movie: they hit the important bits. All the characters are there, even if they don’t get the same amount of “screen” time that they did in the books. They combined two of the Guardian’s enemies into the same faction, something that I totally understand for reasons of time. In fact, every change they made, I completely “get” the reasoning behind (except for this weird echidna-oracle thing, he seemed kind of pointless). The two things I wish would have been different were the training montage and the credits.
I hate training montages. I think they’re the reason America is so fat: because we’ve been watching the heroes in movies go from weak-to-fighting-shape in a five-minute musical montage since we were born, but that’s another blog post entirely. More time spent on their training would have been awesome. As for the credits, it’s like this shadow-puppet paper-owl thing that makes the owls look clumsy and stiff and stupid, which is such a weird feeling after seeing them become excellent fliers and arial acrobats.
This movie could have been better, but examples like The Golden Compass, Percy Jackson and the Olympians, The Legend of the Seeker (or whatever that movie was called), they show how crappy these adaptations can be. This is not a crappy adaptation. It could have been better, yes. But it could have been a whole lot worse.
And, on the extremely positive side, this film is completely beautiful to behold. I got to watch it for the frees, but the next time I get a few hours I’m going to go someplace nice with 3D glasses and gladly pay to see it.
Oh, one more thing: the band/solo music artist Owl City is part of the soundtrack. I groaned.
It’s a good song, but it plays during the movie when there should have been epic orchestral music or something, and this guy with his synthesizers just took me completely out of it.