‘The Owls of Ga’Hoole’ Are No Hoot

“They’re making a movie about Hedwig?!” was my friend’s reaction to the trailer for “Legend of the Guardians: The Owls of Ga’Hoole.” I’m sure all of you fellow Harry Potter fans would agree – that would be a movie worth seeing. That, however, is not what this movie is about.

My reaction to the trailer for this movie was slightly different. I thought it looked like a good story. A story that would make an intense and thrilling movie – if it was about people. So why owls?

The movie was based on the first three books of the fifteen-book series “Guardians of Ga’Hoole,” by Kathryn Lasky. Besides the necessity of having owls as the main characters in order to make a faithful movie representation of the book series, the use of owls made the movie more interesting in a few ways.

This movie latched on to the 3-D bandwagon, and made use of quite a few 3-D gimmicks while the owls soared through the air, and feathers headed directly toward the viewer’s face. However, the frequent flying-through-the-air montages might have gotten old quickly for the unlucky viewers not watching in 3-D.

Because the characters were owls, the distinct sound of an Owl City song that popped up in the background caught my attention, and made me, along with a few other viewers in the theatre, smile.

The writers also took advantage of the absurdity of the owl characters; Digger, a burrowing owl, is given many owl jokes to accompany the flying-through-the-air montages. While some of the younger members of the audience thought these were a hoot, the jokes fell flat for many of the older crowd.

Despite these somewhat amusing aspects, the overall movie ended up producing the same mixed feelings as the trailer.

The use of owls failed the movie in a few ways. For example, it is hard to depict a fluffy bird as a warrior without it coming off as merely comical rather than intense. In these scenes, the owls were a distraction from the seriousness and emotion of the plot. Because of this, the storyline was not as effective as it could have been with human characters, for example. At times, it came across as if the movie was trying to be taken more seriously than the viewers would allow.

Along with difficulty in believing the plot with the use of owl characters, the personalities of these owls were at times unrealistic, and lacked development throughout the story. Although much time was supposed to pass from the beginning to the end of the movie – with some moments making the movie seem like it should be a coming-of-age story – the characters maintained the same personalities and levels of maturity from the beginning to the end of the movie.

The producers might have bitten off more than they could chew in attempting to condense three books into one movie. Consequently, this ended up being the biggest problem with the movie.

Trying to fit in so much into an hour and a half did not allow for proper character and relationship development. For example, main characters Soren and Gylfie become best friends within mere seconds of first seeing each other.

Although the audience could tell that they were now friends and were going to stick together, it was confusing as to why. To a viewer who had not read the original book series, this came off as a poorly developed aspect of the plot. This is just one of the many problems caused by condensing three books into one movie.

Making individual movies for each book would have allowed for better character, relationship and plot development, which would have made for a more believable and moving story overall.

This movie did, however, allow for a slightly different adaptation of the movie plot we’ve all seen hundreds of times: siblings in competition, one turns good, the other turns evil, they end up facing each other in a larger battle with more meaning than their childhood sibling rivalries, and the good prevails in the end. This time, however, the siblings were owls. The result was a confusing yet mildly entertaining hour and a half – but certainly not an Oscar nominee.