“Legend of the Guardians” looks about as close to epic as a cartoon can get. The digital animation is gorgeous; even viewed on a computer screen in low resolution, it crackles with color, depth and atmosphere. I imagine it’ll be a visual feast on the big screen.
Even more noteworthy — at least for me — is the film’s restrained use of what I’ll call the “goofy talking animal factor.” You can find one in virtually every modern kids’ movie with talking animals — the goofy, if lovable, token, comic-relief fur-ball.
Sometimes these rocks-for-brains sidekicks are used sparingly, but most modern kiddie filmmakers don’t seem to believe in “a little goes a long way.” Director Zack Snyder — at least in this clip — seems firmly in touch with the concept and “Guardians” comes across strikingly majestic and grandiose as a result.
That fact should come as little surprise, really, considering Snyder’s resume. With a list of comic-book-adapted credits that includes “Watchmen,” “300,” the upcoming “Sucker Punch” and the soon-to-begin production “300” prequel “Xerxes,” the biggest surprise might be that Snyder’s dipping into family fare.
From the animation, to the sense of scope and the soundtrack music, everything in “Legend of the Guardians” seems to work. With its shades of “The Lord of Rings” and other big-screen epics, coupled with biblical overtones and Snyder’s comic book sensibilities, I wouldn’t be surprise if this children’s quest story transcends its genre to become one of 2010’s sleeper hits (only quote me on that, please, if it turns out I’m right).
“Guardians” also offers a treat for “Looney Tunes” fans in the form of a new pre-feature Road Runner/Wile E. Coyote cartoon. So don’t be late to your screening.
Based on a series of children’s books by Kathryn Lasky and voiced by Jim Sturgess, Geoffrey Rush, Helen Mirren, Sam Neill, Hugo Weaving and Emilie de Ravin, “Legend of the Guardians: The Owls of Ga’Hoole” swoops into theaters Sept. 24.
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