— by CAM SMITH —
Zack Snyder is one of the more intriguing big-budget filmmakers working today; an unabashed visual stylist who isn’t remotely afraid to take huge, expensive gambles and risk considerable brutal back-lash.
While many, including myself, find his approach to action and cinematic storytelling refreshingly inventive and viscerally exciting, a large vocal minority has — in the wake of the lukewarm critical and box-office response to “Watchmen” — gleefully written him off as a tired one-trick pony and irately labelled him (incorrectly) as a hack.
Although we’ll have to wait until 2011 before his next live-action ass-kicker — the trippy female-driven insane asylum epic “Sucker Punch” — hits theatres and offers a true chance for redemption, attention-grabbing news emanating from the Hollywood Reporter’s Heat Vision blog has just hit the interwebs regarding another Snyder-ific project which will no doubt add further fuel to his detractors’ fires.
For some time, the director has been quietly working away on a CG-animated effort entitled “Guardians of Ga’hoole,” based on the first three instalments of the popular children’s book series written by Kathryn Lasky and illustrated by Richard Chowder, which follows the thrilling adventures of a heroic young barn-owl named Soren who escapes an evil orphanage dedicated to brainwashing his avian brethren into militaristic warriors. Yikes.
Now Snyder has added a few impeccable — and Australian — voice-actors to his already impressive team roster, with Sam Neill, Geoffrey Rush, David Wenham and Hugo Weaving joining previously attached talents Abbie Cornish (who’s also on-board for “Sucker Punch”), Helen Mirren, Jim Sturgess, Emilie de Ravin, Emily Barclay, Miriam Margolyes, Ryan Kwanten and Jay Laga’aia.
That’s a heck of a cast, and I’ll be really curious to see how Snyder’s characteristic flair for speed-ramped, giant-sized spectacle and slick’n cool imagery translates to the animated kiddie-flick medium.
And with artistic duties being handled by ultra-capable hands at Animal Logic, the production company which rode a cute little penguin to Oscar gold in 2007 for “Happy Feet,” the results guarantee to at least be real purty-looking.
Distributed by Warner Bros. And Village Roadshow Picture, “Guardians of Ga’hoole” is scheduled for release on Sept. 24, 2010.
Follow Cam Smith on Twitter at http://twitter.com/camspcepisodes.