Legend of the Guardians: The Owls of Ga’Hoole

tn_gahooleThere’s this new movie about owls, directed by Zack Snyder. Turns out it’s based on a series of children’s books called “Guardians of Ga’Hoole.” Warner Brothers didn’t want to use that title because they were worried nobody would know what “Ga’Hoole” meant. And it’s true, because to me it sounds like Ga’Hoole must be either a) the place where these “Guardians” are from, or b) a place that they guard, and they’re from some other place. It’s definitely one of those two options, but I don’t know for sure which one, so obviously that’s a huge, huge communication problem there, I’d just get so confused I’d never be able to watch the movie.

So they came up with the title LEGEND OF THE GUARDIANS. Completely generic and bland, not descriptive at all, almost sounds like a made up title. Perfect! But after the first trailer came out they must’ve got a call from the Weinsteins saying come on you pricks, you can’t use a generic title like that, we need that to rename a Jet Li movie. You can’t fuck us like this, do you know who we are? We own this fucking town! We did SHAKESPEARE IN LOVE. You don’t know who you’re fucking with you little pissants! Also the Dragon Dynasty series of DVDs, we did those also! We will crush you and make somebody else wipe you up, and then we will pointedly undertip them for their efforts! FUCK YOU WARNER BROTHERS YOU CAN’T DO THIS TO ME.

So Warner Brothers is like oh shit, those guys did the SCARY MOVIE series, they mean business. So they added the subtitle “The Owls of Ga’Hoole,” so we know now Ga’Hoole must be a place where some owls live, at least according to legend. That makes the full title LEGEND OF THE GUARDIANS: THE OWLS OF GA’HOOLE: THE 3-D IMAX EXPERIENCE. Which is a mouthful of a title for a movie everybody is obviously gonna just call OWL 300.

mp_gahooleOWL 300 is a computer animated fantasy adventure in the world of owls. There are no humans or signs of civilization in the movie, just talking animals. There’s a snake, an echidna, some bats and a couple other beasts, but mostly all types and sizes of owls.

The lead owl, Soren, and his dickish brother Claude, are practicing flying one night (like 15 year olds trying to drive in a parking lot after the mall is closed) when they fall out of the tree and almost get eaten by some dingos or something. The hungry animals get fought off by some big mean blood-stained owls. I thought it was some guys rescuing them but then it turns out no, it’s fuckin owlnappers. These owls are part of a band of marauders going around stealing young owls to use for slave labor. They take them real far away where they will work for “the Pure Ones,” led by the Evil Queen Nyra and the accurately named Metal Beak.

I don’t think I ever saw an owl movie before, this might be my first one, so I went in wondering how they were gonna deal with the pellet issue. Are they gonna tell the kids that owls eat mice and then puke up their bones and fur in neat little bundles? The answer is “yes” and furthermore “right at the very beginning” and as a followup I would like to add “their slave labor involves sitting in a mine picking apart owl pellets looking for little specks of metal that were eaten by the mice that are now added to a pile that creates some sort of supernatural magnetic force that controls owls’s gizzards (?).” I didn’t read the books but the important thing is it looks cool.

Claude gets picked to be a soldier, but Soren and his new little girl friend Gylfie gotta pick through the owl puke. Which is totally for the birds, in my opinion. (no pun intended, I had no idea that was gonna happen.) But they manage to resist being “moonblinked,” some type of zombification process done in owl society, and are taken under the wing (figuratively, although there is literally a wing) of a fucked up old soldier owl who wants to defeat these guys from within, Operation Valkyrie style. He helps them escape with instructions on how to get to Ga’Hoole, where the Guardians reside, and which it turns out is a huge tree.

The owls that live there are legendary but not a myth. They wear helmets (like a knight, not like a bicyclist) and some of them have metal claws and shit and they know how to sword fight even, which is weird to do with your feet but I’m not gonna insult their culture.

The only real shitty part of the movie is right here there’s a montage where the owls go through 36 chambers type training in combat, metal shop, etc. It might be an interesting part of the story not to rush through in a montage, but oh well. The bad part is the out-of-the-blue pop song with those type of vocals one could only intend to be heard by children, like in an advertisement for some candy or cheese product that only airs during the cartoons. I mean, just fucking awful. You just want to find out who recorded this song (24 year old Adam Young, aka “Owl City”, according to wikipedia), knock on his door and when he answers you just stand there with your arms folded and shake your head. And he’s like “What?” and you say “You know.” And he doesn’t say anything because he can’t lie. He knows. And you walk away and he tries to yell out “I’m sorry! I’m sorry, all right! Are you happy?” but you’re long gone. And then he goes back into his house which is really nice and fully paid for and I go back to my little apartment that I rent and sometimes the radiator won’t turn off during the summer and won’t turn on during the winter.

The funny thing is I don’t have kids, I should rightfully be able to live my life free of Radio Disney and Hanna Banana and all this, I should not even have to know about this shit. But then I willingly go see a PG-rated movie just because it has owl fights. I mean I should’ve known owl fights are not the same as cockfights. It’s more wholesome. This is a kids movie, of course I might be exposing myself to “To the Sky” by Owl City. I gotta take responsibility for these type of lifestyle decisions. So I’m not blaming Owl City, I’m just saying jesus Owl City. I don’t get you, man. I really don’t.

Some of the elements of this thing are a little undercooked, still a little gooey on the inside which might taste kind of good but there might be some raw egg in there so you wanna be careful, you don’t wanna get the shits. What I mean by this overly detailed metaphor is that the characters are decent but not great, the mythology is a little underexplained and gets confusing, and it made sense when I read that it was 3 different books simplified into 1 movie form. But none of this mattered too much to me and I must credit Mr. Zack Snyder with putting all of his talents to good use.

If you forgot the name this is the guy who did the remake of DAWN OF THE DEAD (enjoyable although empty action spin on untouchable masterpiece), 300 (stylish and refreshingly macho although I questioned why he wasn’t interested in the obvious political implications of that story during war time) and then WATCHMEN (impressive and ambitious although it kind of flops over and dies at the end). I think with movie #4 here I’m really able to forgive whatever misgivings I have with his lack of substance and really appreciate his obvious excitement for the material and his knack for the cinematic. I mean this is a movie about cartoon owls that you immediately know is by the same director who did those three hard-R violent live action movies I just mentioned.

The animation is done by the Australian effects company that did HAPPY FEET for George Miller. (I hope for their next one they’ll get John Woo to do a story about doves who live in churches.) Like HAPPY FEET it’s very realistic, only slightly cartoonified animals, with photorealistic backgrounds. The look is Zack Snyderfied so it’s full of gorgeous sunsets and sunbeams and stormy weather. The battle scenes, which of course use alot of slow motion, are crisper and more thrilling than most action scenes these days in live action. Which isn’t saying that much, but still, come on people. You got beat by cartoon owls. Think about it.

Anyway it looks incredible because some poor Australian had to sit and adjust every muscle, every feather of these owls as they lurch at each other, as metal scrapes across metal, screeeeeecccching and shooting sparks.

My favorite things in this movie are two scenes where Soren is flying, once through rain and once through fire. The trademark Zack Snyder slowing down is perfect for showing this little guy’s point of view. Our senses are heightened. We can see every rain drop floating there, because he can feel it all around him, that’s how good he is at flying. Although I would like to see some eyeballs popping out like in FRIDAY THE 13TH 3-D this is also a great use of the technology.

(I gotta say, this is the first time I had a problem with Imax 3-D, there was alot of ghosting in the middle stuff, not close up or far away. I don’t know if it was my eyes or a projection problem or what. When that wasn’t going on it looked amazing though.)

Snyder’s talent is more than just visual. In each of his movies he has a very consistent tone, he has a distinct vision of what he wants and stays very dedicated to it. He doesn’t give a hoot if somebody laughs at him. (that was also not intended, I just say “give a hoot” alot, I’m sure you’ve noticed I use that all the time.) This heroic owl shit might not be the greatest mythology but he stays so serious about it that he kind of tricks me into buying it.

I’ll even give him credit for having a little bit to say in this one. There was a scene I really liked where Soren realizes that Ezylryb (I had to look that up), the old goofball that’s been teaching him to fly better, is the legendary warrior “Lyze of Kiel” (had to look that one up too) who he idolized his whole life for chopping off Metal Beak’s original beak according to the, you know, legends of the Guardians. Instead of being impressed to meet his hero Soren is profoundly disappointed that the bad motherfucker he always heard about is just this ugly old dude. Ezylryb explains that yeah, people who fight in wars look like this, they get clawed in the face and they get fucked up and pathetic. He doesn’t think fighting is heroic. He just thinks it’s what you do when you really have to.

I get the feeling he really means this one, unlike the politics in 300 which he claimed were just people interpreting and not really a message he was trying to get across. If so I think he maybe lost control of the ball a little bit at the end, it leans a little more toward glorifying war than being sad about it. They say he had no choice but to bloodlessly rated-PG impale a guy, but I don’t know if I buy it. Still, there’s stuff to think about here. Snyder may be growing, putting a little more brain into his movies, at least his owl ones. He’s not a genius but I like that he’s out there throwing himself into whatever crazy nerd shit he gets excited about. I’m definitely gonna keep watching.

I guess you could also call it OWLVATAR, but I’m sticking with OWL 300.

This entry was posted on Tuesday, September 28th, 2010 at 2:13 am and is filed under Cartoons and Shit, Fantasy/Swords, Reviews. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed. You can skip to the end and leave a response. Pinging is currently not allowed.

49 Responses to “Legend of the Guardians: The Owls of Ga’Hoole”

  1. Is it scary like Watership Down? The General was one of the most scary characters I ever saw in a kids movie. I watched it on tv not long back and was suprised at how much I shit myself at the sight of a fucking rabbit.

  2. I didn’t know this was directed by Zach Snyder, at first i thought it was a joke, now i want to watch it.

  3. I like Zack Snyder even though I’ve seen two of his movies (yeah, I’ve seen 300, pathetic huh?)

    Dawn of The Dead was a lot of fun and had great energy and Watchmen was pretty much the best adaption someone could possibly do of that comic

    can’t wait for Sucker Punch

  4. fuck, I’m kinda sleepy and I ruined that sentence

    I meant to say “I like Zack Snyder even though I’ve only seen two of his movies (yeah, I’ve never seen 300, pathetic huh?)

  5. good review, lousy film. i’m going to pass and wait for the next pixar film. either that or sucker punch

  6. Are there gonna be other “Legend of the Guardians” movies, with wolves or something, like the “Border Patrol” series?

  7. Snyder’s complete lack of substance really ruined Watchmen. Yes, it looked like the comic, and yes, most of the same things happened, but it’s the subtext that makes the book so great, and it’s just not there in the movie. They’ve been throwing his name around for Superman, but that would be bad too, because the last thing a Superman movie should be is shallow.

    That said, Zack Snyder’s Slow-Mo 3D Owl Fights does sound like a movie I might want to see.

  8. @ Brad Greenspan- Lousy film? So you must have seen it then? But wait, you also said
    “I’m going to pass”? I’m not trying to be controversial but in my humble opinion motherfuckers should watch something before they pass judgment on it. I didn’t go see EAT PRAY LOVE and even though I’m 99% sure it’s a piece of shit I still don’t go around pretending to have an informed opinion about it.

  9. “(I hope for their next one they’ll get John Woo to do a story about doves who live in churches.)”


    sample script

    Doves are peacefully and happily doing what doves do in the rafters of a picturesque church. Three menacing men and their henchmen enter and immediately engage in a mexican standoff.

    Christ! Not again. Why the hell can’t we just find a nice little church, settle down, and live in peace? Why do we have to be bothered every hour by some goddamn bloody massacre?

    The three men and their henchmen proceed to bloodily massacre each other as the doves scramble flapping about trying not to get shot up.

  10. I don’t know. I think the first thing Superman needs is to be exciting. That last Superman movie was boring as shit.

  11. I read the first book, and it was “meh”.

  12. I liked this one; for about an hour or so, it’s possibly the creepiest kids movie I’ve seen since The Dark Crystal or Secret of Nimh. (I’m glad that I knew nothing about it before watching it).

  13. Imagine all the greenscreen wankery Snyder could do if he’s given SUPERMAN.

  14. The AV Club asked Snyder about the seemingly contradictory message that Vern mentioned:

    AVC: Did you see a contradiction there?

    ZS: You know, I don’t personally, because I do believe that message, but I also from a storytelling standpoint enjoy the ballet of battle. So, it’s difficult for me—I do believe that there are consequences to war.

    That seems like the guys problem in a nutshell. I agree with Vern that he has a good sense of the cinematic (I really dug WATCHMEN, but not his two previous films), but it’s like he isn’t aware of, or doesn’t think through, any subtext in his films.

    Not that all films need subtext or a coherent moral statement or whatever, just that Snyder needs to find some projects that don’t require these things. Something with a more streamlined story, or maybe just something really out-there and abstract.


    This is so sad….

  16. Ace Mac Ashbrook, Watership Down scared the shit out of me as a child as well. It haunted me for years. Anytime I see promotional material for this movie I wonder if it could have the same impact on some young kid WD did on me.

  17. Lawrence is right the last Superman was so fucking boring. I don’t think Sups even punched anything or anyone the entire movie, and it had a 2 and a half hour run time. That is just inexcusable.

  18. I think its funny how WB hasn’t been able to make an exciting Superman live-action movie since what, #2 or #1? All those were about 30 years ago?

    Meanwhile, you had that Superman cartoon from the 1990s which had a wonderful balance of Supes’ natural light hearted mood and being serious enough saturday morning adventure pulp. They made Lex Luthor badass, they turned Toyman from a lame Golden Age villain to an intriguing screwy nutcase.

    Hell they were the guys who came up with the so-brilliant-why-didn’t-they-do-that-earlier-idea about Darkseid being Supes’ ultimate archenemy in terms of pure brute strength.

    I think the biggest problem with SUPERMAN RETURNS, among many things, is that the natural angst with Mr. Man of Steel about being the last of his kind, not able to share his situation with anyone else but Ma, all that shit should be in the background where its forever lurking above your shoulder whether directly brought up or not. Not in the forefront like RETURNS, because it then actually becomes less interesting.

  19. RRA, I completely agree. The heavy handed brooding Superman as Jesus subtext in RETURNS really weighs the movie down.

  20. Convincing post. Thanks for it.

  21. This just made me more excited for Happy Feet 2, next year. It’s going to be exciting, if all the things I’ve heard about it and what was cut out of that first movie are true – also, that Miller’s suddenly gone from having one film in a decade to like four in the space of two years, all of a sudden. It’s very exciting stuff.

  22. The subtitle reads like THE OWLS OF GAY HOLE. The jokes will come thick and fast.

  23. Owl City deserves to have Vern show up at his door just for that “ten million fireflies” piece of shit song. Good to know he’s moved on from ruining alternative radio to ruining fighting owl movies.

  24. I’m not going to gain any cool points here, but I’ve been listening to Owl City for a while now. Like, before he became a mainstream success. Like, I actually sought his albums out before there was a marketing campaign saying, “It’s okay to like this stuff.” For whatever reason, he reminds me of Elliott Smith or Conner Oberst’s evil twin who’s all smiles and giggles…and that works for me.

  25. TheFilmist: what have you heard about it? Is it gonna be a crazy unexpectedly fucked up sequel like Babe 2: The Revenge?

  26. The Jack Russell in the wheel chair reduced me to tears in Babe 2: The Revenge.

  27. intresting movie. I read summary and watch trailer. You can find details on Mynet Sinema detail link is here. Legend Of The Guardians - Baykuş Krallığı Efsanesi

  28. I thought this movie would’ve made more money at the box office than it did. Maybe due to the lack of big time celebrity voices? I bet if Mike Myers or Sandra Bullock or whoever voiced some of the owls this would be raking it in.

  29. I’m of the mind that Vern is a little too kind to Snyder. Dawn of the Dead was a mediocre zombie film (it had a great opening, but quickly devolved into dumb horror movie characters doing dumb horror movie stuff), but 300 and The Watchmen were absolute train wrecks. At best 300 is a cheap, laughably bad movie, and at worst its a racist, ahistorical diatribe. The Watchmen was a great example of why merely copying a story from a different medium is not enough for a good adaptation. A director also needs to understand the strengths and weaknesses of both mediums and alter the story accordingly.

  30. anyone read the Redwall books as a kid? just hundreds of pages of mice and rats killing each other in gruesome detail
    and eating feasts

  31. very funny review. love the john woo line.

    this movie was cool, though all in all substance free. but those owl battles. man. so bad ass. i love when he speed ramps the shit out of this stuff and it sloooooooooooows doooooooooooooown and looks epic. Snyder at least knows how to make a fun movie. A fun, gorgeous movie.

  32. The explanation for the title changes got me. Well done!

  33. I love that all the words in the original title still ended up being used, albeit vastly more belabored. They somehow managed to make a title that had the word “Ga’Hoole” in it even more clunky. LotGtOoGH borders on parody. It makes MASTER AND COMMANDER: THE FAR SIDE OF THE WORLD sound elegant and necessary.

  34. Well, there’s a lot of rumors floating around – but, the biggest one is that the giant half-hour long ‘alien’ subplot that was chopped out of the first movie at the last minute is going to be resurrected, which should be pretty interesting, especially considering the context it was apparently rooted in, the first time around. But I mean, that first film was pretty dark already – if Miller wants to one-up himself on that account, there’s going to be a lot of penguiny blood spilled.

    Or, weird black goo – if Batman Returns is anything to go by.

  35. All these comments and no “Legend of the Guardians: Port of Call: New Orleans”???

  36. Went to see the Legends of the Guardians. As a fellow Australian I thought it was brilliant. Like the feathers and everything moved to perfection. All types of Owls such as Barn owls, Canadian Grey Owl, Snowy owls, Tawny Frogmouth etc. Was a great story and a great plot as well. Have no kids as I am the kid at 40 I went to see it without the hubby which was great. Beautiful animation and in 3D.
    Love this film……………………

  37. A little late on the comments here but..

    @The Filmatist… I wouldn’t get too excited about Miller’s film output over the next few years… From what I’ve heard (friends in the Aust animation business) Happy Feet 2 is going at a snail’s pace and all the cars built for Fury Road are sitting collecting dust and will continue to do so for quite some time…

  38. Just saw this one. I’d like to go on record as saying that OWL 300 is pretty fucking good as an action movie & pretty fucking great as a BADASS children’s movie. MetalBeak deserves a prequel, and I would totally pay beaucoup $ to see it in 3D.

  39. Just saw this one. Rented it with the GF and her 5 year old specifically because of all the praise on this web sight. Well, it was a big flop. The kid fell asleep, the GF hated it, and I thought it was pretty lame myself. Can’t win them all I guess.

    Good: Slow-motion feathers on the owls, the “rain” scene mentioned above, and that’s about it.

    Bad: The soundtrack. The “Hobbit meets Temple of Doom” by the numbers plot. The lame sidekick characters that never pay off. Numerous plot points. Soooo…. looking at the moon causes hypnosis?? Kind of an evolutionary grenade for a nocturnal animal, wouldn’t you say? There are magical metal pellets that somehow only affect gizzards?? Where from? What a lame deus ex machina.

    Maybe it’s a movie made for little boys and you guys appreciated it for nostalgia of your childhood or something. I’m not saying that as a dig or anything, I just was bored.

  40. So after Sucker Punch I finally decided to watch this, and it’s an interesting misfire. The episodic story is pretty solid and fresh, Mirren is a great villainess, and there’s some good ideas here, but overall it doesn’t quite gel. LaPaglia is a ridiculous character that seems to have stepped out of a Dreamworks movie, and there are some really, really unintentionally hilarious scenes. The slow-motion flying scenes in the rain and the fire were visually eye-popping (I really wish I saw this in 3D in theatres) but the overused “possibly-Middle Eastern-girl-wailing” music in the background (which I swear was the EXACT same music from the end of The Mist) just made it hard to take those scenes seriously.

    And speaking of which – the slo-mo/regular mo/slo-mo that everyone makes fun of Snyder for (and I’ve never minded) finally got to me here. There were times when time would slow down and then speed back up and I’m really not sure why. It reminded me of playing a game with a “bullet time” button except some kid hijacked the controller and keeps pressing it when you don’t want him to.

    And seriously, the aforementioned pop song during the montage was SO OUT OF NOWHERE, SO RANDOM, SO UNLIKE THE REST OF THE MOVIE it was like some weird Andy Kaufman-esque prank. To all the guys on the Sucker Punch thread arguing that Snyder doesn’t have a brain in his head – I was seriously wondering the same thing a few times during this movie.

    But still, kudos for telling a fairly serious tale meant for kids and getting a studio to back it. We don’t really have enough of those these days. (Also, I have to admit in a cast with as many villains as Sam Neill, Geoffrey Rush, Richard Roxburgh, and Hugo Weaving, it’s kind of cool that Joel Edgerton of all people voices The Big Bad character. It’s an unconventional choice but he’s great)

  41. I don’t watch animated movies pretty much ever, but I watched this one. I don’t want to ruin RRA’s Thanksgiving but the absolutely only reason I watched it was because of the Snyder Factor. I mean, how can you not have a soft spot for this guy? He doesn’t know the meaning of “phoning it in.” Here we got a movie about owls who have mastered metallurgy but still puke up mouse bones and eat bugs, and it still has a stronger commitment to visceral spectacle and emotional engagement than most movies about grown men in life or death situations. Yeah, there were too many sidekicks, and I get kind of sick of kids movies inundating our youth with this “Don’t use your brain, just do whatever you feel like at the time” doctrine that Hollywood seems to think is some real deep shit. (Seriously, I don’t think our nation’s youth really needs help not thinking stuff through. I think they got that one pretty well down.) But there’s a lot of heavy shit in here, too. I mean, the brother sells his baby sister into slavery for a promotion at work. You don’t even see R-rated villains pulling shit that cold-blooded. That’s some GAME OF THRONES shit right there.

    I can’t defend that song, though. But I don’t really blame Snyder. You got a children’s movie about owls and there’s a band named Owl City that all the kids like, of course some suit is gonna make you shoehorn that shit in there. Snyder is an auteur of sorts but his movies have never made the kind of fuck-you money where he can tell the studio to eat a dick if they want to put a Rihanna song on the soundtrack or whatever. He fights the battles he can win.

    Anyway, this is one of the better owl movies I’ve ever seen.

  42. I remember that this film had a detailed, kinda-realistic tone and art style that I found hard to reconcile with all the weird cartoony fantasy stuff. Throughout the first hour I kept saying “This is stupid. Where do these owls get all this owl-sized weaponry and armour from?” and then they go to Owlville and, sure enough, there’s an owl blacksmith churning out these tiny helmets and swords. They sure showed me.

  43. This is my favourite Zach Snyder movie. As an action film, it delivers pretty hard, and is actually wrenching in parts. And if you want to take it as a children’s film, it’s one of the good scary ones like RETURN TO OZ or BABE 2.

    The Owl City montage is, of course, ridiculous. But I find Snyder is often way too on-the-nose or just inappropriate with his song choices, going back to Jim Carroll’s “People Who Died” over the end credits of DAWN OF THE DEAD. I liked the use of Johnny Cash in that movie, though, and of Chris Cornell’s “Seasons” in MAN OF STEEL. I wish that movie had pushed the Superman mythos further into a contemporary pop culture vibe.

  44. The Undefeated Gaul

    November 29th, 2013 at 2:08 am

    I actually found the Dead Can Dance music more annoying than the Owl City song. For me that music is so tied with the ending of The Mist that it feels like some sort of sacrilege to use it in a kid’s movie about CGI owls.

  45. The Undefeated Gaul

    November 29th, 2013 at 2:10 am

    I felt the same way when the LOTR music was used in the first Man Of Steel teaser. Or when the Sunshine music was used in the X-Men: DOFP teaser.

    There should be some kind of rule against that shit.

  46. the Man Of Steel teaser is much better than the actual fucking movie

  47. The Undefeated Gaul

    November 29th, 2013 at 3:20 am

    Griff – have to disagree with you there. The teaser got an immediate disqualification from me because of terrible use of great music, and it seemed to promise a dull film that would take itself way too seriously. Then recently I finally saw the film on blu and it was actually pretty entertaining. I was pleasantly surprised.

  48. Personally, I think the TEAM AMERICA score killed the “vaguely Middle Eastern wordless wailing” trope forever. I can’t hear it anymore without thinking of marionette terrorists with suitcase bombs.

    I have to count myself as an unapologetic Snyder fan, seeing as how I’ve liked all of his movie except for maybe 2/5 of WATCHMEN.

    Here’s my Snyder list:

    1. SUCKER PUNCH (Snyder at full strength, freed for once from the narrative burdens of adaptation, allowed to let his visual dynamicism be the story itself instead of just the dressing, not to mention a bunch of interesting gender identity stuff in there that’s more interesting for it not being all that well thought through)
    2. MAN OF STEEL (I need to see it again but it’s just such a goddamn epic work that it ranks high in my memory.)
    3. 300 (Battle porn at its finest. It’s like if HENRY V was just one long St. Crispin’s Day speech.)
    4. DAWN OF THE DEAD (The first act is the best of the last decade’s zombie renaissance, mixing intimate violence with god’s-eye-view armageddon in striking ways. The rest is just some fun action horror with a good soundtrack.)
    5. THE OWL MOVIE (I liked it but I don’t know how often I’ll revisit it. It is a cartoon about adorable talking animals, after all. I have some shame.)
    6. WATCHMEN (I love the first half or so but then it runs out of steam and becomes a real slog. I blame that entirely on the source material, which I find to be a fascinating world with a really dull story happening in it. All the joys of WATCHMEN are the doodles in the margin, which are harder to make palatable in a reasonably lengthed motion picture. I shudder to think of the unwieldy dirge a more high-minded and less crowd-pleasing director would have made of it. A Ridley Scott version probably would have made me run screaming from the theater, desperate for fresh air not laden with self-impressed preponderance.)

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