Legends Of The Guardians: The Owls Of Ga'Hoole 3D

Featured In Issue 157, May/June 2011

3D Picture5+
WSR Score5
Basic Information on new release titles is posted as soon as titles are announced. Once reviewed, additional data is added to the database.
Warner Home Video
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Some sequences of scary action
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Single Side, Dual Layer (BD-50)
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Not Indicated
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Zack Snyder
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Dolby Digital 5.1, DTS HD Lossless 5.1
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Legend Of The Guardians: The Owls of Ga'Hoole, directed by Zack Snyder (300 and Watchman), is an animated film based upon the first three books in a series of 15 children's books called Guardians Of Ga'Hoole, by Kathryn Lasky. The film follows the mythological story of kidnapped owls and the saving of owlkind from a warring faction. Two owls, Soren (Sturgess) and Kludd (Kwanten), both who have radically different dreams in life, navigate the perilous world they find themselves in after falling from their treetop home. While Soren dreams of someday joining his heroes, his older brother, Kludd, scoffs at the notion and yearns to hunt, fly, and steal his father's favor from his younger sibling. But Kludd's jealousy has terrible consequences—causing both owlets to fall from their treetop home. When they get snatched up by the Pure Ones, Soren makes a daring escape and, with other young owls, soars across the sea and through the mist to find the Great Tree, the home of legendary Guardians—Soren's only hope of defeating the Pure Ones, rescuing his older brother, and saving the owl kingdoms. (Gary Reber)

The three-disc Blu-ray™ 3-D Combo Pack includes a 3-D high-definition disc, a 2-D high-definition disc, a standard-definition DVD, and a digital copy of the film. Special features on the 3-D Blu-ray include the Looney Tunes short Fur Of Flying (HD 03:04). The 2-D Blu-ray includes the featurette True Guardians Of The Earth (HD 15:09); the Looney Toons short; WB Maximum "Kid" Mode''a Bonus View exploration of the World of Ga'Hoole (HD 107:11); two interactive features: Armor Up With Soren & Eglantine and Match The Owl Treats; the illustrated "Rise Of The Guardians" (HD 02:12); four artwork galleries-—"The Guardians," "The Locations," "The Villains," and "Soren & Friends"; the music video "To The Sky" by Owl City (HD 03:40); and BD-Live and D-BOX Motion Code™ functionality.

Originally exhibited in 1.44:1 70 mm (horizontal) IMAX DMR blowup dual-strip 3D and 1.85:1 D-Cinema 3D, this 2.35:1 1080p MVC 3-D Blu-ray picture is framed at 2.39:1. This is one of the finest 3-D presentations thus far released. The CGI imagery is breathtaking, with extraordinary digital creatures and environments that are incredibly finely detailed. Remarkably, the photorealistic fur is wondrously detailed, such that virtually each feather and piece of fur is distinguishable. Such resolution is evident in the other worldly environments and on the metal helmets worn by Metalbeak and other owls. While the overall character of the film is dark, the color palette is vividly rich and warm, with hues expressed in gold, orange, and yellow. The owls are hued in varied brown and orange shades. Contrast is excellent, which is evident by the deep, solid blacks and the seemingly pure whites. While owls are night creatures, most of the scenes are at sunset, which provides greater light, to heighten sharpness. Of course, the 3-D effects are exceptional, no doubt due to the fact that the film was conceived and produced as a native 3-D project. The visual sense of depth perception is perfectly realized, with impressive application of 3-D techniques, to dazzle viewers with the feeling of flying with the owls around the sky and clouds. The realism is incredible, even when certain elements emanate from outside the front of the screen or push out from the screen. For example, raindrops fly out from above the audience into the screen and onto the owls soaring through the sky, supported by aggressive rear hemisphere surround energy. Every dimension that can be used is used to sustain disbelief. The result far ex-ceeds the typical 3-D experience of "viewing through a 'window'" that less-ambitious filmmakers have em-ployed. Such use of 3-D effects is exceptionally im-pressive, especially intensifying the various battle scenes as pointed weapons protrude from the screen, or imparting the feeling of flying with the owls, as owl wings swoop out of the screen during flight sequences. The environments are rendered so as to project realistic shapes and volumes, such as the depiction of trees, mountains, and the owls themselves. The viewer is pulled into incredible perceptible environments, whether in the skies and cloud cover over seas or in the darkest recesses of St. Aegolius, feeling the illusion of depth and scale of the experience. Even the sense of space between the owls is perfectly executed as they flap and move back and forth changing perspective. The whole experience feels as if you are transported into the owls' world inside the screen and outside, integrated in such a way that you feel exhilaratingly "connected." Throughout, there is not a trace of double image ghosting, which translates to an exceptionally clean, pristine visual experience. Other attributes to be commended are the beautiful animation and the breathtaking imagery that is the result of passionate and painstaking planning and execution as a 3-D project. While the 2-D experience is exemplary in traditional picture attributes and dimensionality, the 3-D version is the absolute reference. This is one 3-D experience not to miss! Recommendation: Just prior to viewing Legends Of The Guardians check out the Looney Tunes short Fur Of Flying in 5.1-channel DTS-HD Master Audio™! (Gary Reber)

The DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1-channel soundtrack is brilliantly executed. Every sound element is used perfectly to create an intense holosonic® experience that supports and enhances the 3D. At times, all channels are fully energized, for dramatic impact and intensity. Directionalized sound effects and atmospherics, as well as dialogue, effectively flows through-out the soundfield, to create the varied soundscapes reflective of the visual environments. The battle scenes are intense, aided by sound effects that move with the action and are embellished with real Foley sounds. Gusty wind sounds whoosh around the soundfield during stormy segments. Subtler atmospherics complement the quieter moments. Low-frequency energy is impactful, with solid, deep bass that extends to sub-25 Hz frequencies in the .1 LFE channel. The orchestral music score is powerful and expansive, with a sweeping wide and deep soundstage that aggressively extends to the surround channels. Instrumental timbre and choral construct is wonderfully delineated, as well as the dynamic contrasts heard in the score. Pity that this could have not been executed as a 7.1-channel soundtrack because this is one film that is so constructed to really benefit from the added two channels. Certainly, this would have further heightened the holosonic immersiveness to impart even greater excitement. Dialogue, while ADR, is nicely integrated spatially and works well without ever taking one out of the experience, even during aggressive positioning in the surrounds. The D-BOX Motion Code encoding is one of the best motion simulation efforts ever experienced and adds yet another dimension to the total experience, with every possible variation of motion applied, from gentle floating to intense jolts. This is a fantastic soundtrack that perfectly complements the 3D, delivering an exhilarating sonic experience. (Gary Reber)