Directed by: Zack Snyder
Written by:John Orloff, Emil Stern
Starring: Jim Sturgess, Geoffrey Rush, Emily Barclay, Anthony LaPaglia, David Wenham, Ryan Kwanten, Helen Mirren, Sam Neill, Hugo Weaving
Released: September 30, 2010
Grade: B-

Do you like a challenge?  If so, you should see this movie and try to identify the Australian actors who have leant their voices to its characters.  There are more than 15 by my count.  I guess the casting agents had a thing for Aussies.  Then again, maybe it was just for convenience given the film was shot at Fox Studios in Sydney.

That’s not the end of the local connection.  Australia company Animal Logic was behind the incredibly detailed animation that you’ll see on the screen.  They rose to prominence in 2006 with Happy Feet and this latest effort will only further enhance their reputation.  I don’t even want to guess how many man-hours it took to create some of these scenes.

Unfortunately, my love for the animation doesn’t extend to the direction and storyline.  I found certain elements of the plot difficult to understand.  How does “moon blinking” work?  What’s with the metal flecks machine thingy?  I also had trouble keeping up with all the characters.  Did we really need so many of them?  It’s hard to tell who’s fighting who in certain fight sequences.

Given my grievances as a 33-year-old adult, I’m not convinced this film will engage its target audience.  It’ll be a struggle to maintain kids’ short attention spans.  I’ve also concerns about the marketability of these animals.  Are owls exciting enough to warrant their own movie?   They didn’t do it for me.  I had a lot more fun earlier in the year watching talking toys and fire-breathing dragons.

To quickly encapsulate the story, it’s about a group of good owls who are trying to stop a group of bad owls from taking over their world.  That’s about all I took away from it.  I haven’t read Kathryn Lasky’s novel but I’m guessing this is yet another case where something was lost in translation.

The film opened in the United States last weekend with a poor box-office take of $16.3m.  Considering the film’s $100m budget, I suspect this will be the first… and last time we see the owls of Ga’Hoole on the big screen.