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Legend of the Guardians: The Owls of Ga'Hoole is an animated film adaptation of Guardians of Ga'Hoole, a series of children's fantasy novels.
The story follows an owl named Soren. He and his brother, Kludd, are kidnapped by evil owls and taken to a sinister realm called St. Aggie's, where Kludd is recruited into a Legion of Doom and Soren is put to work in a massive owl sweatshop putting together pieces of a superweapon. At St. Aggie's, a villain named Metal Beak is building up his forces, an army called the Pure Ones, with the intent of conquering the world of owls.
Soren and a friendly elf owl he meets escape and go on a quest to find the Tree of Ga'Hoole, the legendary home of a race of warriors: the Guardians, who are sworn to fight evil.
This movie contains the following tropes:
- 3D Movie
- All-Star Cast: Helen Mirren, Geoffrey Rush, Hugo Weaving, Sam Neill, Richard Roxburgh, Joel Edgerton, Anthony LaPaglia, Miriam Margolyes.
- Aloof Older Brother
- Angrish: Nyra does a couple of these.
- Anything But That:
Digger: Oh no! Not the lute!
- Authority Equals Asskicking: Nyra, who flies into the final battle without a helmet or steel talons and downs more birds than any other Pure One.The Pure Ones value strength above anything else. So it stands to reason that the Queen of the Pure Ones would be strong. It might be that Asskicking Equals Authority.
- Badass Grandpa:
- Also, Grimble, if he's as old as he seems. Right up until Kludd's betrayal he was more than holding his own against two Pure Ones and Nyra, who can down several Guardians completely unequipped, as stated above.
- Bat Out of Hell / The Swarm: With blades on their wings!
- Battle Couple: Nyra and Metal Beak are an evil example.
- Berserk Button:
- Mess with Ezylryb, and you'll be messing with Soren.
- By the time the fight in the forest fire happens, you can tell Kludd's had his pushed way too many times.
- Boisterous Bruiser: Twilight.
- Book Ends: The movie begins with Soren listening one story from his father, and it ends with Soren narrating his adventures to a group of young owls, one who has a helmet made of leaves, just like the one that Soren had at the beginning of the film.
- Break the Cutie: Eglantine.
- Broken Pedestal: Ezylryb is Lyze of Kiel, and he is the first to tell Soren that the stories he heard in his nest weren't as heroic as he believed...
- Bullet Time: The movie is directed by Zack Snyder, after all. Has the advantage of making the aerial battles easier to follow.
- Cain and Abel: Soren and Kludd start off okay, but by the end of the film It Got Worse.
- Cloudcuckoolander: Digger, in spades.
- Composite Character: Bizaarely enough, this movie actually inverts it. The books make it clear that, although Kludd is not the first leader of the Pure Ones, he is the first and only Metal Beak, due to certain injuries sustained in battle. In the movie, it seems as though Metal Beak is a title passed down to the Pure Ones' leader.
- Creative Closing Credits: The events of the movie are shown like a shadow puppet theater.
- Darker and Edgier: Compared to other recent talking animal films.
- Lighter and Softer: Compared to the original books.
- Defiant to the End: Grimble.
Nyra: Would you wound your queen, Grimble?
- Disney Villain Death: Implied to be Kludd's fate after he falls into a forest fire. He gets better, but that doesn't stop his screaming while seemingly falling to his death from being any less creepy.
- The Dragon: Nyra.
- Evil Laugh: Metal Beak has a wonderfully disturbing chuckle in the back of his throat that is made of pure creepy.
- Faceless Mooks: The Pure One owls. Not only do they wear face-concealing helmets, but while the Pure One initiates are being addressed by Metal Beak, one guard has a helmet that covers his face completely, no eyes at all.
- Family-Unfriendly Violence:
- Owls clawing and slashing each other apart, characters dying, bats tearing apart owls, some of said bats appearing to die via Neck Snap, impalements...No blood or wounds are visible though.
- They actually toned down the violence significantly from the original book, which was not afraid to describe many of the Gory Discretion Shots in detail.
- There is a deleted scene that has owls being enslaved, bats implied to cut a owl's wing (or at least its flight feathers, which is equally creepy) off, and a violent battle wherein a owl gets a talon sliced off in clear view of the camera.
- Fantastic Racism: And how!
- Five-Bad Band:
- Five-Man Band:
- When Soren figures out that Ezylryb is Lyze of Kiel, the latter tells him:
Ezylryb: What did you expect? Some Tyto Alba with gleaming armor and battle claws with the moon rising behind him?
- Then when we get to the climax, we get this dramatic shot.
- When Soren and Gylfie are learning to fly Glyfie as trouble because of her small wings. Their teacher tells them that Lyze of Kiel had small wings. He is the smallest of the Guardians that we are introduced to.
- Good Scars, Evil Scars: Kludd and Grimble both have them. Kludd has evil ones, Grimble has good ones.
- Gory Discretion Shot: Several major character deaths are done in this way.
- Idiot Hair: Digger's Idiot Feather
- Incredibly Lame Pun:
- Soren's name sounds an awful lot like Soarin'
- "I FORETOLD YOU SO!"
- Digger's dialogue is full of these.
Digger: Knock Knock!
- And again later:
Digger What does an owl say when he is attacked by crows?
- Let's not forget the first exchange that set off the warning bells:
Twilight: If I have to hear any more of his owl jokes...
- It Got Worse: Well, after falling from the nest, Soren and Kludd are attacked by a Tasmanian devil. Two owls come to their rescue. However...
- Killer Rabbit: The owls. Oh so much.
- Mentor Occupational Hazard: Grimble. Averted with Lyse who Metal Beak was going to kill in front of Soren, but he escaped.
- Misplaced Wildlife: The mammalian life is quite obviously Australian, but the owls are from all over the world.
- A Nazi by Any Other Name: The Pure Ones, and how. The villains are pretty much owl Nazis, complete with their own Hitler Youth. Nyra is a Sdrawkcab Name that really hammers the point home.
- Never Found the Body: Kludd. Because he's still alive. And may become the new Metal Beak, if they decide to do a sequel.
- Nightmare Face: Why Metal Beak wears his trademark helmet.
- The Obi-Wan: Grimble.
- Our Zombies Are Different: Moonblinked owls are zombified, in the true sense of the word.
- Owl Be Damned: Subverted in that owls are on all sides, but Metalbeak and Nyra play the creepy owl factor for all it's worth.
- The Owl-Knowing One: Similar to the above, only one owl out of the cast is wise, but we do spend the latter half of the movie hearing him wise at Soren.
- Pet the Dog: Right before his Moral Event Horizon crossing, Kludd releases a small bird that he and the other Pure One initiates were trying to catch.
- Playing Against Type: The director, Zack Snyder, whose resume also includes such family films as 300, Watchmen, and Sucker Punch.
- Playing Possum: Metalbeak does this once.
- Pragmatic Adaptation: Although there are enormous differences between the books and the movie, most fans agree that the changes are true to the books' general spirit, and make it a very enjoyable film to watch whether you're a fan of the original or not.
- Red Eyes, Take Warning:
- The Pure One Mooks get these.
- Nyra's eyes are initially normal, befitting her projected appearance of a beautiful, reasonable and trustworthy authority figure, but the more furious she becomes, the redder her eyes get. At one point during battle, her eyes are as red as any other among the Pure Ones.
- The bats.
- When Kludd is revealed to be alive at the end, his eyes glow a sinister red as he looks upon the fallen Metalbeak's mask.
- Reptiles Are Abhorrent: Averted with Mrs. P, a snake that acts as a nursemaid.
- Rewarded as a Traitor Deserves: Allomere.
- Royals Who Actually Do Something: Boron and Baran, the rulers of the tree.
- Save the Villain: Sort of. Kludd becomes a full member of the Pure Ones and turns completely against Soren in the end, attacking and attempting to kill his own brother without remorse which would classify him as a villain. After the fight that leaves Kludd with a broken wing and pleading of Soren to save him, Soren tries to, but just barely manages until Kludd tries to attack him again, accidentally sending himself plummeting into the fire.
- Scenery Porn / Scenery Gorn: The Guardians' Tree? Breathtaking. The Pure Ones' base? Terrifying.
- Seldom-Seen Species: The Echidna and the Tasmanian Devil. Also, the movie gives screen time to some lesser-known owl species.
- Sequel Hook
- Ship Tease:
- Soren and Otulissa who isn't even Soren's mate, according to the book canon.
- Gylfie seems to have a soft spot for Soren and doesn't take too kindly to Otulissa.
- Kludd and Nyra. Since, in the books, they become mates and produce two eggs, this makes sense.
- Shout-Out: The Pure Ones' helmeted, glowring red-eyed warriors look a lot like Cylon Centurions, especially in profile. The bats seem a lot like the Komori Ninja (bladed wings, proficient in science), but that's probably a coincedence.
- Shown Their Work:
- Yes, owls do regurgitate mice in that manner.
- More like they read the book...
- Correct bird calls are used to represent the proper species of owls seen in the movie.
- Sibling Rivalry
- Sleep Cute: Gylfie and Digger fall asleep against Soren on a tree branch.
- Spared by the Adaptation: In the book, Soren's parents are most likely dead by the time the Band reaches the great tree (though it's never specified quite when, the fact is we never see them alive again). The movie has them alive and well, actually making it to the tree themselves.
- Species-Coded for Your Convenience:
- Both sides are made up of owls, but only the bad guys use trained attack bats. And probably as an artifact of their need for pureness, most of the antagonists are barn owls.
- Indeed the Pure Ones consist entirely of owls from the Tyto genus (aka barn owls). Lampshaded by many characters but notably Kludd in the line "Because we are Tytos!" in answer to Metal Beak's query of why the Pure Ones are superior. 'Lower species' are reserved for the grunt work alone but do 'stain' their feathers as a sort of uniform or show of loyalty.
- The bats are evil.
- Squick: Gylfie's reaction to having to sift through pellets in the Pelletorium is a In-Universe example.
- Stealth Pun: A song by Owl City playing in the background as they explore the tree, anyone?
- There's a very subtle one in the bird-chase scene early on. The bird they're chasing is an Indigo Bunting. That means that the would-be Pure Ones were...bunting baiting.
- The Dog Shot First: The outcome of Soren and Kludd's fight.
- The Quisling: Allomere, who sets up his own squad to be injured by the metal flecks. He is later ratted out by Eglantine.
- Those Two Bad Guys: Jatt and Jutt. They even have a discussion on the best use of (rather silly) intimidating looks.
- Too Dumb to Live:
- During their fight,Kludd breaks his wing and begs Soren to pull him up. He may have been trying for a Mutual Kill, but it was still a really stupid decision when there's a forest fire going on beneath them.
- Arguably, Soren himself. He absolutely refused to believe Kludd could side with the Pure Ones, and as a result nearly gets killed by him.
- Trailers Always Lie:
- The trailers billed the movie as an epic quest wherein Soren becomes his ideal (a Guardian) through many trials while trying to reach them. At least, to those that never read the novels.
- The trailers also used a lot of lines and footage not in the actual movie, like Grimble explaining what the Pure Ones are doing, and parts of this trailer.
- Training Montage
- War Is Hell: Hammered home by Ezylryb.
- Warrior Poet: Twilight likes to think of himself as one, though he's arguably better at the "warrior" part.
- What Happened to the Mouse?: Kludd's supposed death isn't addressed when Soren reunites with his parents.
- Who's Laughing Now?: Kludd's "reason" for joining the Pure Ones.
- Wounded Gazelle Gambit: Possibly employed by Kludd in the burning forest, just before he falls into the flames.
- You Have Failed Me: Metal Beak to the traitorous Allomere. May double as a You Have Outlived Your Usefulness moment. As Metal Beak put it, "There can be only one king."
- You Killed My Father: Soren's reaction in a nutshell at Kludd's "death"
- You Shall Not Pass: Grimble. He manages to hold off both Nyra and two other Pure Ones, and even when Kludd made his Face Heel Turn, he still had enough fight in him to ensure that Soren and Gylfie managed to escape.
- Youngest Child Wins: Subverted. Soren is the middle child, but he fares far better than Kluud and Eglantine.
- Weaponized Animal: Some of the owls have metal talons, and the bats have blades on their wings.