Australian Council on Children and the Media

Legends of the Guardians: The Owls of Ga’hoole

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Short takes

Not recommended under 8, PG to 13 (Violence; Scary scenes)

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This topic contains:

  • overall comments and recommendations
  • details of classification and consumer advice lines for Legends of the Guardians: The Owls of Ga’hoole
  • a review of Legends of the Guardians: The Owls of Ga’hoole completed by the Australian Council on Children and the Media (ACCM) on 30 September 2010.

Overall comments and recommendations

Children under 8 Not recommended due to violence and scary scenes
Children aged 8-13 Parental guidance recommended due to violence and scary scenes
Children over the age of 13 OK for this age group

About the movie

This section contains details about the movie, including its classification by the Australian Government Classification Board and the associated consumer advice lines.

Name of movie: Legends of the Guardians: The Owls of Ga’hoole
Classification: PG
Consumer advice lines: Mild violence and scary scenes
Length 97 minutes

ACCM review

This review of the movie contains the following information:

A synopsis of the story

Brothers Kludd (voice of Ryan Kwanten) and Soren (Jim Sturgess) are raised on the legendary stories of the Guardians of Ga’Hoole and their epic battles against the forces of darkness. Soren loves these legends, he dreams of them, re-enacts them with his little sister Eglantine (Adrienne DeFaria) and can see himself as part of them. Kludd on the other hand thinks of them as little more than stupid fairy tales, told to entertain little owlets, and nothing more.

The brothers are put to the test when they are kidnapped by henchmen for the Pure Ones – a group of evil elitist owls who are abducting owlets from all regions in order to create a brainwashed army of vengeful “orphans” who will help them conquer the Guardians of Ga’Hoole once and for all. Soren, who befriends and defends a weaker owl named Gylfie (Emily Barclay), is forced to become a “picker”, a brainwashed zombie scrounging through old owl pellets to find bits of metal and Kludd, who callously denies his brother, becomes a favourite soldier.

Soren and Gylfie fight the effects of the brainwashing and are helped by one of the henchmen in a daring bid to escape. Once they are free they must find the legendary island of Ga’Hoole and enlist the Guardians to fight the Pure Ones and their forces of darkness once more. Along the way they are joined by Twilight (Anthony LaPaglia) and Digger (David Wenham) two owls who help them on their quest and who provide support when all hope seems lost.

Themesinfo

Children and adolescents may react adversely at different ages to themes of crime, suicide, drug and alcohol dependence, death, serious illness, family breakdown, death or separation from a parent, animal distress or cruelty to animals, children as victims, natural disasters and racism. Occasionally reviews may also signal themes that some parents may simply wish to know about.

Kidnapping; sibling rivalry; supremacist beliefs

Use of violenceinfo

Research shows that children are at risk of learning that violence is an acceptable means of conflict resolution when violence is glamourised, performed by an attractive hero, successful, has few real life consequences, is set in a comic context and / or is mostly perpetrated by male characters with female victims, or by one race against another.

Repeated exposure to violent content can reinforce the message that violence is an acceptable means of conflict resolution. Repeated exposure also increases the risks that children will become desensitised to the use of violence in real life or develop an exaggerated view about the prevalence and likelihood of violence in their own world.

There is some violence in this movie including:

  • Kludd pushes Soren off a branch. They both fall to the ground.
  • The brothers are attacked by a wolf-like creature before being abducted by henchmen.
  • There are numerous battle scenes throughout the film where owls and other birds or small creatures are attacked and or killed. All the owls wear razor sharp blades attached to their talons and there is often much slashing and jabbing before one owl or another meets its doom.
  • Kludd, while learning to fly with other owlet soldiers, is forced to attack / chase a little bird. Anything goes in terms of stopping the other owls from getting to the bird fist and there is much shoving, pushing and bashing as each owl races to catch the bird.
  • Soren and Gylfie are chased by evil looking owls through dark tunnels and cloudy skies. Eventually they lose them.
  • Soren and his friends are attacked by a swarm of birds as they near the coast.
  • Two of the scouts sent by the Guardians fall into a trap and are never heard from again.
  • A spy is killed by the Pure Ones.
  • The Guardians are all trapped by some sort of electronic force field that renders them immobile and causes pain while the Pure Ones prepare to kill them all.
  • Kludd attacks Soren and disappears into a raging fire. It is assumed that he has died.

Material that may scare or disturb children

Under fiveinfo

Children under five are most likely to be frightened by scary visual images, such as monsters, physical transformations.

In addition to the above-mentioned violent scenes, there are some scenes in this movie that could scare or disturb children under the age of five, including the following:

  • Ominous dramatic music throughout the film
  • Most of the Pure One’s soldiers wear evil, creepy looking masks. One in particular wears the mask to cover his missing beak and disfigured facial features. He and some of his henchmen have glowing red eyes that peer through their terrible-looking masks. The overall effect is sinister and creepy.
  • The group in which Soren and Gylfie are placed are brainwashed by staring up at the moon and then “sleeping” under its light. They “awaken” with milky-white eyes and have been transformed into little more than zombies. It is quite eerie and may scare younger viewers.
  •  Soren risks his life to fly through fire in order to help save the Guardians.

Aged five to eightinfo

Children aged five to eight will also be frightened by scary visual images and will also be disturbed by depictions of the death of a parent, a child abandoned or separated from parents, children or animals being hurt or threatened and / or natural disasters.

In addition to the above-mentioned violent scenes and scary visual images, there are some scenes in this movie that could scare or disturb children aged five to eight, including the following:

  • A group of owlets arrive in a darkened cave after being abducted from their families and are immediately told that they are orphans and that their families do not want them. Most look very scared and all of them want to go home.
  • While trying to cross the ocean to reach the Island of Ga’Hoole Digger’s wings become frozen and he plummets into the sea while Soren races down to try to find him. He believes that his friend has been lost beneath the churning waves and despairs until one of the Guardians comes to the rescue.
  • Eglantine is taken by Kludd and is offered to the Pure Ones. She is terrified as she watches the soldiers interact and cowers behind Kludd. Later, when she begs to go home and promises not to tell what the Pure Ones are doing, she is brainwashed and winds up with the same milky-white, zombie stare as many other owlets. This is how Soren finds her, unresponsive and vacant, just a shadow of her former self. Soren is devastated until he, and his stories, help to bring her back.

Aged eight to thirteeninfo

Children aged eight to thirteen are most likely to be frightened by realistic threats and dangers, violence or threat of violence and / or stories in which children are hurt or threatened.

Children in this age group may also be disturbed by some of the above mentioned scenes.

Over thirteeninfo

Children over the age of thirteen are most likely to be frightened by realistic physical harm or threats, molestation or sexual assault and / or threats from aliens or the occult.

Children in this age group are unlikely to be disturbed by anything in this film.

Product placement

None

Sexual references

None of concern

Nudity and sexual activity

None of concern

Use of substances

None of concern

Coarse language

None of concern

In a nutshell

Legends of the Guardians: The Owls of Ga’hoole is an intense animated adventure with some very good special effects. Based on the books by Katherine Lasky, it appears to be a children’s film but is too dark and disturbing for young children.

The main messages from this movie are to believe in yourself, to trust in your dreams and to remember that just because you can’t see something doesn’t mean it isn’t real.

Values in this movie that parents may wish to reinforce with their children include:

  • courage
  • justice
  • defence of the innocent and those smaller or weaker than you
  • faith and determination in the face of seemingly hopeless circumstances

This movie could also give parents the opportunity to discuss with their children attitudes and behaviours, and their real-life consequences, such as

  • sibling rivalry and turning away from those you love
  • the similarities that can be drawn between the Pure Ones and human supremacist groups.

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