The story is a familiar one: Brother against brother, the emerging hero in an inescapable entaglement with the emerging villain, there is dragon-battle, ritual death and dismemberment, talismans, companions, and a threshold guardian who turns out to be something more. The story is set in Australia; with lots of Aussies lending their talents like Sam Neill and Ryan Kwanten, the authentic accents and beautiful imagery add to the magical realism portrayed in this 90-minute masterpiece.
Good triumphs over evil, of course, after a heated battle. And the Guardians get to safely and peacefully live in the Tree once again, protecting the sick, doing good and fighting for what is right. Like Adams' Watership Down, O'Brien's Mrs. Frisby and the Rats of NIMH, or Jacques' Redwall, Legend of the Guardians portrays an animal society where evil lurks, grows and is ultimately defeated, but only after the reluctant hero crosses the threshold into the wider world.
I particularly liked how Lasky and Snyder make a point of showing their young audience that, sometimes, in order to do what is right, you have to fight hard battles that leave you scarred, changed, but the world will be better for it. And, the scars are easier to live with than tyrannical evil. Sound familiar? I wish it were more so...and not just in the movies.
On the Housel-scale, Legend of the Guardians: The Owls of Ga'Hoole is a 10/10. It's PG because very young minds may be affected by the battle-violence toward the end of the film, but the film has been in theatres in the States for a month now and has grossed well over $40,000,000 for a reason. See it. The story sends the "right" kind of message to people of all ages through a beautifully animated film that effortlessly glides the audience to the fantasy world Lasky created in her original novels.