EVERY so often, an animated film comes along that utterly changes the film landscape. Disney’s Fantasia was one of them, along with The Lion King, Monsters Inc and Finding Nemo.
As the technology for creating films improves, the films themselves become better. Take Avatar, for example, which changed the way people looked at films.
Village Roadshow’s latest animation, Legends of the Guardians: The Owls of Ga’Hoole, is set to be the next ground-breaking piece of animated film. Starring some of the world’s biggest names as the voices of the owls, including Helen Mirren, Ryan Kwanten, Rachel Taylor, Sam Neil, Abbie Cornish and Geoffrey Rush, Legends of the Guardians follows young owlet Soren on his epic journey from when he falls from his nest until he overcomes the most challenging circumstances to triumph.
While Legends of the Guardians sounds and looks very much like a children’s film (and it is), it is much more. “It’s a fairly epic odyssey-type film,” explained Rush who voices the role of battle-weary but legendary owl Ezylryb. “Some commentators have started likening it to Lord of the Rings in its scale.”
And there is little surprise that commentators are choosing Lord of the Rings as a comparison. Soren’s early life is much like Frodo’s secluded and idyllic life at Bag End in The Shire, only Soren’s home is a nest in a tree with his parents, siblings and nurse-snake Mrs P (beautifully voiced by Miriam Margoyles). The scenery and cinematography in The Lord of the Rings is almost as important as the story itself and in Legends of the Guardians, the animation is what takes the film from being something mindless to take the kids to when they are bored to a must-see film for people of all ages.
“The dimensions of the film are pretty extraordinary,” Rush said. “It goes from simple, domestic, protected, child-like characters to demonic warlords.”
When the Oscar award-winning actor first read the script, he knew this was going to be so much more than just another kids’ film. “I don’t know if this was intentional from the outset or not but when I read the script, I felt there was that totalitarian era of the mid- 20th century in Europe underpinning the world of the movie,” he said. “I thought if they can get that in a way that is engaging and not tokenistic, it could really pop.”
As one of the most respected and celebrated actors in Hollywood with a list of films under his belt that reads like a must-have DVD collection, Rush is in a good position to say what is going to pop and what isn’t. Already his next film, The King’s Speech, opposite Colin Firth, Helena Bonham Carter and Guy Pearce, has started creating a buzz for Oscar nominations.
While Legends of the Guardian stars many performers in the same league as Rush, the recording studio for voicing the roles wasn’t like an Oscars after-party. In fact, most of the actors recorded their parts without the rest of the cast present. “It’s a curiously lonely experience,” he said. “Even with (director) Zack Snider, I was only connected with him on a two-way camera coverage.
“When the whole cast arrives at the premiere, we will probably all go, ‘Oh! I didn’t know you were in this’.”
Aside from the opportunity to catch up with his cast mates for the first time, the premiere will also give Rush the opportunity to see the film for the first time and he is extremely excited about it. “The two great things I have heard about Legends is that the art work is so beautifully photorealistic ... it’s heightened and hyper-real and detailed in a way CGI hasn’t been up until now,” he said.
“The other thing is the use of 3D is really spectacular and deeply intertwined with the storytelling.
“I have seen the shot on trailers where the little owl is flying through the storm, and in slow motion, you see the globules of water hitting his face and dispersing. It looks incredible and very Zack Snyder.”
Legend of the Guardians : The Owls of Ga’Hoole is in cinemas now.
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