Legend of the Guardians: The Owls of Ga’Hoole appears in an aspect ratio of approximately 2.40:1 on this Blu-Ray Disc. At all times, the movie looked amazing.
Sharpness appeared absolutely immaculate. No matter how wide the shots became, they always seemed crisp and perfectly detailed; this meant not the slightest hint of softness ever marred the presentation. I witnessed no examples of jaggies or shimmering, and I also detected no signs of edge enhancement. I couldn’t see any signs of print flaws, as the movie was completely clean.
Though not really natural, the palette of Legend favored a good variety of hues, and they came across exceedingly well on this disc. The colors were consistently rich and vibrant, and they displayed absolutely no flaws whatsoever. . Black levels also appeared dense and deep, and shadow detail was flawless. I’d be hard-pressed to cite a more immaculate presentation than this, as the flick really looked stunning.
While not quite as strong as the picture, the DTS-HD MA 5.1 soundtrack of Legend also seemed terrific. . The mix presented an excellent soundstage. The front three channels were especially active, with solid spatial orientation and smooth panning between speakers. The rear speakers got a nice workout, especially in many of the scenes in which owls flew; they zipped around from front to rear and right to left effectively and convincingly.
The track also featured some nice use of directional dialogue, as speech popped up in appropriate locations throughout the movie. The mix really created a nicely smooth and integrated sense of environment. All the action scenes came to life effectively and filled the spectrum in a dynamic manner.
Audio quality appeared very positive. Dialogue remained distinct and natural and suffered from no signs of edginess or problems related to intelligibility. I thought the score was warm and rich, as the music showed fine dimensionality and dynamics. The effects also came across as concise and accurate. They presented clean highs and some terrific lows; bass response was consistently tight and powerful without any distortion. All in all, the audio of Legend seemed quite impressive.
As we head to the disc’s extras, we start with Maximum Kid Mode. It offers an interactive experience that accompanies the movie. Hosted by owns Soren and Otulissa, we see concept art, rough animation, storyboards, some games and other behind the scenes elements.
We also find comments from writer John Orloff, executive producers Deborah Snyder, Lionel Wigram and Donald De Line, art director Grant Freckelton, director Zack Snyder, associate producer Katrina Peers, previs and lensing director David Scott, editor David Burrows, action coordinator Damon Caro, digital supervisor Ben Gunsberger, character supervisor Damien Gray, animation supervisor Alex Weight, producer Zareh Nalbandian, sound designer Wayne Pashley, and actors Miriam Margolyes, Jim Sturguess, Helen Mirren, Ruan Kwanten, Adrienne Defaria, Geoffrey Rush, Abbie Cornish, Hugo Weaving, Sam Neill and Emily Barclay. The topics cover story, themes and script, cast, characters and performances, art and visual design, facts about owls, animation and effects, staging action scenes, research, sound design, and a few other topics.
Though titled “Maximum Kid Mode”, this feature will offer some appeal to adults – not as much as a standard picture-in-picture commentary would, but viewers shouldn’t write it off as kiddie fluff. We get some decent notes about the film’s creation, and we find a pretty strong collection of storyboards and art; those kinds of elements pop up quite frequently during the film, and they’re interesting to see. The kid orientation makes things simplistic at times, but the track still has its value for older folks.
During True Guardians of the Earth, we get a 15-minute, nine-second featurette hosted by the movie’s character Digger and Modern Family actor Rico Rodriguez. We hear a few remarks from owl sanctuary owner Carolyn Screech, ornithologist Dr. Eric Forsman, and Trowinna Wildlife Park managing director Androo Kelly. They provide basic facts about owls and give us a simple but reasonably informative discussion of the birds.
Called Legend of the Guardians: Armor Up with Soren and Eglantine, we get an “interactive costume creator”. This allows you to put the owls in a variety of outfits like superhero costumes. If you plop them in matching garb, you’ll see a goofy message. This might be a minor diversion for the youngsters, but that’s the best I can say for it.
Next comes a game entitled Match the Owl Treats. In this, we must play a pretty simple memory game. Actually, the last of the three rounds presents more of a challenge, but it’s still pretty basic. It’s meant for kids, and they may enjoy it.
Legend of the Guardians: Rise of the Guardians goes for two minutes, 12 seconds and acts as an alternate introduction to the film. I don’t know if it’d been a good way to start the film or not, as it telegraphs a lot of plot points. However, it may’ve made the murky story more understandable.
For something wackier, we head to the Looney Tunes Fur of Flying animated short. This three-minute, four-second Road Runner short features the usual antics as Wile E. Coyote tries to bag a meal. What connection does it have to Legend? Not much, though I guess it appears because Coyote uses a flying device. It’s a mediocre cartoon.
Under Artwork Galleries, we see four areas. These cover "Soren & Friends” (44 images), "The Locations" (18), "Villains of St. Aegolius" (17) and "The Guardians" (24). We get a nice array of concept art here, though I have to toss in one hardware-related caveat: when I got to the last image of the “Villains” and “Guardians” galleries, my Blu-ray player totally froze and needed to be unplugged before it’d work again. Perhaps this is an isolated sign that my particular machine is on its way to the afterlife, but it’s otherwise worked flawlessly to date, so I suspect this may be some funky glitch related to the disc itself.
The disc also throws in a Music Video. We get a clip for “To the Sky” by the appropriately named Owl City. It mixes a few shots of the singer and movie clips. The tune is a pleasant but ordinary “follow your dreams” effort, and the video lacks much to make it memorable.
A second disc provides both a digital copy of Legend for use on computers or digital portable gadgets as well as a DVD copy of the film. This delivers a barebones package, so don’t expect any extras.
Too dull for adults and too intense for kids, I can’t figure out to whom Legend of the Guardians: The Guardians of Ga’Hoole will appeal. I do know that it doesn’t particularly appeal to me; despite gorgeous visuals and a good cast, the movie lacks the needed spirit and excitement. The Blu-ray comes with stellar picture, excellent audio and a decent smattering of supplements. As a Blu-ray, Legend offers demo material, but as a film, it’s mediocre.