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Five Hearts

"Trust Your Gizzard!"

Written by Steven Walker

I love gizzards.  They’re an acquired taste and you need good, healthy jaw muscles, but ‘em are some good eating.  There’s a place in Austin called Terry’s Seafood & Chicken that serves the best gizzards I’ve ever had. 

Anyway, there is one word that can sum up the experience of watching Legend of the Awkward Title and that word is ‘rushed.’  I want to love this movie.  It is easily one of the most beautiful looking movies ever, and I’m not joking.  The animation in this movie is astounding.  The character design, the action scenes, the use of 3D…all stellar.  I have no doubt this will be a demo-quality disc when it hits Blu-ray.  It also has a high caliber of voice talent with names like Geoffrey Rush, Helen Mirren, Anthony LaPaglia, Hugo Weaving, Sam Neil, and David Wenham. 

But the script. Oh, the script.  Zack Synder proves once again that anything he directs will look fantastic but be entirely dependent on the quality of the script. This movie has three hours worth of story crammed into 80 minutes and enough characters to justify a full season of television. It is too much, too soon, too fast and then it’s over.  You barely have time to process everything being thrown at you, much less invest in it.  You get the impression that a deep and well-thought-out world has been crafted here, but you get such brief and fleeting glimpses into it that it never has time to resonate.

Other things, like the way owls tells each other to ‘trust your gizzard’ in the same way a human would say ‘trust your heart’ are repeated so often as to achieve unintentional hilarity.   

All of the characters are caricatures who fulfill their obvious roles with paint-by-numbers inevitability.  Comic relief characters appear with no purpose beyond comic relief, but the fact that they aren’t funny calls painful attention to their pointlessness.  Some really weird elements such as a motherly snake who is nanny to the owls (!?), and the idea that owl regurgitations contain flecks of a magic, electrified metal (!?!?!?!?) go completely unexplained.     

The film is also hurt by some jarring musical choices.  Most of the film has a rather good original score, but halfway through it embarks on a good ole training montage set to a truly wretched pop song called “Take to the Skies.”  It’s a head-scratching choice that yanks you out of the movie just when it was on the verge of finally pulling you in.  Then, during a visually inspired climatic scene involving our hero flying through a burning forest, the score is again usurped by a pre-existing piece of music that was most recently used to infinitely better effect in Frank Darabont’s The Mist.  So right at the height of drama when I should be fully focused on the action at hand, a bad soundtrack decision disconnects me from the story and has me thinking about a better film.

It also commits a major cinematic sin in my book.  The villain is a Darth Vader-esque owl named Metalbeak who has to wear a mask to cover hideous battle scars.  If you introduce a character like that to me, you had better damn well take that mask off at some point and show me those scars or have one hell of a good reason not to.  Needless to say, we never see under the mask.

In the end, it’s all about making me care.  The story is really about the owl brothers of Soren and Kludd, who are kidnapped from their parents before they learn how to fly and end up getting recruited and trained by two opposing armies.  Not nearly enough time is spent establishing their relationship to make their separation and eventual confrontation carry any emotional weight.  That problem is continuous throughout the film.  It presents you with moments that are supposed to be very dramatic and emotional, but it has not taken the time to earn those emotions.  I see it, but I don’t feel it.

Which is very sad because if this movie had made me feel it…it would have been quite something. 




Copyright 2008 Flaming Heart Enterprises, L.L.C.