This may have been one of the more bizarre films I've seen this year. In Zack Snyder's digitally animated family film, adapted from Kathryn Lasky's books, talking owls engage in a colossal owl-on-owl battle for the very future of owldom. Leading the "good" owls is a young owlet named Sorin, who is captured by "bad" owls (who refer to themselves as "Pure Ones," so that's confusing). The bad owls, who have also enslaved (non-talking) bats, are looking to take over the owl world, which includes some valuable real estate beyond the horizon known as Ga'hoole. Sorin, who escapes from the bad owls, along with a girl (I think) owlet, winds up in Ga'hoole, where he is schooled in hyper-flying -- and learning to "trust his gizzard" -- by a beat-up old owl warrior.
In time, the Ga'hoolites and the owlets head back to the cave lair of the Pure Ones, where some really freaky stuff involving blue light extracted from undigested mice is going on. Owls good and bad don metal helmets and talons (the owls put fake talons on real talons) -- and the battle rages. The climactic confrontation is a confusing mess -- I had trouble keep track of which owl was which even during peacetime. And the spectacle of strapped owls trying to kill one another looked like -- well, a very expensively produced 3-D cockfight. Overall, the movie was on the dull side and salvaged only by it sheer loopiness: Imagine your favorite young-hero epic adventure, say Star Wars, Harry Potter or Lord of the Rings, but starring a bunch of owls -- owls who hug, have snake nannies and wear a lot of fetish gear. It's a hoot, of a sort. Screening in 3-D in select theaters.