Legend of the Guardians: The Owls of Ga’Hoole – Movie Review

Legend of the Guardians:  The Owls of Ga’Hoole – Movie Review

Review by Stacey Tuttle

Dreams and reality.  Is there ever a more difficult pair to reconcile?  Sometimes, it is true, reality is so much better than we dreamed.  But more often than not, expectations face a bitter disappointment when they come face to face with what truly is.  The Legends of the Guardians does an interesting job bringing the two together.  Sometimes reality brings the fulfillment of dreams, sometimes it’s the startling disappointment of them. In either case, it is a great opportunity for teaching some valuable lessons.

Let’s start with the disappointments so that we can end on a more positive note.   The first of the disappointments has to do with family.  Family is something we have an innate set of expectations for.  Soren certainly had some idealistic and normal expectations for his relationships with his siblings.  He imagined that they would stick up for each other, defend and protect each other and of course love each other.  Soren definitely loved both of them, despite his older brother, Kludd’s, surly temperament.  But then there is the startling reality that his brother has no such glorious aspirations for their relationship.  In fact, Kludd turns his back on Soren, betrays his sister, Egglantine, and eventually tries to kill Soren.  That is a pretty thorough disappointment. 

The second disappointment has to do with finding out your hero is a mere human.  When Soren met his hero, Lyze of Kiel aka Ezelryb, he expected a glorious warrior.  Instead, he found an eccentric, scarred and mangled old bird.  As someone in the movie said, and I think it was Ezelryb, “It’s hard meeting your hero and finding out he’s not what you expect.” This wasn’t the same magnitude of disappointment maybe as finding out your brother wants to murder you.  However, Soren knew his brother was angry and difficult.  As disappointing as it was, it may not have been a surprise.  The disappointment he faced in meeting his hero had the compounding effect of being a total surprise. 

The third disappointment in the movie has to do with career.  We all have some career, some future for ourselves which seems glorious.  Something that, when we get there, will be exhilarating and fulfilling.  For Soren, it was being a warrior, fighting in battle.  Soren’s warrior hero, Ezylryb, explained the disappointing reality to him, “Fighting in battle is not beautiful and it’s not heroic.  It’s just the right thing to do—even if you wind up looking like this” (referring to his mangled self).  Such a disappointment to find out that the very thing you longed to do, the thing you thought would be glorious, actually involves ugliness, pain, sorrow, fear and sacrifice. 

But there is something which supercedes his expectations.  Soren had grown up telling, retelling and acting out the stories of the Guardians of Ga’Hoole.  Only, Soren had been told they were mere legends, fables that were likely made up.  He didn’t actually know that they were true.  His dad, however, once told him that “your dreams are who you are.”  So Soren took that to heart and he dreamed good dreams.  He dreamed of Ezylryb, a noble, valiant warrior.  He dreamed of an order of owl nights who “made strong the weak, mended the broken and vanquished the evil.”  Those were great dreams, character forming kinds of dreams.  While he didn’t know if they were true, he had been told that “stories are a part of our culture and our history.  We learn from them.”  It’s true, we learn from stories whether or not they are true.  And so Soren learned from the best kind of stories.  And to his wonderful surprise, those best kinds of stories, those stories of things noble, kind, true and good, those stories of heroes…they turned out to be true! 

Soren had a lot of hopes and expectations that may not have been realistic.  That doesn’t make them bad – surely it’s a good thing to want to have a great relationship with your siblings!  He may not have been realistic about what war was going to be like, or what his hero would look like.  However, Soren did dream about the right kinds of things.  And it was because he had the right kinds of dreams that he wasn’t ruined by the disappointments in his life.

Soren’s character was shaped by believing that people could make a difference in the world.  He believed you could make strong the weak, even if it was your brother whose weakness was in his character.  Soren also believed that evil could be vanquished – this was more powerful than the desire to please his brother and allowed Soren to escape his corrupting influence.  It also strengthened him to be willing to do the right thing and fight, even after he learned that war was not the glorious battle he had imagined it to be.  And Soren’s own depth of character enabled him to see past the disappointing physical appearance of his hero, Lyze, and to value his depth of character, wisdom and skill. 

The one area which didn’t disappoint Soren was the one which mattered the most, and the one which gave him the ability to face the other times in his life when dreams and reality were not quite the same. 

In our own lives, we are bound to face a lot of clashes between expectations and reality.  But like Soren, we need to be sure the one thing we choose wisely is what “legends” are we going to believe in and fill our minds with?  What stories are going to shape us?  What dreams are going to define us?  Have you found a hero who is great enough to be worth believing in?  They say that Jesus was nothing in appearance that you would notice him, but He is the Hero of all Heroes.  He did mighty things, miraculous things.  His teachings are the very words of God.  And get this, we are promised that when we hope in Him, we will never be disappointed.[1]  Not only that, but if you will fill your minds with the stuff of God and his son, Jesus, rest assured, you will be equipped to handle life and any disappointment it throws your way. 

Questions for Discussion:

  • When have you faced disappointment because your expectations or your dreams didn’t match up with reality?
  • When has reality been better than you dreamed?
  • What stories do you love?  What stories have shaped your character?
  • Have you chosen to believe in and fill your minds with the “legends” of God?
  • How do you think faith in God might help you remain hopeful when life is disappointing?


[1] See Romans 5