We've had dinosaurs, dogs, rats and penguins so why not owls? For his first animated adventure ‘300’ director Zach Snyder has decided to don 3D spectacles and focus on the less explored lives of the much loved feathered wise ones.

The result is a feature filled with stunning landscapes and scenes breathtaking enough to rival James Cameron’s ‘Avatar’. However the Oscar winner's records will remain intact as ‘Legend of the Guardians’ is one for the kids and despite the PG cert, the films’ dark undertones will not tickle the ‘Shrek’ loving sensibilities of the young ones.

What will thrill both adults and kids alike is Warner Bros opening 3D ‘Road Runner’ trailer. Never before has the coyote looked so good – he’s a kinder, softer, tangible version of his bad self and Road Runner is just as unattainable but faster than ever before.

Enter Snyder’s feature which is based on the children's book series ‘Guardians of Ga’Hoole’ and follows a young owl, eager to spread his wings and sample life but is thwarted by an evil owl, forcing him to grow up and seek out the legendary guardians to stop the villain before he ruins their world.

The tone of this family-focused film is more ‘Brothers Grimm’ than ‘Happy Feet’, (which co-incidentally is made by the same Australian company) the protagonists facing serious moral issues. The advice is to follow your gut, or gizzard, instinct to navigate through life. In terms of style, colour and music, it's akin to a 3D animated ‘Lord of the Rings’.

The CGI is amazing, the detail of each individual feather on even the tiniest of owlets is something else. There’s the usual ducking and diving 3D moments but the birds are an ideal way to enjoy the cinematic gift of the genre, as they explore their environs with the audience on their wings. Snyder’s usual visual flair jumps off the screen, particularly during the fight scenes. His voice cast work so well that the focus is on the characters and the story as opposed to spot-the-A-lister.

In terms of shades of light and dark 'Legend of the Guardians' could definitely have done with more of the former. The film looks great but lacks two of the most important ingredients for a kids' box-office hit, heart and huggable characters. Fear not, early next year it's back to business for Snyder; He describes his 'Sucker Punch' as “a twisted Alice and Wonderland with guns” plus there's more 3D flying mayhem with the 'Superman' reboot.

Taragh Loughrey-Grant