Zack Snyder, who turned the graphic novels 300 and Watchmen to box-office gold, links up with Animal Logic, who gave us dancing penguins in Happy Feet, for the story of a young barn owl called Soren who grows up listening to his dad's mythical tales of the Guardians – super-owls who protect the weak.
Captured and imprisoned by the Pure Ones, fascist renegades who brainwash owlets, Soren and his pals must escape and enlist the help of the Guardians. The stars of this computerised epic are the Design and Art departments, who provide stunning landscapes, caves and kingdoms, and whose 3D magic is genuinely thrilling. The trouble is the bloody owls: their features are insufficiently differentiated, the baddies and super-goodies confusingly wear masks and bow before supreme beings in white feathers. And when a pair of 3D talons come flying out of the sky at you for the 2,789th time, you're tempted to yawn. The dark atmosphere and violent fights would scare most under-nines.