Last December, I was one of several people who visited the set of Zack Snyder's next live-action film, "Sucker Punch," and it'll be a while before we're cleared to write about what we saw.  One of the more interesting detours for the day, though, was a presentation of the other film that Zack and his wife/producer Debbie Snyder are working on, a CGI animated film that was called "The Guardians Of Ga'hoole."

I say "was" because as of today, the title has changed.

According to Borys Kit at the HeatVision Blog, the new title for the film is "Legend Of The Guardians."  I can understand that the world "Ga'hoole" might have thrown people before they see the film, but it's a distinct title, and as with "The Secret of NIMH," which this sort of reminds me of, it's a title that hints at a secret and that pays off once you've seen the movie.

The film is all CGI, produced in collaboration with the folks at Animal Logic, who were the primary CGI house on "Happy Feet."  We didn't see much finished work in December, but what we saw was lush and beautiful, and there was a genuinely scary edge to much of the footage, even in rough form.  I think it's a really interesting left turn for Snyder as a director, and I totally understand his desire to make something that his kids can see.  It doesn't feel like he's treating it as something less than his live-action films, though.  Instead, it feels like his sensibility, with the same sort of action choreography.  It's just that the stars of the film are owls and other animals.

The film will be in theaters on September 24, 2010, and it's based on three books out of a 14-book-series by Kathryn Lasky.  It's about  a young owl named Soren, still trying to learn to fly, who finds himself launched into an adventure when he's captured by a group of owls who are building an army.  Soren leads an escape in search of a place called Ga'hoole, where there is supposedly another army being built, determined to stop the owls who kidnapped Soren in the first place.  Drawing largely on Australian talent, the voice cast includes Abbie Cornish, Geoffrey Rush, Hugo Weaving, David Wenham, Sam Neill, Emilie de Ravin, Jay Laga'aia, Helen Mirren, Jim Sturgess, and Miriam Margoyles.

It's going to be interesting to see if the new title helps them make a dent in the marketing awareness on the film.  I expect fans of the books will be irritated by the change, but if it manages to get people interested in the movies, then it's worth it.

We'll have more on the film before its release this fall.

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