I'm not entirely sure if children needed their own 'Lord of the Rings' franchise, much less one starring owls, but now they have both. 'Legend of the Guardians: The Owls of Ga'Hoole' is director Zack Snyder's adaptation of the first three books in Kathryn Lasky's acclaimed series of 'Guardians of Ga'Hoole' novels, but with the exception that it's owls and not hobbits who populate its fantastic universe. Snyder's film follows a trajectory similar to that in Peter Jackson's trilogy by focusing on untested dreamers who make a perilous journey over unforgiving terrain in order to rescue themselves and their families from death or enslavement. But what's more remarkable about the film is that its familiarity, to kids and adults alike, is not at all a bad thing.

Snyder, a surprising director commercially (if a perfect one creatively) for material like this, expertly adapts his muscular visual style to the demands of a world filled with warring (if family-friendly) owls, adding another artistic victory with 'Legend of the Guardians' to his already impressive track record.