The film's PG rating should be heeded. The Legend of the Guardians includes some well orchestrated action sequences, but the intensity level and themes of betrayal will likely put it out-of-bounds for younger children. In fact, the film is rather dour and serious, confronting issues of class, oppression and extermination—not the usual lighthearted family fare.

Snyder doesn't let that seriousness overwhelm the proceedings, keeping things moving at a good clip and judiciously dropping in some much-needed humor along the way. He's made the most of the 3D presentation here, and has once again showed off his strengths as a visual artist. However, parents are advised to exercise caution when considering the film's appropriateness for younger children and those who are easily frightened.

The Legend of the Guardians is not without merit, but the lingering impression is of how much better it could have been had the story been split into at least one additional film. That would have given the characters a bit more room to be introduced, allowing for their distinctive traits to become clearer and more endearing to the audience. A sequel might shed light on the original, minimizing its weaknesses over time, but on its own, Legend is a potentially powerful story muted by its compression into a 90-minute running time.

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  • Language/Profanity:  An owl says he hates the Pure Ones, and hates what he's become.

  • Smoking/Drinking/Drugs:  None.

  • Sex/Nudity:  None.

  • Violence:  Owls are seen snatching mice and birds in their claws, but the prey is not shown being killed and is sometimes set free; later, owls are shown eating grubs; an owl vomits up his first "pellet"; owls are attacked by an animal; a flashback to a traumatic event involving the Pure Ones; owls flee an attack; a queen owl tries to kill another owl; owls are "moonblinked"—similar to paralyzed—by the Pure Ones; an owl falls into a fire.

  • Religion/Morals:  Comments about believing in things you can't see, and the power of stories and tradition to affect us; owls are ordered to serve the Pure Ones; a porcupine speaks of several things that were "foretold"; the strong are said to rule the weak; the owls believe that "through our gizzards the voices of the angels speak to us"; fighting in battles is said to be not heroic, but "what's right"; the guardians are said to mend the broken, make strong the weak and vanquish evil.