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Based on the bestseller by Kathryn Lasky, this animated adaptation “from the studio that brought you Happy Feet” seeks to kick off an epic adventure franchise for kids, but it suffers from unfamiliar vocal performances (from indie world and television B-listers like Jim Sturgess, Joel Edgerton, Abbie Cornish and Anthony LaPaglia) and the startlingly violent approach of director Zack Snyder.

Yes, the Zack Snyder that gave us the remake of Dawn of the Dead, 300, and Watchmen is helming a children’s fantasy about a war among the owl kingdom, complete with photorealistic images of owls caught in agonizing slow-motion battles with metal talons, cutlasses and ornately fetishized headgear that’s straight out of 300.

The film never truly reconciles the incongruities of having owls outfitted with such hardware, which is a problem that rests squarely on the shoulders of screenwriters John Orloff (A Mighty Heart) and Emil Stern (The Life Before Her Eyes).

Yet this Legend might have soared with a more kid-friendly visionary leading the charge. Grade: D-plus