“Legend of the Guardians” is a fair, but not great movie based on a children’s book. Where does this movie go wrong? The most glaring error is its use (or misuse) of its supporting characters.
A great movie is a well-sculptured whole where the main character’s goals are mirrored in the supporting character’s goals, creating a rich plot with depth and character development. Unfortunately, “Legends of the Guardians” lacks this.
The first problem is that none of the supporting characters have goals of their own. The main character has a goal and a dream, but the other characters do not. There’s a snake who is the hero’s nanny. What’s her goal besides taking care of the baby owls? Nothing.
There’s a kooky owl named Digger who the hero meets along the way. What’s Digger’s goal? Nothing.
There’s another owl that likes playing an instrument and singing songs. What’s his goal? Nothing.
All of these supporting characters are one-dimensional characters who have no goals of their own. Even worse than not having any goals, they serve no purpose in helping the hero either.
At the end of the story where the hero is fighting the evil owl, how does his nanny snake help him achieve his goal? It doesn’t and is nowhere to be seen.
Where is the nutty owl and his friend that plays the instrument all the time? They join the battle, but they don’t appear to help the hero in any direct way. They just seem to be there for the sake of being there.
Now consider a much better movie like “Die Hard.” Bruce Willis’s goal helps the cop, who can’t draw his gun because he once shot a kid, gain the courage to shoot the final terrorist. That was this cop’s goal and he achieved it, which mirrors Bruce Willis’s goal of defeating all the terrorists.
The cop in “Die Hard” doesn’t exist for the sake of existing, but for helping Bruce Willis achieve the final goal as well. In “Die Hard,” the supporting characters are integral parts of the story. In “Legends of the Guardians,” the supporting characters exist for the sake of existing and have no goals of their own nor do they have any bearing on the hero’s ultimate success. So what good are they?
The next time you watch an unsatisfying move, ask yourself if it’s because the supporting characters either don’t have a goal or don’t help the hero achieve a final outcome in anyway. Chances are good that could be the main problem that keeps an okay movie from becoming a great one.