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A few months back I was at a screening when the first preview for this fall’s big animated fantasy, “Legend of the Guardians: The Owls of Ga’Hoole,” was shown. With its portentous baritone narration (“Legend tells of a band of warriors . . . “), heroic attempts to lip-synch bird beaks to human dialogue, fist-pumping scenes of slow-motion battle between strangely synthetic-looking owls (wearing helmets, no less), all set to an overdone emo anthem by 30 Seconds To Mars, it looked like this was going to be “300” with birds, the best genre parody since “Team America.”

Wrong. It turns out that “Legend of the Guardians” is entirely serious, and it is actually directed by the “300” man himself, Zack Snyder. But when your totally earnest fantasy epic comes off looking like self-parody, you just might have a problem. (And even as I type this, I can already hear the Internet-fanboy contingent having a collective meltdown.)

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