This one I recommend.

This one’s worth checking out.

M.K. meets the Leafmen.

M.K. meets the Leafmen.

Good but short on the 'epic'.

Good but short on the ‘epic’.

When a film promises so surely that it is going to be something “epic”, a fairy tale about forest fairies and talking slugs isn’t the first thing that pops into my mind. What I just described, dear readers, is the premise of Blue Sky’s latest film Epic.

What’s most interesting about the movie, maybe, is the fact that, for some reason, this year it was Dreamworks that gave us the silly slapstick comedy about prehistoric creatures (see The Croods) whilst Blue Sky that gave us the fast-paced Fantasy movie. It makes you wonder if this is a new trend of sorts. I mean, did this happened because Disney made a smart and exciting family film (Wreck-It Ralph) and left the task of making the boring princess movie to sub-studio Pixar (Brave), thus prompting Blue Sky to want to trade places with Dreamworks for a bit? Who knows?

Either way, the story of Epic revolves around the society of The Leafmen, tiny humanoid creatures which are sworn to protect their forest from the evil Mandrake (Christoph Waltz), the leader of the destrutive Boggans. On the day when it is time for the queen of the forest, Tara (voiced, for some reason, by Beyonce Knowles), to choose an heir to the throne, Mandrake finally performs an attack on the Leafmen and succesfully takes down the queen after a chase on hummingbird backs. The leaf pod which  would have given birth to Tara’s heir lands within the hands of a young girl named M.K. (Amanda Seyfried), the daughter of the only human to suspect that the society of Leafmen exists, a crazed professor named Bomba (Jason Sudeikis). The tarnished relationship between M.K. and her father is a touching subplot.

Shrunk to Leafman size by the pod (somehow), M.K. is asked by the queen to bring it to a Glowworm named Nim Galuu (voiced by Steven Tyler) and accompanied by a young and rebellious Leafman named Nod (Josh Hutcherson), his much more competent mentor Ronin (Colin Farell) and two idiotic snails voiced by Aziz Ansari and Chris O’Dowd (Oops, sorry. The former is a slug.), she is soon on her way. Fighting off both the forces of Mandrake and a occasionally a shady bullfrog voiced by Pitbull, they have to make their way to the home of Nim Galuu before the pod is acquired by the Boggans, subjecting the woods to eternal Boggan rule.

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Left to right: Grub, Nim Galuu, Mub, Tara, Bomba, Nod, M.K., Ronin, Bufo and Mandrake.

The film reminds me somewhat of both Honey, I Shrunk The Kids and FernGully, but is in fact based on a book by William Joyce, namely The Leaf Men and the Brave Good Bugs. I’ll admit it: Epic does have a better ring to it as far as titles go. The director is Chris Wedge, who directed the first Ice Age movie, but only produced its worsening sequels. As far as I’m concerned, he proves with Epic that he still seems to know how to make a good film.

While the story, as I mentioned, may not be entirely original, Epic still allows for some very interesting Fantasy concepts and enjoyable ideas based around the way the Leafmen and Boggans work. You know that rot you will often find on stumps or logs? Yeah, apparently the Boggans created that. You know why flies are so difficult to swat? Well, because small creatures exist on a plain of reality where time moves a bit faster. Things like that are always good fun.

Visually, the film is also intriguing. The forest in this film looks absolutely amazing and along with that we get a multitude of enthralling scenes where the characters fly on birds or use their miniscule weight to jump around like John Carter. Being a family film, however, where it sometimes falls flat is in its occasional lame and immature jokes, mostly delivered by the snail and the slug, inserted to make sure that the 5-year olds aren’t bored. But seeing as there is also a lot of action and beautiful imagery, there are not too many of these jokes.

Overall, I am willing to declare that Epic is a good time. Not a great one, but good. Most of the characters hold your attention (my favourites are M.K., one of the most accurate and believable teenaged girl characters I’ve seen in an animated film, and Christoph Waltz as the bad guy), some of the ideas are quite cool, the visuals are captivating, the chemistry between Ronin and Nod allows for many laughs, the romantic subplot between Nod and M.K. never gets too much in the way, some of the designs gave me Alice in Wonderland flashbacks and the action scenes, while sometimes a bit rushed, are still fun enough. You can definitely take your kids to see it, but don’t let the title make you think that it’s going to be all that memorably epic.

3.5/5 whatever

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