UK release: 22nd May 2013
Running time: 102 minutes
Cast: Amanda Seyfried (Mary Katherine), Josh Hutcherson (Nod), Colin Farrell (Ronin), Beyonce Knowles (Queen Tara), Steven Tyler (Nim Galuu), Jason Sudeikis (Bomba), Pitbull (Bufo)
Director: Chris Wedge
Writers: Tom J. Astle, Matt Ember, James V. Hart, William Joyce, Daniel Shere
3D option? Yes
A rather ambitious title, fitting for such an ambitious film.
Loosely based on William Joyce’s children’s book “The Leaf Men and the Brave Good Bugs”, this is one huge adventure in one tiny world.
Mary Katherine (MK) has just lost her mother and now finds herself living with her estranged father. Their first meeting doesn’t go very well at all; her father is pleased to see her but obsessed with his work.
His work being his determination to prove that a tiny race of people called Leafmen live in the forest, and maintain the ecosystems. Understandably MK is rather sceptical about this, and after he brushes off her attempts to connect after years of separation she finally gives up.
On her way out of the door, however she happens upon one of these miniature people, and she is shrunk down and drawn into their world.
Unfortunately it is a very important time for the Leafmen, an important battle between them and the Boggans who are determined to destroy the forest. They must race against time to ensure the magical bud opens in moonlight so that the forest can be saved, and MK is key to the success of the mission. If the Boggan’s bloom the bud then the forest will wither and die…
Cartoon movies have come so far from the days where Disney monopolised the market. Where we had flat, 2D animation and annoying singing every five seconds. Nowadays children’s movie are far more family oriented too; my parents hated the songs on Sleeping Beauty and considered it torture to have to watch it with me, but now family animated movies are geared toward adults too, and strike a balance that make them suitable for younger children yet entertaining for adults. Epic has only one brief song in it, apart from that you’re safe.
Another good thing is the lack of princesses. Yes there is Queen Tara, but the main star, MK, is an ordinary teenage girl that members of the audience will truly be able to relate to. She has family problems, she isn’t amazingly graceful, and she speaks like a normal teenager would. She is perfect and not particularly girly, but very very likable. She tries so hard to make things work with her father, and then once she has been shrunk down she is ready to help the Leafmen in their battles, wvwn when it endangers her life. She is a true modern day heroine.
And I’m still trying to work out who the ‘hero’ is. Technically it should be Nod, her love interest, a young, rash talented rider but with a serious lack of discipline. He does whatever he feels like but he has a good, pure heart. He is very headstrong and very passionate and when it comes down to it he’d do anything to help someone out.
The second contender for hero would be Ronin. From the start he is shown to be Nod’s father figure and a true, upstanding member of the Leafmen army. He has a strong sense of duty and a protective streak.
All of the characters were unique and witty and well created and brought to life fantastically well by their voice actors. All actors were animated and passionate in their roles and it really shone through with the emotional interactions between the characters.
The animation is just breathtaking. Is aw it in 3D and the depth of the forest scenes will truly amaze you. They really take it to town, with vibrant colours for the leaves and flowers, astounding detail for bubbling brooks and breathtaking landscapes as the camera zooms past during chase scenes. Even in the dark, twisted scenes of the Boggin’s homeland it is still light and defined enough to see every detail perfectly.
I really think it’s worth paying the extra for 3D here, it’s used to tremendous effect and the forest scenes alone are enough to make it worth it. But there are many instances where things seem to fall out toward you, the 3D is never forgotten and used to draw you in to the action and make you feel part of the world.
The soundtrack was composed by Danny Elfman, and as you can expect from such a seasoned composer it’s a fitting, fantastic score. The music is uplifting and fast paced to keep your blood pumping, and poignant during the more tender moments of the film. A perfect mix that accompanies rather than distracts from the film. And the music is beautiful enough to stand on its own, so I shall be adding the soundtrack to my collection.
I really cannot recommend this film enough. The characters are all so likable, the scenery breathtaking and the music beautiful. It’s got enough to keep young children entertained, a fantastic plot and plenty to keep adults glued to the screen too. All in all, a truly epic film!
My rating: ★★★★★