When adapting children’s books into movie, it’s a bit of a mixed bag. Usually the book isn’t long enough to sustain a full-length movie, so the screenwriters must add to the plot in order to fill out the script, which can either make it a whimsical satire like Shrek or an over-the-top farce like Cloudy With a Chance of Meatballs.
Blue Sky Studios’ Epic is the latest children’s book to be adapted into a stunning CGI-animated film, this time from William Joyce’s The Leaf Men and the Brave Good Bugs. Though the film is a bit slow at times, Epic manages to do its title justice.
After the death of her mother, Mary Katherine (voiced by Amanda Seyfried) is forced to go live with her eccentric father Professor Bomba (Jason Sudeikis), who she hasn’t seen in years. Bomba has spent his life trying to prove his theory of a race of tiny men who protect the forest, which, naturally Mary Katherine — like everyone else — does not believe.
That is, until she is magically shrunk down after the death of Queen Tara (Beyonce Knowles), who watched over and healed the forest, and now Mary Katherine is tasked with protecting the chosen pod before it blooms in the full moon, which will become the heir to protect the forest. With the help of veteran leaf man Ronin (Colin Farrell), rookie leaf man recruit Nod (Josh Hutcherson), adventurous snail Grub (Chris O’Dowd), and smooth-talking slug Mub (Aziz Ansari), Mary Katherine must face insurmountable odds and a race against time to get the pod to its proper place before the Boggans, led by the evil Mandrake (Christoph Waltz), get to it first.
Director Chris Wedge (Ice Age) returns to Blue Sky Studios once more, and, with the help of writers James V. Hart (August Rush), Daniel Shere (short film “George Lucas In Love”), Tom J. Astle and Matt Ember (2008’s Get Smart), as well as author William Joyce himself, creates the magical world of the Leaf Men and Boggans. The animation is stunning, looking almost life-like, often times seeming more live-action than a simple cartoon.
While the title seems a little ostentatious, Epic is not far off. Though the second act drags a little, the action is fairly intense, the voice cast (which also includes Aerosmith vocalist Steven Tyler and Judah Friedlander) is incredible, and the emotions run deep, almost reaching the quality of films like How to Train Your Dragon, which both children and adults can appreciate.
Where many people may dismiss this as a remake of FernGully, do not be fooled. Unlike what the trailers may show, this is not another “go green” film. No, the film does not focus on man-made pollution, but a battle between the Leaf Men and the Boggans (who cause natural rot and decay), and humans are nothing more than a joke to both races. The film stands on its own merits, and is quite enjoyable if you give it the time.
FINAL VERDICT: Epic may be a grandiose title for a movie like this, but, believe it or not, is fairly accurate. While not as incredible as other recent animated titles like Rise of the Guardians or Brave, Epic stands on its own, and entertains both children and adults.