(U, 102 min)
Featuring the voices of Amanda Seyfried, Josh Hutcherson, Colin Farrell, Christoph Waltz, Beyonce Knowles, Steven Tyler, Aziz Ansari, Chris O’Dowd, Pitbull, Jason Sudeikis. Director: Chris Wedge.
Based on the children’s book The Leaf Men And The Brave Good Bugs by William Joyce, Epic is a charming fable that could, with clever parental persuasion, inspire the youngest generation to swap their video games for an invigorating spot of housework.
Chris Wedge’s vibrant computer-animated film reveals a long-standing feud between tiny eco-warriors called Leaf Men, who protect Mother Nature and are invisible to humans, and an army of evil-doers called Boggans, who are armed to the sharpened teeth with infectious mould.
In order to protect our parks and forests, and restore sunshine to our gloomy technology-driven society, the dirt and decay must be banished forever.
With some gentle verbal prompting from resourceful mums and dads, those nasty Boggans could be sucked up by vacuum cleaners, dusted off shelves and washed down bathroom sinks in no time at all.
The wanton bribery of pocket money shouldn’t enter into the conversation because Wedge’s film make it abundantly clear that success relies on everyone pulling together.
Indeed, the Leaf Men motto is: “Many leaves, one tree - we’re all individuals but we’re still connected.”
The housework revolution for exhausted parents begins here.
Seventeen-year-old Mary Katherine (voiced by Amanda Seyfried), who prefers MK for short, reluctantly heads out of the city to stay with her madcap father, Professor Bomba (Jason Sudeikis).
Since the death of his wife, Bomba has thrown himself into his study of the little men, who apparently reside in nearby trees and brooks.
“Just because you haven’t seen something doesn’t mean it’s not there,” Peter counsels, staring intently at live feeds from cameras dotted throughout the woods.
Naturally, MK thinks her father has lost his grip on sanity until she is magically shrunk into this fantastical realm of valiant warriors and talking flora.
MK is taken under the wing of Leaf Men rebel Nod (Josh Hutcherson), whose gung-ho actions disappoint his commanding officer, General Ronin (Colin Farrell).
When the rival army of Boggans led by evil Mandrake (Christoph Waltz) attempts to take over the forest and destroy the Leaf Men and their benevolent leader, Queen Tara (Beyonce Knowles), Nod and MK stand side by side against the onslaught.
Directed at a brisk pace by Wedge, who previously helmed Ice Age and Robots, Epic is an enchanting journey of discovery that will inspire pangs of nostalgia for parents who fondly remember the 1989 Disney romp Honey, I Shrunk The Kids.
The 3D format is employed to startling effect during airborne chases, the camera swooping under and over branches at dizzying speed.
Vocal performances are almost as lively as the pristine animation, including some pantomime villainy from two-time Oscar winner Waltz, while Aziz Ansari and Chris O’Dowd provide welcome light relief from the energetic set pieces as wise-cracking molluscs.
Star rating 6