“Many leaves, one tree,” says Ronin (voice of Colin Farrell), leader of the Leafmen, diminutive warriors who protect the forest. “We are individuals, but we’re all connected. It’s what we live by,” he says earnestly. Seventeen-year old human, MK (voice of Amanda Seyfried), suddenly miniaturized, is Alice in this tiny green wonderland. There she meets Nod (Josh Hutcherson), young Leafman-in-training. That’s the setup for this computer-animated fantasy.
Can MK, Nod, Ronin and the Leafmen keep the forest safe from diabolical Mandrake (Christoph Waltz), whose legions of evil Boggans plot to kill everything that grows? Will MK bond with her estranged biologist father Professor Bomba (Jason Sudeikis)? Will Nod and MK get together? For answers, see “Epic,” a visual treat with a somewhat tedious storyline.
Amanda Seyfried and Josh Hutcherson are voices for MK (aka Mary Katherine) and the young Leafman, Nod. She’s feisty and has parental issues: her mother has died, leaving MK with her eccentric and ditzy biologist father, voiced by Jason Sudeikis. The scientific community discredited Bomba for “delusional belief” in a microscopic forest universe of tiny people. “Just because you haven’t seen something,” he says, “doesn’t mean it’s not there.” Nod, too, has parental issues: his father died (heroically we’re told), and Ronin has stepped into the paternal role, but Nod doesn’t take directions well. “You can’t think of anything except yourself,” Ronin says, after Nod screws up again. Colin Farrell is the sage, Irish voice of Ronin in this Celtic-inspired tale.
Others in the cast include Beyonce Knowles as dulcet Tara, beloved forest Queen, who must choose an heir, ASAP. Chris O’Dowd and Aziz Ansari are voices of Grub, a snail, and Mub, a slug. Comic characters, Grub and Mub will entertain youngsters but few else. Christoph Waltz is gray-skinned Mandrake, plotting to spread darkness, decay and demise. Steve Tyler is the voice of Nim Galuu, an old caterpillar who does seem to belong in Alice’s Wonderland.
“Epic” is a beautifully animated fantasy, full of visual pleasures but not much else, at least for the over-10 crowd. William Joyce – with five others – wrote the script, based on his book. Chris Wedge directed. Young kids will like Mub, Grub, Ozzie the dog and the action sequences. But, aside from production design and visual references to “Avatar,” “Star Wars,” "Lord of the Rings,” "Lion King,” “Jurassic Park,” and other films, there’s not much for everyone else. The ecological lesson is clear – “We’re all many leaves, but just one tree.”
Rated PG for mild action, images and brief rude language, “Epic” runs 102 minutes. For a really good little-people movie, I recommend “The Secret World of Arrietty” (2010).
Tiny folks we can’t see,
“Epic’s” got a lot,
Animation’s lots of fun,
Alas, the plot is not.