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Epic (3D)


Stars: Voices: Amanda Seyfried, Josh Hutcherson, Colin Farrell, Jason Sudeikis, Christoph Waltz, Beyoncé Knowles, Chris O'Dowd, Aziz Ansari, Steven Tyler, Pitbull, Helen Hong, Emma Kenney, Blake Anderson

Director: Chris Weitz

Fox Animation is still struggling to find something to match the success of their Ice Age movies, and this one's likely to come and go as quickly as the hummingbirds that act as steeds for the slim, inch-high Leafmen, who protect the Forest from the ravages of the Boogans, who'd like to see the whole area turned into a mass of desolation and decay.

Into this world steps yet another red-haired cartoon heroine in the shape of MK (Seyfried), teenage daughter of a professor (Sudeikis), whose researches into woodland life have convinced him that the little people there do exist.

During a pitched battle between Leafmen and Boogans, the Leaf Queen (Knowles) is mortally wounded and lands at the feet of MK, clutching the flower-pod that will evolve into the next queen as long as it blooms in sunlight. In no time, MK, just as in Arthur and the Invisibles, has been shrunk to Leafperson size and makes the acquaintance of reckless young Nod (Hutcherson) and his grumpy guardian Ronin (Farrell), the latter leading the Leafmen in their efforts to prevent Boogan chief Mandrake (Waltz) from laying waste to the Forest.

Comic relief is provided by a slug and snail (Ansari, O'Dowd) and a wheeler-dealer toad, Mr Bufo (Tyler) - bufo's Latin for toad, doncha know - who dresses just like the one from Toad Hall.

It's all quite sweet, but pretty underwhelming; even the one musical number, sung by the caterpillar keeper of the Scrolls (Tyler), is cut short for more humdrum chat between the leading characters who, dominated by such CGI effects as a massive army of bats, don't have much personality. Still, there's quite a bit of action, and younger children will be perfectly happy with the film, even though it is, by today's exacting standards, fairly moderate. Why it's called Epic, Heaven knows.

David Quinlan

USA 2013. UK Distributor: 20th Century Fox. Colour by deluxe.
102 minutes. Widescreen. UK certificate: U.

Guidance ratings (out of 3): Sex/nudity 0, Violence/Horror 0, Drugs 0, Swearing 0.

Review date: 21 May 2013