Reviewed by: Amber Wilkinson

Put thoughts of Epic Movie from your mind - we're in fairytale territory here, although some sort of woodland moniker would have been a better fit for this eco-friendly family animation.

Teenager Mary Katherine (Amanda Seyfried) - "I'm called MK now" - is moving in with her scientist dad Professor Bomba (Jason Sudeikis) after the death of her mum and finds her bedroom stuck in a timewarp and her dad so stuck in his work he barely seems to notice her. His lifetime quest is to catch sight of the little Leafmen that he's sure live in the neighbouring woods and he has set up a network of cameras and doohickeys in an attempt to catch their movements.

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MK suspects living alone has made him delusional but dad is determined - "Just because you haven't seen something, doesn't mean it's not there."

Of course, in the way of many good children's stories, MK is about to get to see for herself, when a chance encounter with queen of Moonhaven (Beyonce Knowles) shrinks her down to the size of a grasshopper and thrusts her into a battle to save the green and pleasant forest from the hands of the evil Mandrake (Christoph Waltz, loving every minute of it), who is "sick of balance" and determined to rot the landscape with his army of Boggans.

On hand to help are rebellious teenager and sometime Leafman warrior Nod (Josh Hutcherson), his surrogate dad Ronin (Colin Farrell) and the best things in the film - a genuinely funny slug and snail double act Mub (Aziz Ansari) and Grub (Chris O'Dowd).

Ideas familiar (one hesitates to say pilfered) from children's classics - including Alice In Wonderland, The Wizard Of Oz and The Borrowers, to name but three - give the film a familiar, old fashioned feel, while parents and children learning to recognise one another's strengths is the dominant theme. The storytellers at Blue Sky Studios - previously responsible for the Ice Age films among others - always seem to want to cram an incredible amount of incident into their films, which does work against them. Sometimes you can't help wishing the characters would stop running about, so that we could get to know them a bit more.

Still, the action sequences - including some impressive hummingbird flights through the forest and an assault course escape from MK's three-legged dog Ozzie - are lushly and immersively shot. They also make good use of the 3D landscape, if you do want to pay out the extra cash, although I'm sure young children will enjoy it as much, if not more, without having to fiddle about with glasses. Music from Danny Elfman helps things to bounce along nicely, while Mub and Grub get all the best lines. This Epic is unlikely to go down in family animation legend but it's a perfectly respectable couple of hours of entertainment that is suitable for all ages.

Reviewed on: 21 May 2013
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A teenager shrunk to the size of the leaf people in her father's garden must fight evil forces to save the world.
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Read more Epic reviews:

David Graham ****

Director: Chris Wedge

Writer: James V Hart, Tom J Astle, Matt Ember, from the novel by William Joyce

Starring: Amanda Seyfried, Colin Farrell, Josh Hutcherson, Christoph Waltz, Beyoncé Knowles, Aziz Ansari, Chris O'Dowd, Steven Tyler

Year: 2013

Runtime: 102 minutes

BBFC: PG - Parental Guidance

Country: US


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