DreamWorks unveils its 3D animated fantasy-adventure Rise of the Guardians in theaters tomorrow (check back for our review) and Blue Sky Studios will use the occasion to premiere a full trailer for its own upcoming digitally-rendered feature Epic - which, like Guardians, is based on a novel written by William Joyce (titled "The Leaf Men and the Brave Good Bugs").
Epic was directed by Chris Wedge, who previously helmed the first Ice Age and Robots; not to mention, he voices everyone's favorite eternally-tormented, acorn-loving, saber-toothed squirrel Scrat. The script has passed hands within an eclectic collection of writers since Wedge first lined up to direct back in 2006, with James V. Hart (Hook, Muppet Treasure Island) - as well as Tom J. Astle and Matt Ember (Failure to Launch, Get Smart) - among those reported to have delivered a draft at some point.
The story revolves around teenage Mary Katherine (voice of Amanda Seyfried, Les Misérables), whose eccentric dad Prof. Bomba (Jason Sudeikis, Horrible Bosses) is convinced that pint-sized leaf men and similar fantastical creatures reside in the depths of a nearby forest. Of course, he turns out to be correct, and soon Mary is magically shrunk down to their size - eventually getting in a battle between forces for good - such as the young leaf man (boy?) Nod (Josh Hutcherson, The Hunger Games) - and the vile Mandrake (Christoph Waltz, Django Unchained), who plans to destroy the mystical small kingdom.
Story-wise, Epic does indeed share specific elements with Ferngully: The Last Rainforest - a comparison you're bound to hear ad nauseum hereon out - but the former seems like a solid (if conventional) hero's journey/coming-of-age fantasy tale on its own terms. The more serious, but still family-friendly, atmosphere and tangible animation style is a refreshing departure from the slapstick-happy style of past Blue Sky 3D animated features - though, some of the celebrity voice-acting might prove to be likewise distracting at times (see: Aziz Ansari as the 'hip' talking slug Mub).
If nothing else, Epic should have no problem standing apart from other computer-animated features arriving in Summer 2013 - including, Monsters University (Pixar's prequel to Monsters, Inc.) and the sequel Despicable Me 2. Moreover, it is refreshing to see more and more animated films with female leads - which are not princess fairy tales, that is (see: next spring's The Croods).
Epic opens in U.S. theaters (2D and 3D) on May 24th, 2013.
Source: iTunes Movie Trailers
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