Well, a movie calling itself “Epic” should probably kick off with an appropriately epic trailer. While we didn’t quite get that with this, the first glimpse from the Fox/Blue Sky Studios‘ (loose) adaptation of the William Joyce book “The Leaf Men and the Brave Good Bugs,” it’s still a promising-enough looking clip that draws us into a strange and magical world.
The premise of the film involves a teenage girl (played by Amanda Seyfried, who can be heard at the end of the trailer), who gets transported into the magical and miniaturized world of the leaf men. It’s here that she joins a fight against some evil goblins (or something), again, the movie is very different from the children’s book and we’re not sure what’s been retained and what’s been changed or jettisoned.
“Epic” has had a really amazing production history almost as epic as anything they can put on screen. It’s the first film in more than a half-decade by Chris Wedge, the Blue Sky Studios’ John Lasseter equivalent who had directed the first “Ice Age” and “Robots” for the company (and put Blue Sky on the map with his Oscar-winning “Bunny” animated short). When Fox, Blue Sky’s parent company, balked at his idea of turning the ‘Leaf Men’ property into a book, he got the go ahead to shop the project elsewhere. And where did he go? To Pixar, of course! Wedge and Lasseter had been buds since Wedge contributed to the computer-animated sequences from the original “TRON” (Lasseter was wildly impressed with Wedge’s work on the film, which inspired his interest in computer animation) and Lasseter was gung ho about bringing Wedge and his team over to work on the project.
When Disney and Pixar made a move to secure the rights to the project and start bringing the artists over, Fox stood fast, refusing to let Wedge out of his contract and the project out of their control. (At the time of this back-and-forth Wedge was also developing “Hugo” at Warner Bros. as his live action debut. We all know how that turned out.) So Wedge was stuck at Blue Sky, but he was still given the go-ahead to work on ‘Leaf Men’ (as it was known up until a few short months ago). We’ve seen various designs and footage from “Epic” over the past few weeks and, visually at least, this thing is going to be a stunner.
The trailer, which is set to the “What If This Storm Ends?” section of the multi-tiered Snow Patrol song “The Lightning Strike,” looks intriguing enough. It begins with a man with an elaborate microscopic glasses set up (not unlike Rick Moranis in “Honey, I Shrunk The Kids“), grabbing a humming bird and noticing a small harness on its back. Small harness!?!? Why that would suggest a race of tiny people, who have to team up with their creature neighbors to defeat some evil, shark-faced goblins! Of course!
The visuals are lush and spellbinding, both naturalistic and fantastical – and pushing the miniaturized view of things to a ridiculously amazing degree. (In 3D, it should be even more jaw dropping.) Also, we like the joke where the leaf man is hanging on to the eyestalks of a slug played by Aziz Ansari. Treat yo self!
Beyonce Knowles, Colin Farrell, Josh Hutcherson, Johnny Knoxville, Pitbull, Jason Sudeikis, Steven Tyler, Blake Anderson and Judah Friedlander round out the cast of “Epic,” which is set to debut on May 24th, 2013.