Back in 2006, “Ice Age” director Chris Wedge announced that his next directorial effort would be “Leaf Men,” based on the William Joyce children’s book “The Leaf Men and the Brave Good Bugs.” (Joyce also conceived and co-produced this week’s big animated extravaganza, “Rise of the Guardians.”) Fox, the company that owns Blue Sky Studios, the animation studio that Wedge co-founded and runs out of a Greenwich, Connecticut campus, was unimpressed with his proposal and Wedge very nearly packed his bags, bringing the project to Pixar and his old chum John Lasseter (they had worked together on “TRON“). In 2009, Fox agreed to give “Leaf Men” the greenlight and now, in 2012, we’re finally seeing the final, long-form trailer, now titled “Epic.” If nothing else it looks like it lives up to its new name.
Very loosely based on the source material, it’s general plot looks very “Honey, I Shrunk the Kids” mixed with dollops of “Fern Gully” or “Avatar” or something similarly eco-conscious, with a young girl (voiced by Amanda Seyfried) accidentally shrunk to microscopic size while on the hunt for her crackpot scientist father Bomba (Jason Sudeikis).
The second half of the trailer, which showcase the movie’s stunning visual scope (we love the little soldiers riding on the backs of hummingbirds), is absolutely jaw dropping, although we wish some of the moments (like the back of a tree exposing a squadron of camouflaged warriors) had been saved for when we got to watch the actual movie. While 3D is never something we actively look forward to, it’s hard not to admit that this is going to look really, really cool with added dimensionality.
Of course, Fox’s stunt casting when it comes to vocal talent hurts the otherwise lovely trailer; hearing Aziz Ansari (who was just in another Blue Sky movie, “Ice Age: Continental Drift“) do his jive talking homeboy shtick while playing an anthropomorphic slug is borderline disastrous. Still, the visuals and a strong story (plus a sweeping new score by Danny Elfman) should lift “Epic” above its occasional iffy casting. And yes, fantasy saga looks like it could be, well, it just might be epic.
“Epic” opens May 24th, 2013. [via The Film Stage]