Chris Wedge made his feature film directorial debut with the hugely successful Ice Age (2002) that saw a trio of odd-ball animals involved in various frozen scrapes and highjinks and his follow-up was the funny and generally well-received Robots (2005) that saw Robin Williams return to the world of animation voice-over. Wedge wrote that film in collaboration with children’s author and illustrator William Joyce and they have now reunited as Wedge brings one of Joyce’s own tales to the screen in the form of Epic (2013).
The book upon which it was based, The Leaf Men and the Brave Good Bugs, was more renowned for its illustrations (by Joyce himself who has also done conceptual design on films including 1995’s Toy Story) that it’s inventive storytelling. The plot saw the Leaf Men, ‘gardeners of a grand and elfin sort’ called upon by the doodle bugs to vanquish the evil Spider Queen and return an old lady’s garden to its former glory.
Although the trailer itself is light on plot, the film adaptation will be concerned with a teenage girl (Amanda Seyfired) being transported into a secret magical world and stumbling upon a ‘battle deep in the forest between the forces of good and evil’. Whether that evil will be the aforementioned Spider Queen is currently unclear but the trailer suggests some vertigo-inducing 3D action scenes that see leaf men flying on the backs of harnessed birds and battling villains on high tree branches.
It has eschewed Joyce’s darker palette for the bright colours expected from a computer generated animation and there is a strong suggestion, although the dialogue in this preview is very limited, of humour having been injected to soften Joyce’s eerie magical world and to add a bit more spark to the heroic quest undoubtedly lying before our protagonists.
With an all star cast that will hear the voices of Beyonce Knowles, Colin Farrell, Josh Hutcherson and Johnny Knoxville alongside Seyfried, Epic will arrive on screens next year and we can, no doubt, look forward to more revealing footage of the Leaf Men and their foes in the coming months.
Chris Wedge’s Epic is released in UK cinemas on 24 May, 2013.