I was sitting on a bench in the sun, reading a novel and passing the time until the next screening. Suddenly a small green insect landed on my arm. Normally, I’d flick it off, or try to transfer it to the nearest plant. Instead I sat and watched it pick its way down towards my hand. A small brown fluffy seed drifted down from the tree above me onto my lap. I stared at it in wonder. The world was infused with mystery, and I was finding beauty in the simplest of places.
Nope, I hadn’t scoffed the wrong batch of brownies. I’d just been to see Epic, the latest movie from the creators of Ice Age, and it had left me with a Wonderland feeling: everything was alive, everything was infinitely interesting.
The storyline is sweet: Mary Katherine, a teenager who has just lost her mother, is sent to live with her absent-minded academic father in the middle of nowhere. His life’s work takes place in the forest alongside his house, where he is convinced that a tiny race of advanced people live and thrive. Is he right, or is he crazy?
It’s an animated kids’ movie, of course he’s right. And naturally, there’s a battle between good and evil. Tara, the beautiful Flower Queen, played by none other than Beyoncé herself (yes, I spent the entire movie thinking “I recognise that voice… I know I do…”) must choose her successor in a ceremony that comes around only once every 100 years: the coincidence of the summer solstice and the full moon.
But there is evil afoot. Mandrake, villanous ruler of the Boggans, sets out to kill the Queen and turn the kingdom of the forest to darkness. Ronan, head of the Leafmen and Queen Tara’s most valiant supporter, leads the battle against him, supported by Nod, rogueish wannabe rebel who gradually learns why his place in the fold is so important. Meanwhile, Mary Katherine has decided that she can’t deal with her father’s ridiculous theories and lack of attention, so sets out on her own. But a mysterious sequence of events catapult her into the world of the tiny forest people, and only she can save the day… if she can work out why she’s there, and how to go about doing it.
Honestly, it’s not the most earth-shattering of stories. It’s not hilarious, like Shrek or Ice Age 1. It’s not immensely moving in the style of Toy Story, or amusingly relatable like Finding Nemo. But it is beautiful. An Avatar for kids, this film will pull you into another world, giving you a breathtaking view of both real and imaginary landscapes that will stick with you long after you leave the cinema. For that alone, it’s worth the trip.