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‘Epic’ kick starts kids’ summer blockbuster season in epic fashion

I am incredibly “geeked-up” about the 2013 summer movie season. But, in a season filled with sequels, superhero films and big-budget blowouts, “Epic” — a tightly packaged, small-budget animated film — is absolutely perfect for the entire family.

Clocking in at slightly more than an hour and a half, the film may appear to be misnamed. But, James Hart, William Joyce and Chris Wedge packed almost as much action into their 110-minute animated feature as Disney packed into more than two and a half hours of “Iron Man 3.”

It’s generally more family friendly, too.

The story centers on a strong-willed, intelligent female protagonist, Mary Katherine (Amanda Seyfried) — or as she now goes, M.K. — who recently lost her mother and has returned to live with her estranged father, Dr. Bomba (Jason Sudeikis). M.K.’s father has devoted his life, to the point of losing everything dear to him, in the pursuit of a micronized society living in the deep forest near his home.

Meanwhile, Nod (Josh Hutcherson), a member of that very society, is struggling with the regimented life of the “leafmen,” the warriors who protect the forest from the evil “bodkins” — led by Mandrake (Christoph Waltz) — who are bent on destroying everything green and living within it. Nod’s father was a leafman, but perished in battle, leaving his son in the care of Ronin (Colin Ferrell), commander of the leafmen.

The time has come for Queen Tara (Beyonce Knowles), whose power ultimately protects the forest and keeps the bodkins at bay, to pick her successor. The bodkins interfere with the selection process, and in the midst of the chaos, M.K. is micronized and drawn into the forest world, and its battle for survival.

It’s a great story, and Danny Elfman provides an incredible soundtrack, but the key to great animation is to capture the “feel” of the world that is being presented. It’s not real, and if the audience can’t “feel” the world the animators have created, it won’t connect on a level that fully appreciates the hard work that was put into the production.

In “Epic,” the audience definitely captures the feel, to the point one feels like he or she is really a part of the world we’re exploring, a world that is very familiar, yet incredibly foreign at the same time. Through M.K., who is new to the forest world, the audience has a medium through which to also explore, discover and learn about this new world.

It is a film that shows the big-budget flicks there’s nothing wrong with going back to the basics in order to create a story with an epic impact. Families who see this film will be impacted by it, in a positive way, and won’t soon forget its message of love sustaining, regardless of the obstacles put in its way.

Also showing at the Capitol II: “Star Trek Into Darkness” — 7 and 9:45 p.m. Friday; 1:30, 4:15, 7 and 9:45 p.m. Saturday; 1:30, 4:15 and 7 p.m. Sunday; 7 p.m. Monday through Thursday.

At the Valle Drive-In: “Fast & Furious 6” and “Identity Thief” — gates open 6:30 p.m., first feature begins at dusk, Friday, Saturday and Sunday. Tickets — $7.50 ages 12 and older, $5 ages 5 to 11, free for ages 4 and younger.

Daily News Editor Bob Eschliman may be contacted at (641) 792-3121, ext. 423, or at

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