Yeah, okay. That's pretty epic.
An animated fantasy adventure, based on William Joyce
's The Leaf Men and the Brave Good Bugs
. The film features a teenage girl, Mary Katherine, who finds herself thrown into
the world of the Leaf Men, protectors of the forest, and a battle "between the forces of good and evil". It is produced by Blue Sky Studios
, and directed by Chris Wedge
The first trailer can be viewed here
, and the second here.
Now with character sheet
Epic provides examples of the following tropes:
- 3-D Movie
- Adaptation Expansion/In Name Only: Probably the loosest adaptation of a Joyce work to date.
- All Just a Dream: Averted. MK just really, really wishes it was.
- An Aesop: "Many leaves. One tree."
- Anyone Can Die: The Leafmen's queen dies, Mandrake's son dies, a Boggan is seen falling down onto a car windshield and is just wiped off like a swatted fly, and who knows how many more sacrificed their lives in this battle.
- Artistic License – Biology: What the good vs. evil element can seem like. The rot-loving Boggans are the bad guys, despite the fact decay is just as much a part of nature as growth is.
- This isn't that at all - the Leafmen say that they need to maintain the balance, not actually destroy the Boggans.
- Mub and Grub are portrayed with teeth on the inside of the mouth and a human-like tongue. Mollusk jaws are nothing like that at all. Instead, a tongue-like organ called the radula (which is covered with teeth) is used to cut food. Putting their teeth on their tongue would be more realistic.
- Ascended Fanboy: The flower kid, who idolized Queen Tara and wanted to be just like her, is chosen to be her heir when the pod blooms under the full moon.
- Grub also joins the ranks of the Leafmen by the end of the film.
- Badass Army: The Leafmen, being incredibly structured and full of competent warriors.
- Balance Between Good and Evil: Between the forces of the forest (good) and the forces of rot (evil).
- Bat Scare: To MK.
- Bat out of Hell: The Boggans' favorite mammals.
- Beauty Equals Goodness: The Boggans are ugly, and the animals they use as mounts (bats, grackles, and a star-nosed mole) are ones that are generally disliked by humans. Whereas the Leafmen are all good-looking, and ride hummingbirds.
- Averted with the mouse, who is adorable, and yet is violent towards the smaller leafmen, which it sees as food.
- Billing Displacement: Amanda Seyfried is billed third despite voicing the main character.
- Black and White Morality:All Boggans are all evil, the Leafmen are all good.
- Black Comedy: The fruit fly scene.
- Black Dude Dies First: Queen Tara is shot by an arrow from a Boggan soldier, and is the first important character to die on screen.
- Body Guard Crush: Ronin's strongly implied to have feelings for Tara, and she possibly returns. Then again they were childhood friends, so...
- Bow and Sword, in Accord: Some of the Leafmen.
- Call a Rabbit a "Smeerp": The Leafmen refer to average-sized humans as "Stompers."
- The Cast Showoff: Steven Tyler of Aerosmith gets to sing as Nim, but averted with Beyonce as Tara and Pitbull as Bufo.
- Cassandra Truth: MK doesn't believe her father's theory that there are Leafmen who live in the forest, and states that his marriage and career were (understandably) ruined because of it. At least until she gets shrunken down to size to see them for herself.
- Chekhov's Gun: The bat sounds MK's father keeps on his phone.
- The pinned bug armor that's on display.
- Chekhov's Gunman: The flower kid who wants to be like Queen Tara. Guess what happens...
- Close on Title: The title never appears at all in the movie until just before the credits roll.
- Colour-Coded for Your Convenience: The rich greens and golds of the forest (the use of yellow contributing to the 'warmness'), versus the cold colour palette and mud-browns of Mandrake and his allies. Also, the brightness of the forest, compared to the relatively subdued colours used in the house.
- Cool Versus Awesome: Samurai (the Leafmen) vs. shark-frog-men (the Boggans).
- Curtains Match The Windows: MK's deceased mother had brown hair and brown eyes
- Dark Is Evil
- Darker and Edgier: Than Blue Sky Studios' other films. As Blue Sky stuck mainly with comedies, this is their first film where the action is pushed to the forefront. Characters die, and a few have major daddy issues.
- Dead Star Walking: Gee, you thought Queen Tara (voiced by Beyonce) is going to do a lot of ass-kicking throughout the whole movie except that she dies and gives the MacGuffin to MK. This also goes the same with Dagda who gets killed by Ronin earlier in the movie.
- Deadly Dodging: Ronin dodges a shot from Dagda and kills him in return, but this allows Mandrake's shot to hit the queen as a result.
- Death as Comedy: The Fruit Fly scene.
- Disappeared Dad: Played with. Professor Bomba's single-minded focus on finding the Leafmen caused his wife to leave with his child. But when she returns at age 17, he does a terrible job of bonding with her because he has been alone so long with only a dog for company that he can't shake free of his obsession. When he finally does, it's when she's realized he was right all along.
- Disney Villain Death: Subverted. It's set up with Mandrake, but thanks to the Square/Cube Law a long fall just annoys him.
- Dude, Not Funny!: In-universe. MK doesn't like how Nod and Ronin are making fun of stompers, particularly her dad who is sitting beside them and saddened of his daughter's departure. Then, she blatantly points out that she is also a stomper.
- Even Evil Has Loved Ones: Despite criticizing and making fun of him in their first scene together, Mandrake does genuinely care for his son Dagda and seems to have a good enough relationship with him in later scenes. He is also very angry when Bufo insults him, especially because at that point Dagda is dead.
- Everything's Better with Samurai: The Leafmen's armor seems to draw a lot of inspiration from the samurai. Referenced with Ronin's name.
- Not to mention his Date Masamune helmet.
- They also wield wakazashi, the companion sword for katana.
- Evil Only Has to Win Once: It's not made explicit, but it's pretty clear if Mandrake stops a new queen from being crowned, the forest wouldn't be able to come back from him rotting it.
- The Fair Folk: The Leafmen, while not malicious, are heavily influenced by them. Chris Wedge's motivation to make the film came from seeing a museum painting of tiny fairy folk in a forest.
- Failed a Spot Check: See "Gave Up Too Soon."
- Failure Is the Only Option: Mandrake complains that no matter how much they destroy, Queen Tara can regrow it all back with a wave of her hand. Of course, if she were gone and had no successor...
- Fantasy-Forbidding Father: An interesting inversion: MK wants her dad to abandon his obsession with the Leafmen because it cost him both his marriage and career, and is currently threatening the already tenuous relationship MK is trying to restart with him.
- Faux Affably Evil: Mandrake.
- Feathered Fiend: The grackle mounts ridden by Mandrake and his warriors.
- Five Stages of Grief: MK mentioned going through this early in the movie, and her father seems to be firmly planted in denial. And while it's not focused on in the movie, it could possibly hinted that both her and her father will go through it. Together.
- Foreshadowing: A flower kid idolizes Queen Tara and dreams of becoming queen like her. She becomes the one to succeed Tara at the end of the film.
- For the Evulz: Why exactly are the Boggans trying to destroy the forest? They'll have to live there too afterwards.
- Furry Confusion: Some of the animals (like Mub and Bufo) and plants (like the dandilions) can talk and interact like humans but others (like the mouse and birds) can only interact as animals of comparable size to humans would.
- Garden Garment: All the leaf men Queen Tara wear clothes made of leaves or petals.
- Gave Up Too Soon: Just when Professor Bomba's recording equipment would have been useful (tiny MK needed him and his iPhone), he starts disconnecting them. Fortunately, he finds the needle MK moved on his map to indicate the Leafmen lair.
- Giant Flyer: ALL birds from Leafman perspective, but in particular the hummingbirds and grackles which are actually used as mounts.
- Hollywood New England: The film takes place in the deciduous forests of either Connecticut or New York, Blue Sky Studios' current and former base of headquarters. During the end credits, we see memorabilia from both those states, as well as a few others in New England, like Vermont.
- The cab from the beginning has a New York license plate and the college MK's dad works at is in NY as well, so there's a strong likelihood that it's New York. Additionally, MK's dad drops a mug labeled "White Plains Science Fair," and White Plains is in New York.
- Though there is a strong likelihood of Connecticut as well, seeing as MK's dad has a driver's license from Danbury, CT.
- In a Single Bound: Leafmen (and by extension all miniature people) can jump many times their own height. Once turned into one of them, MK finds she can do this, too, after a little practice.
- Incredible Shrinking Girl: Done to MK.
- In-Series Nickname: Apparently, "MK" for Mary Katherine.
- Instant Expert: Averted and played straight. MK learns that she can fall great distances and leap super high, but throughout the film, never gets the hang of it, and pretty much every time she uses it, she misses her target. However, she learned to fly birds without needing any instructions (which could be handwaved since the birds are shown to be smart and well-trained and might only need basic guidance).
- Insult Friendly Fire: Nod and Ronin mock Stompers for a little while in front of MK, who just happens to be a Stomper. Not made better by the fact that the Stomper they were mocking was her father.
- Interspecies Romance: MK and Nod, and MK and Mub on Mub's part.
- Ironic Echo: "Ozzy! No kisses."
- Just One Second Out of Sync: The tiny inhabitants of the forest are hard for humans to see because they exist in a state where they naturally move faster than larger animals, humans included. Seen from MK's perspective, Queen Tara is vibrating so fast that she leaves after-images even when she's not actually moving.
- Katanas Are Just Better: The leafmen use wakazashi, the shorter brother of the katana.
- Killer Rabbit: Small creatures like mice for the Leafmen and presumably others like them. Also chipmunks, apparently.
- Light Is Good: Played straight.
- Like a Son to Me: It's implied Ronin might be growing to see Nod this way, but their mutual stubbornness gets in the way. Only reinforced by the fact that Nod's father was good friends with Ronin.
- Lunacy: The light of the moon at its highest point in a hundred years will cause the pod to bloom into Tara's successor. And lack of it will cause it to bloom into Mandrake's successor.
- Mouse World: The forest. Bonus points for an actual mouse showing up... and trying to eat MK.
- The Marvelous Deer: Used for a romantic scene in which MK and Nod ride it against a setting sun.
- Mauve Shirt: Ronin's second in command with the beard is the most identifiable Leafman outside of the main cast who leads the troops and has a few lines of dialogue. On the Villain's side there's the fat and skinny pair of guards who chase the heroes later in the film and can usually be fighting with one another.
- Meaningful Echo: "Put your arms around me..."
- Men of Sherwood: The Leafmen have no chance against the Big Bad, but against the Boggan army they are very effective even against poor numbers.
- Missing Mom: MK moves in with her father because her mother passed away. It becomes the source of where most of MK's and her dad's dramatic moments come from.
- Missing Trailer Scene: Nod dangling from Mub's eyestalks after dangling from the branch. Also, Mandrake's line "I'm going to destroy the forest - watch carefully, because I'm only going to do it once."
- Mix-and-Match Critters: The Boggan Mooks look like a cross between frogs and sharks. Mandrake and his son, however, look more cat- and human- like.
- Mood Whiplash:
- Nim starts to sing an upbeat song to the people gathered in the tree, reading from a scroll like a script, then chokes when he realizes that the queen is dead.
- MK and Nod come back from a romantic ride on a deer - only to realize that while they were gone, Mandrake kidnapped Mub, Grub, and the pod.
- Names to Run Away From Really Fast: Mandrake, which otherwise refers to a magical plant that emitted a deadly scream upon being picked and the leaves of which were poison.
- Nemean Skinning: The Boggans.
"You look good in rat."
- Oh, Crap: MK, when she realises it's not All Just a Dream:
MK: ... Dad? I had the most messed-up dream. There were talking slugs, and teeny little soldiers and-
MK: Aw, man.
- Older Than They Look: Given Queen Tara's held her position for a century, both she and Ronin (on account of being childhood friends) look very good for beings which have not only lived a century but, due to their heightened speed, must actually experience that period of time as being at least twice as long as it is for humans.
- Omnicidal Maniac: Mandrake wants to rot the entire forest for no apparent reason, other than that the forces of life are his enemies.
- One-Man Army: Ronin. All the way. Mandrake had his army prepared for hundreds of leafmen, thousands of leafmen, and Ronin still fought through them to get to him.
- Passing the Torch: The life of the forest has to do this every hundred years. The film opens on the very day Queen Tara is to choose her heir.
- Pimped-Out Dress: Queen Tara's gorgeous petal dress. In fact, it actually seems to come as a package deal with being queen. When a new one is crowned, she magically gets a similar dress.
- Plant Person: The plant-based Jinn.
- Product Placement: Bomba has a library of animal and nature sounds kept on a 4th gen iPod Touch.
- The Swarm: Of bats that Mandrake summons to block out the moon.
- Readings Are Off the Scale: Bomba says this in one scene.
- Retirony: Queen Tara is on her last day of being in charge. When she's picking her replacement, the villains show up, and well...
- Royals Who Actually Do Something: Both Tara and Mandrake, although the latter is a villainous example.
- Scenery Porn
- Simple Staff: Another Leafmen weapon of choice.
- Professor Bomba's phone uses Skynet.
- The Taxi Cab at the beginning comes from a Taxi service called Copperbottom.
- And Ronin's helmet is a replica of Date Masamune's.
- Skeletons in the Coat Closet: The Boggans wear the skulls and skins of their victims.
- Square/Cube Law: A rare example of the small-scale side of the coin; this is why Leafmen and Boggans are so strong and can jump so far.
- Sundial Waypoint: The cast has to get the pod to the pool in the Leafmen base, where light from the moon at its highest point over a century will shine on it and it will bloom and pass on the life of the forest to Queen Tara's successor. If the pod blooms in darkness, it will bloom into Mandrake's heir.
- The Tape Knew You Would Say That: Tara's final words to MK, which she couldn't hear at the time, are seen later in a mystical "flashback" created by one of Nim Galuu's barkscrolls. Tara starts off by saying (paraphrased) "If you're hearing this, it means you made it to Nim's," and anticipates what MK's reaction will be.
- The Team - Nearly a Five-Man Band, but The Big Guy is a Dividual
- Too Dumb to Live: Nim. He has the MacGuffin that the bad guys are searching all over for, and what does he do? He holds it up to the crowd that's gathered at his tree, and tells each and every one of them exactly how important it is. And then, he sends out his fireflies to broadcast not just to the people he want's to get in touch with, but to the entire forest, that the MacGuffin is right here, and poorly guarded, could you please send reinforcements?
- Not to mention half of the team charged with guarding it not keeping a very close eye on it while they're in the tree, and leaving it to the slugs.
- Touch of Death: The Boggans' weapons can deteriorate anything they touch. Mandrake's staff is much more potent, able to fell an entire tree with one swing.
- Those Two Guys: Mub and Grub.
- Troperrific: In the words of reviewer Matt Zoller Seitz:
"There's a protagonist grieving over her mother's recent death
, and a brilliant but scatterbrained father who loves his child but isn't the strong parental figure she desperately needs
. There's a hidden world akin to Alice's Wonderland that the inquisitive heroine explores. There are beleaguered good guys that she joins in a war against bad guys that represent chaos and decay; their leader is a funny despot with a European accent. There's a mythology that will be fulfilled when good guys take a fragile pod on a journey toward a prophesied end. There's a young warrior with whom the heroine forms a flirtatious friendship. There's a tough older warrior who mentors the younger warrior. There are comic sidekicks, and a beautiful forest queen who utters platitudes about the cycles of life and then dies
- "Well Done, Son!" Guy: It first seems like this when it's revealed that Mandrake is Dadga's father, but it's averted in the next second.
- We Hardly Knew Ye: Tara and Dagda, the latter even more so as he dies offscreen.
- Wild Wilderness: The forest.
- World-Healing Wave: After the pod blooms in full moonlight.
- Wrong Genre Savvy:
So, is Nim Galu the Wise Old Man
of the forest? Nod:
He's more like the crazy uncle.
- X Meets Y: FernGully meets Avatar. A comparison the director isn't fond of.
Chris Wedge: I hate to associate it with other movies. It is adventure on the scale of Star Wars. And it does immerse the audience completely in a world like Avatar. But it has its own personality.
- You Killed My Father: Mandrake's reasoning in taking the pod; a Leafman warrior did kill his son. (Of course, it's not really justified as Mandrake struck first, and he was going to take the pod anyway.)
- You Know I'm A Stomper, Right?: Nod's mockery of the 'Stomper' that they have been misleading for years did not go over well with MK.