Tiny, champion Leaf Men. Evil, creepy "Boggans." A talking snail and a comical slug. A handsome rogue who can ride a sparrow faster than anyone around. A teenage girl who tries to run away but learns to ride a hummingbird instead. And a big magical forest that will die unless the Leaf Men, the runaway and the slimy things prevail.
That's EPIC in a nutshell, a fantastic eco-blockbuster opening Memorial Day weekend. Thanks to Team ENERGY STAR, I was invited to attend the movie's star-studded "green carpet" premiere in New York City – along with several of the celebrities who voiced the movie's characters. Team ENERGY STAR hopes EPIC raises awareness about the importance of protecting the planet and stopping climate change, especially among kids.
EPIC puts it in a bigger context: of good vs evil,the need to safeguard the natural systems that protect life on Earth, and the importance of working together to make a difference. Says Ronin, the Leaf Men's leader, "We're all leaves on the same tree." In other words, as individual as each and everyone of us is, we're all living on the same planet. If we don't protect it, who will?
But back to the celebrities. Before we get to the names you'll recognize (hint hint: Amanda Seyfried, Colin Farrell, Aziz Ansari…), here's a photo of the people who are the real stars to us green moms who were in the audience: the kids for whom the movie was made.
Though I left my children at home, several of the moms who attended the premiere with me had their kids in tow. Not to be outdone by our offspring, here we all are on our way in to the theater (from left: Lori of Groovy Green Livin, Shane of Environmental Booty, Tiffany of Nature Moms, me, and Leigh of Green4U.)
Said Lori, "The movie grabbed me from the start. The imagery was breathtaking-enhanced by 3D glasses. My boys were sitting in front of me and they didn’t move from beginning to end…One line I heard during the movie that hit home was “We all have the power to make a difference." I have to agree!
Shane was captivated by the sheer awesomeness of the animation. "From the very first scene, I could tell that it was something different. Throughout the entire movie, I just kept thinking to myself that the 3D imagery was so beautiful. That beautiful imagery, mixed with the soundtrack and many surprising action sequences, makes Epic the perfect, can't miss, family movie."
Leigh agreed that "EPIC The Movie is Epic! … it is like nothing you have ever seen before. The forest came alive in the scene and you were taken into the world that we live near all the time but never saw quite the this way in a movie. Epic is visually amazing but it also tells a great story."
Tiffany captured everyone's enthusiasm in her review: "I absolutely ADORED this movie," she raved. "I laughed, I cried, and I was mesmerized by the images and story. My daughter loved it as well and is saying it is her second favorite movie of all time (after Wreck it Ralph). I don't think I have ever seen a more beautiful animated movie actually. Blue Sky Studios and director Chris Wedge did a fantastic job creating a fantasy world hidden within our own world."
Speaking of the director, after the premiere, we bloggers had a chance to sit down with him and some of the film's stars, including Amanda Seyfried, the voice of M.K., the runaway girl turned heroine; Colin Farrell, who plays Ronin, the leader of the Leaf Men; and Aziz Ansari and Chris O'Dowd, the hilarious voices behind the snail and the slug. (Colin Farrell is 4th from left; Amanda Seyfried is the blonde next to him; I'm third from right in back row, with director Chris Wedge, the tall man in the blue shirt on the end of the back row.)
Harriet of Climate Mama joined us for the roundtable, where she pointedly asked the celebs how they thought we could get Hollywood to pay more attention to climate change.
"Chris Wedge (the director) reminded us that through social media, we are all very powerful. He suggested that if enough people remind the studios what we like and what we want to see, the studios will listen."
Added Chris Wedge,
"The idea behind the movie was that we would go to a place that seems familiar to us, but we would see the magic inside of it. And when I wanted always to get in touch with that from an emotional perspective, I thought about the times that I just walk into the forest, whenever I'm by myself, and just stop and listen and just feel it, because you can feel the presence of some kind of nature power going on all the time.
There's a little movie going on with the squirrels that are chasing around and the things are growing out of trees, and it's always happening, and you can feel the presence of that.
So, my hope was that a kid would go out and see like, wow, those birds making all that noise, that's not just a sparrow chasing a crow away from its nest, it's Leafman and Boggins that are fighting, that would be it for me. There's magic out there that we just don't pay attention to."
Recommends Leigh: "When you leave the movie and you are talking to your kids about the theme of the movie and the environment, use it as a time to talk to them about other environmental issues like climate change. What if there was a big storm in the forest at the end of the movie and the moon was blocked? What can we do to make sure the forest stays the way it is?"
"Have your kids write their thoughts down to enter the Team Energy Star contest for a chance to win great prizes," she suggests. "Kids are so thoughtful and have such great passion for the environment, let them share it in the contest. Even if they do not want to enter have them go to the Energy Star website and learn more about what they can do to help save the forest we live in."
They can see what some other kids think about the movie and ENERGY STAR in this fun video produced by the Boys and Girls Club of America, who took their cameras and questions to the green carpet, too.