A LITTLE MORE MAGIC, a little less action, and the animated adventure "Epic" might have better lived up to its title.
The movie is adapted from William Joyce's lavishly illustrated books about the invisible army of enchanted creatures who live within a forest and keep it alive.
The creative team from the "Ice Age" movies takes Joyce's starting point and layers over it the story of jaded teen MK (Amanda Seyfried) forced to spend the summer with her estranged father (Jason Sudeikis), a reputed kook who's devoted his life to substantiating his belief that invisible creatures live in the forest around his country home.
MK thinks her dad is nuts, too, until events transpire to shrink her down to fairy size, and she finds herself in the midst of a war between tiny leaf men (Colin Farrell, Josh Hutcherson) fighting to save the forest, and evil creatures who wish to destroy it.
From there, "Epic," becomes a standard piece of animated action, as the stalwart leaf men (green-clad archers in the Merry Men mold) strive to protect the precious resources from the toad-like Boggans, who bring death and decay to all they touch.
The miniature world is long on action, not so long on character. There's a hint of a romance between MK and one of the soldiers (Hutcherson), but just a hint. Christoph Waltz voices a fairly standard villain.
The movie is competent, and technically it's very good - Hollywood makes very few mistakes in the 3-D format these days. But given the potential here for true movie magic, a visual world of enchantment to match the promise of the story, it feels short of the mark.
The movie finds its emotional footing, though, in the final few minutes, as the dormant story of MK and her father finally awakens, and "Epic," becomes the kind of movie that might make a nice date for Father's Day.