Initially, this shapes up to be a very clichéd and obvious animation with little to nothing of interest for adult viewers, and with far too many parallels with Disney’s ‘Tinkerbell and the Secret of the Wings’ for its own good. However, after the swishing and swooshings of its stereotypical young hero have faded, together with the setting up of the equally stereotypical motivations for the other characters, it actually becomes a lot of fun – and at least one adult felt the need to give it a quick, slightly self conscious, burst of applause at the end, which The Red Dragon endorsed in spirit if not quite in action.
The story revolves around the Leaf Men, tiny humanoids that move incredibly fast to the human eye (faeries for all intents and purposes) who are charged with safeguarding the natural environment of the forest against their enemies, the Boggans, who thrive on darkness and death, and who seek to prevent the Leaf Men from selecting their new queen who would use her powers against them for another generation. Enter cute redhead human Mary Katherine (voiced by Amanda Seyfried) whose mother has just passed away and is now forced to live with her estranged father in the forest, estranged due to his obsession with finding evidence of the Leaf Men’s existence. One quirk of fate later, and MK finds herself shrunk down to, ironically, not so epic proportions and entering the miniature world for herself, as the future of that world hangs in the balance.
It’s from Blue Sky Studios and based on the writing of Louisianian author William Joyce, a fairly prolific creative talent who’s previous adaptations for the big screen include Disney’s ‘Meet the Robinsons’ and Dreamwork’s ‘Rise of the Guardians’, and who won the Oscar for best animated short film, along with Brandon Oldenburg, in 2012 for ‘The Fantastic Flying Books of Mr. Morris Lessmore’. The writing helps immeasurably, with a decent amount of comedy in there, and the animation for the most part appears lively and slick, which, together with the combined voice talents of the cast including Colin Farrell, relaxing into his natural Irish brogue, Christoph Waltz, as the bad guy, Josh Hutcherson, Chris O’Dowd, and big names from the world of music in the guise of Beyonce, Steven Tyler and, in his first big-screen role, Pitbull, ensures everything is brought to life successfully, creating an enjoyable film that should suit families and grown ups alike.