I remember, not so very long ago, when most of the protagonists in children’s movies were male.

The change in recent years has been, well, “Epic.” This is one of those movies that stands beside recent predecessors such as “Brave,” with strong girl heroines as the focus.

This is the first film directed by Chris Wedge, who, along with Carlos Saldanha, created the “Ice Age” franchise. So it should come as no surprise that this is an action-filled fantasy romp that can be enjoyed as well in 2-D as 3-D.

Amanda Seyfried is the voice of the main character, Mary Katherine, who announces that she now wants to go by the name of M.K. M.K. is a smart teenager who is visiting her father, Professor Bomba (Jason Sudeikis), a goofy scientist who has tried for years to prove that tiny people live in the woods near his isolated home. He has trouble concentrating, or focusing on a topic of conversation, for that matter. It’s obvious that his obsession with the “little people” was the downfall of his marriage. M.K. just wants her dad to be normal.

Meanwhile, a life-or-death drama is playing out in the woods — where it turns out that Bomba is correct. Queen Tara (Beyonce Knowles) is about to choose her successor. A water-lily pod must open under the light of the moon. Her guardian is Ronin (Colin Farrell), who feels more than duty toward the beautiful queen.

There are a bunch of other small creatures who mean to do the queen’s citizenry harm. They are led by the vicious Mandrake (Christoph Waltz), who wants his rot to take over every green part of the forest.

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M.K. arrives on the scene while Mandrake’s minions attack, and she ends up in possession of the precious pod. Additionally, she is transformed into a tiny person who can ride on the wings of a bird, which she eventually does. She also strikes up a kind of romance with a brash young fellow named Nod (Josh Hutcherson). And she becomes acquainted with the other guardians of the pod: a snail and a slug who offer comic relief.

The look of the movie is part of the fun, particularly the gorgeous flowers, the birds that serve as aerial steeds and the cool-looking caterpillar (Steven Tyler). It’s solid counter-programming to those who don’t prefer the live-action shows of summer.