Figured I’d get this review out of the way before the man in the red cape takes away my attention.
Animation normally takes a favorable lean towards Disney and Pixar, but one company that has also made a name for itself is Blue Sky. Though they’ve yet to make a truly incredible film, they’ve had their share of modest hits, mainly their full fledged comedies like Ice Age and Rio. Here, they take a decidedly more serious turn with Epic, an adaptation of the tale “The Leaf Men and the Brave Good Bugs” by William Joyce.
Joyce, a respected children’s author, is a fascinating individual, in that the worlds he can create from pure imagination are a spectacle on their own level. Epic is no less visually stunning than you would expect, but perhaps the filmmakers should have gotten an equally imaginative story to go along with this world.
Mary Katharine (Amanda Seyfried), or MK for short, has recently moved into a small house in a forest, where her eccentric and obsessive father has been doing research on the life forms, and searches for a civilization of small forest people. MK, of course, thinks it’s make believe, but that’s changed very quickly. After being shrunken down to a few inches tall, MK meets the civilization of forest guardians, known as the Leafmen. Aided by veteran soldier Ronin (Colin Farrell), and MK’s obligatory love interest Nod (Josh Hutcherson), she’s given a task to protect a flower bud, which in good hands will protect the forest life, but in the wrong hands will destroy the forest, the latter being the motivation of the Boggans, enemies of the Leafmen, led by vengeful Mandrake (Christoph Waltz).
Essentially, this movie’s story is a mix between A Bug’s Life and Fern Gully, and despite a few sweet and funny flairs, there’s not much to distinguish it from numerous other stories told before, and told better. There are some funny moments, and good voice over performances, aside from the distracting likes of Pitbull and Steven Tyler (used solely for their names on the poster), but the story is lacking in the characterization department, it’s not exactly surprising, and I think the main romance is contrived. The whole film takes place over one day, and after only one day, two characters are completely sure that they’re in love? I know Disney did their share of said things, but this is really pushing it.
Love it or hate it, if spectacle’s what you’re searching for, you only need to take one look at this film to be enchanted. IT. IS. BEAUTIFUL! For what problems I had, I can see why it was made. The forest looks unbelievable, perfectly capturing the essence of William Joyce’s imagination (in fact, he even served as Production Designer), and the ambiance is hypnotizing, utilizing sound in so many clever ways. Once again, Randy Thom has brought his A game to animation, as the sound effects he creates are as imaginative as the visuals, and Danny Elfman provides yet another fantastic musical score that deserves to, but most likely won’t have the Oscars calling. Before I forget, I must say that I also quite enjoyed the film’s action sequences, which are suitably grandiose and smartly paced.
All in all, Epic doesn’t quite live up to its own title, but what we do get is still an entertaining diversion. Those who like it will most likely be enchanted by the film’s gorgeous imagination, and dislikers will at least be thankful for the movie’s brisk pace. Yeah, we’ve seen it numerous times, but this one is a fine rendition of such stories. I’ll give it an A for ambition.
*** / *****