Director: Chris Wedge
Cast: Colin Farrell, Amanda Seyfried, Christoph Waltz, Josh Hutcherson, Beyoncé Knowles,
Plot: A teenager finds herself transported to a deep forest setting where a battle between the forces of good and evil is taking place. She bands together with a rag-tag group characters in order to save their world (and ours).
Genre: Animation / Adventure / Family
Rating: PG for mild action, some scary images and brief rude language.
IN RETROSPECT (Spoilers: NO)
The film was reviewed in the 3D format.
“Just because you haven't seen something doesn't mean it's not there.”
Some of the funniest moments in the film revolve around the antics of a snail and a slug. Without the duo, Epic would have been quite bereft of comedy, considering how flat the dialogue is in some parts of the film.
Taking a leaf out of George Lucas’ (Star Wars, 1977) book, or if you are infinitely more serious, the bible of Akira Kurosawa (The Hidden Fortress, 1958), the snail and the slug represent the continuing tradition of having characters solely perform comedic roles, but inevitably become indispensable to the continuous progression of the narrative.
Epic is full of picturesque imagery and delights us with its visual concept. A girl named MK (voiced by Amanda Seyfried) stumbles into a kingdom of tiny living creatures in the woods after paying a visit to her reclusive, nature-obsessed scientist-father in a reconciliation effort.
She is inexplicably shrunk to the size of Thumbelina, finding herself lost in a world of brave leafmen who battle evil beings, talking flowers and shrubs, and yes annoyingly funny talking slugs and snails – all part of a visual concept best described as stimulating and refreshing.
Directed by Chris Wedge (Ice Age, 2002; Robots, 2005), Epic is vibrant and colourful, but is somewhat let down by a narrative trajectory that stays too much on the predictable side. The film does what it intends to do – to entertain kids (and their parents), and does no more.
There are stagnant moments in the plot that threaten to suck the energy out of the film, in particular a singing caterpillar (I think!) who thankfully sang only once. The villain Mandrake (Christoph Waltz) is very much a stock character with standard characterization, who while occasionally menacing, does not appear to create any kind of sustained fear.
As a result, Epic is lacking in dramatic tension, and thus unbefitting of its title. Michael Phillips of the Chicago Tribune thought the film should be renamed “Adequate”, but I think it deserves slightly better than that. Half-Decent, maybe?
In any case, Epic will be one of the more visually stunning animated features to hit the screens this year, though I doubt most would remember it with Monsters University, Despicable Me 2 and Turbo set to create bigger waves in the coming months. If you are in for familiar familial fare, this is it.
Verdict: The premise and visual concept behind the film are quite stimulating, though it suffers from travelling too straight a narrative route.
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