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Movie Review: Epic

May 30, 2013

Epic PosterEpic – A 20th Century Fox Release

http://www.epicthemovie.com

Release Date: May 24th, 2013

Rated PG for some scary scenes and animated action

Running time: 102 minutes

Chris Wedge (dir.)

James V. Hart (screenplay and story)

William Joyce (screenplay and story)

Daniel Shere (screenplay)

Tom J. Astle (screenplay)

Matt Ember (screenplay)

Danny Elfman (music)

Beyonce Knowles as Queen Tara (voice)

Colin Farrell as Ronin (voice)

Josh Hutcherson as Nod (voice)

Amanda Seyfried as Mary “M.K.” Katherine (voice)

Christoph Waltz as Mandrake (voice)

Steven Tyler as Nim Galuu (voice)

Aziz Ansari as Mub (voice)

Chris O’Dowd as Grub (voice)

Jason Sudeikis as Bomba (voice)

Pitbull as Bufo (voice)

Blake Anderson as Dagda (voice)

Judah Friedlander as Larry (voice)

Epic

©20th Century Fox.  All Rights Reserved.

Mub (Aziz Ansari) and M.K. (Amanda Seyfried) in Epic.

Our reviews below:

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Epic Review By John C.

**1/2 (out of 4)

The latest animated film from Blue Sky Studios, Epic actually feels smaller in both scale and execution than the title might suggest.  But despite these shortcomings, this is a movie that is sure to be enjoyed by kids, while keeping adults mildly entertained as they marvel at the beauty of the animated backgrounds.

When Mary “M.K.” Katherine (Amanda Seyfried) goes to visit her eccentric father Bomba (Jason Sudeikas), she is disappointed to find that he is still obsessed with trying to prove the existence of a tiny civilization in the forest.  But when M.K. is made small by the magical Queen Tara (Beyoncé Knowles), she is entrusted with protecting a bud that is needed to keep the natural world alive.  The flower must be brought to the wise Nim Galuu (Steven Tyler), before the evil Mandrake (Christoph Waltz) can steal it and cast everything into darkness.  Led by a team of brave warriors, including the determined Ronin (Colin Farrell) and the teenaged rebel Nod (Josh Hutcherson), they have until the light of the moon becomes brightest to set things right.

This story is brought to life in a way that is sure to engage the kids in the audience, with a simplistic sense of the good guys and the bad guys.  There certainly are things to like about Epic, including some beautifully done animation and photo realistic backgrounds.  There is also a nice sense of choreography to the action scenes and battle sequences, as the camera follows the birds and flying arrows with a feeling of excitement.  I also like some of the ideas that Bomba presents about the mythology, leading to flashes of intelligent thinking behind the film.  Chris O’Dowd and Aziz Ansari provide amusing comic relief as the snail and slug that are constant sidekicks to the main heroes, and are both standouts of the large voice cast.

These elements make Epic a film that is consistently pleasant to watch, but the story and characters also feel underdeveloped in a way that leads to a bit of an identity crisis in terms of tone and style.  It’s also surprising that in a movie with a main heroine, the female characters get the short end of the stick and unfortunately provide some of the most disappointing scenes.  The stuff with Queen Tara and her legions of flower people feels like something out of a cheap Barbie movie, with the plastic look of the character and poorly written dialogue not fitting with the beautifully rendered backgrounds.  The character of M.K. starts off strong, but by the end is sadly reduced to a damsel in distress who can’t even lift a sword, being sent out to ask for help.

Although adults might just find themselves distracted by these largely underdeveloped parts of the story, kids are sure to be entertained by the characters and frequent action.  With beautifully animated scenery and some entertaining sequences, Epic is ultimately an agreeable animated film that is sure to keep younger audiences engaged, even if the title is misleading.

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Epic Review by Erin V.

**1/2 (out of 4)

Based very loosely on the book “The Leaf Men & the Brave Good Bugs” by William Joyce, Epic is the story of the Leaf Men – tiny protectors of the forest.  When teenage M.K. (Amanda Seyfried) goes to live with her father (Jason Sudeikis) at his small house near the forest, she is discouraged that he is still obsessed with the idea that broke up her parent’s marriage so many years before – the idea that there is an army of tiny people running around the forest keeping everything in balance.

Meanwhile in the forest itself, the Leaf Men are fighting to keep ‘Boggans’ at bay – these nasty little creatures are intent on stopping Queen Tara (Beyoncé Knowles) from passing on her power of protection for the forest to a successor.  When something happens to the queen, a magic seed pod ends up in the possession of M.K., causing her to not only shrink, but be drawn into the battles between life and decay.  Working together with sort-of Leaf Man Nod (Josh Hutcherson), and leader of the Leaf Men Ronin (Colin Ferrell), they go up against Boggan Mandrake (Christoph Waltz) to save the forest.

The film certainly has its flaws.  Queen Tara seems like a one-note character designed to become a tie-in doll for young girls.  The Leaf Men and bad guys are pretty stereotyped.  At moments M.K. suddenly becomes helpless when before she was quite capable. Pretty much, none of the characters are particularly fleshed out.  The story is not very original and not as in-depth as it could be either.  But kids will most likely enjoy the film and it is not the worst thing I’ve seen – there are some amusing moments from supporting characters, and the animation scenery is quite lovely – even if the plastic-like characters seem a little out of place in the more realistic world.  The music by Danny Elfman is also quite pleasant but maybe needed a better film to be the score to.  Overall though, Epic is entertaining enough for what it is and will likely please its target audience.

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Epic Review by Nicole

**1/2 (out of 4)

Loosely inspired by William Joyce’s The Leaf Men and the Brave Good Bugs, Epic takes a glimpse into a beautiful little hidden world.  When teenager M.K. (Amanda Seyfried) moves in with her eccentric father Bomba (Jason Sudeikas), she doesn’t know what to expect.  They are still both grieving the death of Mom, and they each express this in their own ways.  M.K.’s relationship with Bomba is a bit awkward.  He is fixated on proving the existence of the tiny people that fly on birds and protect the forest.

Meanwhile, in the forest, trouble is brewing.  A gang of tiny fungus monsters known as the Boggans want to rot every living thing.  When Boggan leader Mandrake (Christoph Waltz) destroys Leaf Queen Tara (Beyoncé Knowles), M.K. gets shrunk down to in size, in order to protect a magical lotus bud.  The lotus brings life to all the plants, and therefore the Boggans want to destroy it.

Epic has a lot of potential.  The animation is beautiful.  Every little bit of flora and fauna is expertly detailed, with each leaf, petal and water droplet digitally painted in a photorealistic way.  I also love how some of the Leaf People are part plant, which makes for a really interesting character design.  While a few of the tiny humans look like Barbie dolls, most of the character animation is decent.  One artistic choice that I found interesting is the costume design.  While the Leaf People wear plant based materials, the Boggans wear fur, which says something about their conflicting attitudes towards the natural world.

As both an artist and nature lover, I really appreciate Epic.  The movie is aesthetically pleasing, and the environmental premise is quite good.  But what I do find disappointing is the lack of character development.  Just why are the Boggans evil and why do they hate living things?  The only characters that I find work are M.K. and Bomba, who seems to perhaps have a touch of Aspergers or autism.  I also liked Ozzie, the three legged pug, although it is never clear what happened to his leg.

Epic is a prime example of a promising idea that is never fully developed.  It serves as an example of a work that falters under the assumption that just because it has beautiful visuals, and is created for children, that it is okay to skimp on its characters.  Children and adults alike will want to know more about the people that inhabit the film’s complex world.

However, despite these flaws, Epic is a beautiful film to look at.  With a decent message to follow, this is a harmless and entertaining way to spend your money.

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Epic Review by Maureen

**1/2 (out of 4)

The best thing you can say about Blue Sky Studios’ mainly for children movie Epic, is that it’s really pretty to look at.  The brightly coloured miniature forest world of Moonhaven is beautifully detailed and charming.

The tiny Leaf Men soldiers who ride hummingbirds are the good guys in this story.  Their job is to protect the beautiful forest and the pretty flower Queen Tara (Beyoncé Knowles).  Queen Tara is the weakest part in terms of animation, with the character looking very much like a plastic Barbie doll (no offence to Barbie).  The contrasting grey and brown tones of the evil Boggans, who led by Mandrake (Christoph Waltz) are trying to destroy the forest, work well in terms of the letting the visuals tell the story.

While the story mainly takes place in the miniature forest world, regular size humans play a role as well.  M.K. (Amanda Seyfried) is a teenager who after her mother dies is forced to live with her very nerdy dad, Bomba (Jason Sudeikas).  Bomba lives and works in a remote house in the forest where he’s been trying to find proof the tiny beings do exist in the forest.  Dad, along with his adorable three legged pug Ozzie, add some fun comic moments.  However, the comic high point in Epic has to be the forest’s snail (Chris O’Dowd) and slug (Aziz Ansari) duo who steal scenes.

The human and forest world merge when M.K. accidentally shrinks.  There she meets a tiny forest teen guy, Nod (Josh Hutcherson) and head of the Leaf Men, General Ronin (Colin Farrell).  When M.K. is put in charge of protecting an important lotus blossom, she finds herself fighting alongside the Leaf Men against the evil Boggans.  Some of the battle scenes may be a little too realistic and intense for the youngest of viewers who may have been lulled in by all the pretty bright colours at the beginning of the movie.

All in all, Epic is fairly entertaining for families.  The story isn’t too complicated, there are some laughs, lots of action, and overall the film is easy on the eyes.  Whether Epic is seen in theatres or on disc, it’s got enough going for it to satisfy most kids.

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Epic Review by Tony

**1/2 (out of 4)

Epic is the latest feature from Blue Sky Animation. M.K. (Amanda Seyfried) goes to live with her eccentric father (Jason Sudeikis) who is obsessed with a tiny civilization of forest people that he is tracking with numerous cameras. They are being attacked by an army of Boggans led by Mandrake (Christoph Waltz) bent on destroying the forest. Their queen (Beyoncé Knowles) is killed but manages to throw a lily pod carrying the spirit of her successor to M.K. as she just happens to pass by, running after the family’s very old blind three-legged bulldog. M. K. is immediately shrunk down and joins the leader Ronin (Colin Farrell) and young Nod (Josh Hutcherson) of the army of Leaf Men, riding on birds to take the pod to the site where it can open on the next full moon.

The child friendly Epic story is nothing special, but the animation looks nice and their are some clever touches, particularly in the interactions between the big and tiny people using the father’s makeshift wearable technology. The large voice cast is quite good, also including Aziz Ansari and Chris O’Dowd as pod minders and Steven Tyler as the keeper of the archival scrolls, reminding me of Mel Brooks from Robots.

In general, however, Epic may be the weakest Blue Sky film to date, in comparison to the original Ice Age by the same director Chris Wedge and its sequels directed by Carlos Saldanha who also directed the fine Rio and co-directed (with Wedge) the excellent Robots.

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Consensus: Although parts of Epic feel underdeveloped and the title could be considered misleading, the film has some beautiful animation and a couple of well done action scenes, and is sure to be enjoyed by the younger members of the audience.  **1/2 (Out of 4)

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