Director: Chris Wedge
Starring: Colin Farrell, Amanda Seyfried, Christoph Waltz, Beyonce Knowles, Josh Hutcherson, Chris O’Dowd, Aziz Ansari
Written by: James V. Hart, Daniel Shere, Tom J. Astle, Matt Ember and (also based on the books The Leaf Men and The Brave Good Bugs) William Joyce.
Running Time: 102 mins
Release date: 22nd May 2013
A film should never use an adjective as a title. Films called Amazing, Wonderful or Incredible, are just asking for a fall. The Amazing Spider-Man wasn’t that amazing, neither was The Incredible Burt Wonderstone (although The Incredibles were just that!) and the only wonderful that reaches that peak is It’s A Wonderful Life. So calling your film, Epic, was never going to succeed unless it was truly Epic. It’s not. In fact, it would be better if the title was Mediocre.
M.K. is visiting her estranged father, a scientist with an obsession. He believes that there are small creatures living in the undergrowth. It’s a belief that is completely founded. A battle has been raging between good Leafmen, led by Ronin and the evil Boggans, who led by Mandrake, want to rid the beauty and greenery of the forest by making it rot. When the Leafmen’s Queen Tara is dying, M.K. stumbles across her and she is told by the royal figure to look after a special flower that will eventually flourish and choose a new Queen. By taking on this responsibility, M.K. shrinks to the size of the Leafmen and becomes caught up in the war, as well as befriending the rebellious member, Nod.
This is from the same studio that made Ice Age, as well as its director, Chris Wedge, and like the prehistoric adventures, the animation is quite stunning. The detail of the leaves, grass, trees etc are incredibly realistic. A lot of time and effort has been spent in making this film and yes, in that sense it comes close to being Epic. This isn’t a problem of the movie. The problem lies elsewhere.
I find it hard to believe that five people have written this film because, plotwise, it is wafer thin. We get the warring feud between the Leafmen and the Boggans but that is all we get. A battle here, a moment of peril there, more close shaves as the heroes escape from either the villains or animals or even M.K.’s on beloved three-legged dog. That’s about the limits of the film. It doesn’t really offer much more and yes, it looks impressive but it does get pretty tiresome quickly.
What the film also lacks is humour. We get slapstick giggles from a slug and a snail and M.K.’s dog running into things or in circles (because of it’s disability) but this is rather po-faced for a family film. It does try to give over a eco-friendly message but I couldn’t help but compare it to the 1992 animation, Ferngully, which follows the same path of a human shrinking and finding a world below (and comedy relief from a disabled animal!) Ferngully, however, does it so much better.
The other problem is there are far too many distractions from the vocal talents. Colin Farrell, Beyonce, Christoph Waltz are all fine but you find yourself drifting away from the story and trying to guess who is playing what character.
This is another 3D extravaganza that, quite frankly, doesn’t work. The beauty of the animation is helped by a terrific palette of colour but the dimming of these by the grey glasses takes away from the pleasure and, to be honest, the 3D isn’t used effectively enough for it to warrant having it. If you do decide to see this, then go and see it in 2D and get the full effect.
I am sure that it will be a success. I was wrong about The Croods and look how successful that film was, so Epic will win over the young, less demanding, audience. I found it a less than impressive affair and still a long way off from ever reaching the giddy heights of what Disney and Pixar produce.