Epic – Movie Review

Epic

 

With the summer movie season in full swing, Chris Wedge’s (Ice Age, Robots) animated film Epic sweeps into theaters today and audiences won’t be disappointed!  Based on the children’s book The Leaf Men and the Brave Good Bugs by William Joyce, “Epic” tells the story of Mary Katherine (Amanda Seyfried), a young woman attempting to reconnect with her father, the eccentric Professor Bomba (Jason Sudekis), a scientist who swears there is a race of tiny people living in the surrounding forest.  Unbeknownst to Mary Katherine (who prefers to be called M.K.), her father is correct and the race of tiny people in the forest are what keeps the forest from facing total destruction.

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As M.K. is moving back into her father’s house, we are introduced to Nod (Josh Hutcherson), a young Leafmen warrior who shows little regard for protocol or procedure, as he engages a swarm of Boggans, the creatures to seek to destroy the forest.  We immediately see that the Boggans’ arrows cause decay in any of the tree limbs they pierce.  Just when Nod appears to be outnumbered, he is rescued by Ronin (Colin Farrell), a veteran Leafmen and personal friend of Nod’s late father.  After the two come into conflict, Nod leaves the Leafmen.  Ronin has little time to worry about this, however, as Queen Tara (Beyoncé Knowles), the queen of the forest, is set to choose her heir on this very day.  As she is selecting the bud that will become her heir, however, the Leafmen are ambushed by Mandrake (Christoph Waltz), the leader of the Boggans, and his troops.  Though Queen Tara does her best to save the forest and herself, she ultimately falls victim to one of Mandrake’s arrows.  Before she dies, however, she passes her abilities on to her heir and encounters M.K., shrinking her to the size of the Leafmen and entrusting her with the mission to save the pod and, ultimately, the forest.

 

One thing in particular that stood out about Epic was the incredible animation.  The imagery of the forest was striking and the 3D effects worked very well.  The story itself moved at a steady pace, tying the various storylines together with enough surprises to keep audiences guessing as to not necessarily what was going to happen next, but how.  Amanda Seyfried and Beyoncé Knowles were standouts on the voice cast, as were Colin Farrell and Josh Hutcherson.  I was even pleasantly surprised by Mub (Aziz Ansarai) and Grub (Chris O’Dowd), a slug and snail respectively, who are the official keepers of the royal pods.  Steven Tyler as Nim Galuu and Pitbull as Bufo (a toad) were the only voices on the cast that seemed out of place, verging on stunt casting territory.

 

Epic is sure to draw comparisons to several previously released films, particularly Fern Gully, Avatar and possibly even The Lorax, but it bears noting that Epic focuses far more on the tale at hand as opposed to the message behind it, which I found to be quite refreshing.  Gone were the heavy handed messages; in their place, a story about a father and daughter reconnecting through the loss of a loved one, while helping a race of forest dwellers protect their home.  As schools begin to let out for summer, movie theaters are going to start filling up with one animated feature after another.  And while there is plenty of competition at the movies this year when it comes to animated family films, Epic is a fun story with beautiful visuals that is not to be missed.  In short, Epic is nothing less than epic.

Andrew Noles 5.24.13

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