Epic Directed by: Chris Wedge Cast: (Voices of) Amanda Seyfried, Josh Hutcherson, Christoph Waltz, Jason Sudeikis, Beyonce Knowles, Aziz Ansari, Chris O'Dowd Running Time: 1 hrs 42 mins Rating: PG Release Date: May 24, 2013
PLOT: A young human being (Seyfried) becomes a central figure in a battle between warring forest creatures in Connecticut.
WHO'S IT FOR? Epic aims to pull the ultimate family whammy by featuring a young girl, a young boy, war, princesses, flowers, dogs, etc. While these elements might be enticing, this animated movie's preoccupation with warfare is worth warning families about. This film may not inspire wonder about another world, but horror.
EXPECTATIONS: Even in the crowded calendar of the summer movie season, there's always room for a surprise, especially in the ever-evolving field of feature animation. Would this weakly titled film at least be able to show such a name isn't a cop out?
Amanda Seyfriend and Josh Hutcherson as Mary Katherine and Nod: As the two leading young adults in this movie, this voice-acting duo is simply serviceable in bringing their mediocre characters to animated life. Fitting to the mentality of how Epic handles a fairy tale, they provide nothing special to their respective roles of accidental hero and cocky young soldier. Score: 5
Rest of Cast: Christoph Waltz handles this dark villain on the autopilot he casually reverts to when not on a Tarantino set, allowing his distinct voice and accent to make his character stand out most of all. Jason Sudeikis is endearing with his nasally portrayal of Mary Katherine's father, an obsessed scientist trying to prove his aspirations to both his family and the rest of the world. The movie's center conflict is kicked off with whimsical line-reading from Knowles' queen character. Having the most fun collecting their paychecks are Aziz Ansari and Chris O'Dowd, as two slug sidekicks to the human-looking leaf men. Ansari is especially amusing, channeling his thug persona from his comedy to that of a thuggin' slug behind a recording booth. Score: 4
TALKING: The dialogue for Epic is mostly fairy tale dust and flat jokes, something that makes the average experience of this film feel even more sluggish; a strong surplus of forgettable side characters do not assist either. Such lighthearted content also fails to balance out this movie's preoccupation with death, the dark content lingering more in this PG movie than any of its uplifting attempts. Score: 4
SIGHTS: In anticipation of being experienced for the most expensive ticket possible, Epic caters its visual sequences to common 3D opportunities, despite the lack of necessity 3D has when viewing the overall product. Yup, there's definitely a "Now THIS is pod racing!" race sequence, and also a handful of moments in which the audience's POV rapidly descends with falling characters. That being said, the animation of Epic is continually inspired, with visuals that do make for good battle scenes, etc. Watching such animation, and eventually taking it all for granted, one wishes this dedication was simply applied to a better story. Score: 8
SOUNDS: The movie's battle-cry to turn the protection of identity into warfare is supported by Beyonce's "Rise Up," which pontificates to exiting filmgoers that we "we will fight and together we will rise, fight for you and me." A sign of the times that animation movies have indeed evolved despite maintaining the same shape, Epic only features one half song being sung within the movie, a forgettable old fashioned party romp as performed by Steven Tyler. Score: 4
BEST SCENE: While it may end up as another moment in which Epic refuses to surprise its audience, a sequence involving a jumbo pug in slow motion chasing around certain characters indoors provides one of the animated film's more striking visuals.
ENDING: Epic leaves ample room open for a second story, which considering the dynamic established at the end of the movie, could indeed be more interesting than its predecessor. Unfortunately, it would inevitably make way for a film with an even lamer title than this movie, that being Epic 2.
QUESTIONS: Why use "leaf men"? Is it easier to use characters that look like human beings, as opposed to creating other races, or something more relatable? Why are leaf men even there overall? Do the leaf men not think that Mary Katherine's hoodie is a weird piece of clothing? Also, is that the most bizarre fruit fly joke in cinema history?
REWATCHABILITY: Aside from maybe using it to pass out while watching on Instant Netflix, I won't be taking a second look at this ol' movie soon. However, I would certainly be amused in seeing a mash-up clip of all of Ansari's and O'Dowd's scenes on Youtube.
While there are a few touches of distinct creativity to be found in this story, much of the film is creatively stunted, functioning as if mediocrity is the only way in which such a tale can be told. Predictability abounds throughout this animated movie, despite the inspiration that has gone into its animation.
The film's one memorable paint of creativity is a dark one, as this animated movie is constantly and needlessly morbid with its content. Despite these animated characters having perma-grins, Epic has a preoccupation with death, in which everyone in this fairy tale seems bonded by extreme loss. Such loss even inspires the revenge sought in the movie's least creative attribute, its extreme militarization. However elaborate its battle sequences may be, such a focus on turning a trip to the forest into war time doesn't bolster the story's creativity, but admit that ideas are running slim. The fluffiness of the movie is not distracted from as well with the Epic's dark content, its villain registering with the same absurd blackness of an animated 90s era Disney villain.
Despite relying on the fertile ground of the fairy tale for its plot elements and characters, Epic doesn't grow into anything special on its own. Epic chooses to fight its way out of being continually average, with fruitless results.
FINAL SCORE: 5/10