Epic (2013)

by - May 24th, 2013 - Movie Reviews


Animated Epic Anything But

Based on a pair of books by noted author William Joyce, featuring a screenplay and a story credited to six different writers (including both the author as well as director Chris Wedge of Ice Age fame), the potential for greatness as it pertained to Fox’s latest CG animated adventure Epic was certainly high. One part The Borrowers, another Ferngully, all of it mixed together with elements resembling equal parts Star Wars and Avatar, the movie aspires to be an all-ages visual extravaganza fit for the entire family.

PHOTO: 20th Century Fox

If only that were the case. Epic, not to mince words, comes perilously close to being a disaster. The story has no direction, the two main heroes are a total bore, the villain is unfocused and his plans make little sense. The professorial father figure is the only character worth caring about, while a three-legged dog is used for comic relief and the central point to all of this visual razzmatazz is never clear. As great as it all looks, the story is a rudderless mess I could have cared less about, and by the time it was over all I could do was walk out of the theatre flabbergasted that the whole thing was as bad as it actually turned out to be.

Teenager Mary Katherine, “M.K.” for short (voiced by Amanda Seyfried), suddenly finds herself back in the country home of her scientist father (Jason Sudeikis) after a semi-unexplained tragedy leaves her separated from her mother. After a disagreement with dad, she comes across the insect-sized Queen Tara (Beyoncé Knowles), leader of a heroic forest-protecting band of warriors known as the Leaf Men, who subsequently shrinks her down to their size in order to help guard an all-import bud whose blossoming is important to the survival of the planet.

From there, M.K. finds herself stuck in the middle of an ongoing war between the Leaf Men and a race of rot loving creatures known as the Boggans, their leader Mandrake (Christoph Waltz) obsessed with transforming the world into a moldy disintegrating wasteland and desperately trying to get his hold on the un-blossomed bud. It’s up to her, Leaf Man general Ronin (Colin Farrell) and irrepressible young soldier Nod (Josh Hutcherson) to stop these plans from coming to fruition, these three the last line of defense against the Boggans, the fate of the entire Earth resting on their victory.

The problem? The threat never feels real, M.K. and Nod are horrible heroes (the latter in particular), the central themes about protecting Nature are muddled to the point of being invisible, and while Mandrake has a good bark his bite frustratingly leaves a lot to be desired. The last moments are so poorly thought out I’m still trying to figure out what any of the writers were thinking about when they crafted them. Heck, the only bright spot is Ronin, and that’s only because he actually does something of value in the movie and is confidently voiced by Farrell, and if not for him I’m not sure there’d be a single thing of merit to talk about.

PHOTO: 20th Century Fox

Okay. That’s not fair. A three-legged dog scrambling around slobbering on everyone is always good for a laugh or two, same goes for a pair of squishy, slime-covered slugs (well, a slug and a snail), but when you’re voiced by Chris O’Dowd and Aziz Ansari a few giggles are arguably par for the course. The animation is also relatively spectacular, the early moments introducing the Leaf Men and Boggans’s world quite engaging while also offering up important information regarding their why they have been historically at odds with one another.

Not that I care. There is no plot, at least not one that matters, and as such I was never invested in what was happening to M.K., Ronin, Nod or even the bud itself. No case is made about the balance Nature, how Light can’t exist without Dark or how death is a vital part of the natural order required for life to continue to blossom. Everything builds to the expected conclusion of Flash! and Boom! and Bang! and numerous more exclamations I can’t bring myself to mention. It’s pointless, and the only true emotion I felt watching Epic was a growing furious anger over just how inept all of this ultimately proved to be.

Film Rating: 1½ (out of 4)

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