Epic: Uninventive Animated Adventure
Amanda SeyfriedAziz Ansari...
In 1 Cinema
Loosely based on William Joyce’s children’s book, The Leaf Men and the Brave Good Bugs, new animation, Epic, marks the first solo outing for director Chris Wedge, who was one of the masterminds behind popular animated feature series, Ice Age.
With a high-profile cast – including several big names from the music industry – Epic makes a decent addition to the world of animation, though the story lacks any sort of innovation.
After the passing of her mother, broody teenager, Mary Katherine (Seyfried), moves to the country-side with her slightly eccentric and nutty father, Professor Bomba (Sudeikis). Bomba – a devoted scientist – is convinced that the surrounding forest is occupied by a society of tiny people, and spends most of his time obsessing and observing surveillance video cameras, hoping to catch a glimpse of the tiny creatures.
Mary – who prefers to go by M.K now that she’s all grown up – is certain that her dad has officially gone bananas, but before too long, she finds herself coming face-to-face with Tara (Knowles), Queen of a race of miniature creatures called the Leafmen.
In a parallel story line, the Leafmen are at war with evil gremlin-like Boggans and their malicious leader, Mandrake (Waltz). At a field of leaf pods, where an heir is meant to be picked from among them, the Queen, accompanied by the gracious leader of the Leafmen soldiers, Ronin (Farrell), is attacked by Mandrake and the Boggans. Mary witnesses the Queen falling from the sky, before being transformed into one of these miniature beings – via magic, of course – and is charged with delivering the chosen pod to a glow worm named Nim Galuu (Tyler), so that it can bloom beneath the full moon, from which a new queen will blossom.
If one thing is for certain, it’s that Epic looks terrific. The rich visuals are vivacious and the creative use of the 3D animation brings the enchanted forest to life. The Hummingbirds, for example – which are the transport vehicles of choice – are especially endearing, while subsequent chase scenes are genuinely exciting.
However, with about half a dozen writers credited to the screenplay, the plot is overdone and struts on extremely uneven ground; Epic has a lot to say, but is not really sure how to say it. Moreover, everything about it feels borrowed and, considering its premise, nothing about it seems organic.
Both Farrell and Seyfried never feel like they embody their characters, while the efforts of Knowles and Tyler seem more like a case of attaching big names to the film than anything else. In the role of the antagonist, Academy award-winner, Waltz, is unfortunately let down by what is a one-dimensional character, though Ansari and O’Dowd – as two funny looking snails – offer some welcome light relief.
Epic is extremely sweet-natured and pleasing to the eye, but it fails to invite investment in its story and characters; its slow-paced proceedings make this so-called ‘epic’ story just a little bit of a drag.