Based on a children’s book by author and frequent film maker, William Joyce, Epic is a big story about little people. When Mary Katherine (Amanda Seyfried) comes to live with her estranged father (Jason Sudeikis), she’s dismayed to find he’s even more obsessed than ever with a secret magical forest society he’s convinced exists. A few hours with him is more than she can take, so she’s about to run off on her own when powerful forces draw her into a world of noble leaf men, talking bugs, and evil “Boggans.” Not to be confused with adventure seeking hobbits of similar name, Boggans are maggoty creatures bent on spreading their rot throughout the forest.
Like most animated features these days, the cast is a stacked deck, including Josh Hutcherson, Colin Farrell, Beyoncé Knowles, Christoph Waltz, Aziz Ansari, Chris O’Dowd, Pitbull, and Steven Tyler.
The plot is pretty simple, echoing elements of The Littles, Fern Gully, and every story of a kid becoming the hero of a magical hidden fairy kingdom. The Queen of the forest (Knowles) must pass on her magical powers by the time the moon is full or there will be know one to protect the world of Leaf-Men from the villainous Mandrake (Waltz) and his armies of rot-empowered Boggans. When plans are disrupted, the human girl, “M.K.” is pulled into the middle of everything. Together with the warrior Ronin (Farrell), cocky kid Nod (Hutcherson), and a slug snail duo (Ansari and O’Dowd) M.K. must save the day and restore balance.
This is exactly the type of story that would have caught my attention as a kid. An ordinary girl sucked into a magical world that she will help save from an evil force. Despite having the same setup as so many other stories, it is ripe for a fun, “epic” adventure. What we are given, however, is a passable film with a mostly cookie-cutter plot and wasted talent. The cast is great, but has little to work with, given the stale writing. Even Christoph Waltz can’t make the villain memorable when he has almost nothing to say. The animation has a unique look to it but never explodes off the screen like it should and completely wastes the potential of the 3D effect.
The audience, comprised largely of age appropriate children and their parents didn’t seem that enthused. There are few surprises to be had in this movie and the ending is a bit uninspired. I wouldn’t go so far as to call it boring, but it doesn’t live up to its name. The movie calls itself epic, and it tries its best to give that illusion. No pun intended, however, but it comes off as being pretty small. We get the sense that the Boggans are bad and are going to destroy the homes of these other good creatures, but there’s never a real sense of urgency or consequence for the rest of the world. Despite the frequent references to the balance of the forest being destroyed, we are never really told what that means for anything beyond a few trees and a meadow.
It’s a children’s movie, I get that. However, I’ve seen enough films with that label that transcend the genre, or at least embrace it with full imagination, to be impressed.
Mrs. Hamster says:
“It was cute but the 3D was pointless. I didn’t hear any kids laughing at the jokes either.”
My Rating: Two out of Five Hats
Epic flies into 3,800 theaters in 2D and 3D, May 24th