Thursday, May 30, 2013


Aziz Ansari doesn't make as good a slug as Amanda Seyfried makes a beautiful girl.
 ** out of ****

Epic is an ideal airplane movie. The kids can listen in on the dialogue via headphones, giggling at the dumb jokes and the adults can appreciate the eye candy of its beautiful animation, without the burden of following its soulless storytelling.

It’s funny to realize that as a fan of animation -of all kinds- that this is the first production from Blue Sky Studios (Ice Age) that I have seen. I guess that it is the first one I've felt drawn to. Majestic forest settings tend to guarantee aesthetic pleasure. The movie does deliver some beautiful imagery if not the most original designs. There is an undeniably glowing presence to the cute red headed teen heroine and Amanda Seyfried brings to her a charming voice.

The movie is about a magical world of tiny warriors who guard the woods. Then it’s about the teenage girl, Mary Katherine (who goes by “M.K.”), from our world who has just lost her mother and is going to stay with her estranged father (Voice of Jason Sudeikis). The man is an eccentric scientist living in a house next to the woods where he obsesses over his theory of these little people’s existence.

A warrior (voiced decently by Colin Farrell) defends the forest from the vicious creatures called Boggans, lead by an evil conqueror (appropriately voiced by Christoph Waltz). The Queen of the Leafmen (voiced boringly by Beyonce Knowles) is to pick a successor who may rule when she is gone. A battle starts during the ceremony before anyone is chosen and the Queen is mortally wounded. By some miracle of perception, M.K., while chasing her Dad’s three-legged one-eyed pug (the most entertaining character of the movie) through the forest, sees the Queen and attempts pick her up and help. Somehow in doing this, she is magically miniaturized and the queen gives to her a mission, as a dying request.

While comparisons to FernGully: The Last Rainforest are inevitable, the beginning of the story reminded me of 1982’s Tron for its horribly rough start. Cutting back and forth between a magical world and the real one during the introduction, can demand a lot out of an audience.

I enjoyed the touch of making the world of tiny things something that exists within an advanced plane of time, which explains their ability to slip past normal people very quickly with the same speed and reaction ability of a fly. Ignatiy Vishnevetsky, in his review for, said that this is the most entertainingly creative aspect of the film, and sadly, only put to use in one major sequence. The rest is all mindless battle stuff we’ve seen before.

When a kid’s movie isn’t entertaining me, all I can think to do is look for educational value. I don’t know what this movie is trying to teach kids. The good guys are are like little humans allied with flowers and pretty-looking things of the forest. The bad guys are like bugs who ride bats and enjoy making the forest rot and die… What?

As I said at the beginning, for an adult, this movie is better to look at than listen to. Of the all-star voice cast, only certain key-plyers provide decent work. Josh Hutcherson as the young Leafman warrior sounds a little distanced from his role. Chris O’Dowd and Aziz Ansari provide the comic relief for the movie as a snail and slug with delusions of grandeur. For two people I generally find funny, I couldn’t stand them here. I also don’t ever want to hear Steven Tyler’s voice in an animated movie again. Big names don’t always mean effective voices. Cartoon voice work easily suffers because the environment in which it is recorded is so easily impersonal. Pixar is one of the only companies who excel in it. 

Danny Elfman provides music that sounds like leftovers from his boring Oz the Great and Powerful score. He really needs to stick to drama movies. It’s the only area where he does anything original anymore but I’m sure this pays better.

This review may seem obsolete, as many people considering the movie just want their kids to be entertained. They will be. It just seems like the kind of movie a kid will easily grow out of. There is something cynical to me about children’s entertainment playing dumb. A Kid’s movie is more valuable when one can return to it at an older age and feel an enduring nostalgia.

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