Movie Review: Epic

Epic or Epic Fail?

author: Timmie

Last weekend, predominantly due to boredom, I found myself going to see the new Dreamworks animated film, Epic (2013).  While I went into the theater with no particular opinion formed, I was vastly unmoved by the whole production.  With a title like Epic, one assumes something bold and exciting right?

The film sported a decent cast overall, with the obvious exceptions of Beyoncé Knowles, who was exactly as awkward in her role as Queen Tara as I expected, and Pitbull (Bufo), who wins the award for most random casting in this film.  But with distinguished actors such as Christoph Waltz (Mandrake), Amanda Seyfried (M.K.), and even Colin Farrell, I was hoping for something at least mildly entertaining for an hour and forty minutes.

Alas, the movie mostly reminded me of a classic and albeit terrible movie from my childhood, Ferngully: The Last Rainforest (1992), but without the obviously preachy environmental message.  I don’t just mean that the scenario was similar. The same thing happens to the heroine, Mary Katherine (M.K.), as she is magically transformed into a 2” high version of herself and must live amongst the forest people throughout most of the film.  Once in the forest M.K. realizes that her zany scientist father (Jason Sudeikis) is not crazy, but has been right all about the magical forest societies.  M.K. learns that there are two competing societies in the forest, the good guys, who remain ambiguously unnamed, but include Queen Tara (Beyoncé), Ronin (Colin Farrell), and the Boggans, who represent death and decay and are led by the evil Mandrake (Christoph Waltz).

Spoiler Alert:  Queen Tara, who has some kind of romantic history with Ronin, is killed by the Boggans while on her way to choose a new heir to the forest, and M.K. must help Ronin save a magical pod that will bloom at midnight, bringing the new Queen to the forest.

Along the way we meet the quirky duo, Grub and Mub, a snail and a slug, voiced by comedic actors Chris O’Dowd and Aziz Ansari.  Although not prominently featured, and a little overdone, these two were probably the brightest spot in the movie.  The two provide moments of comedy and relief of the not-so-high tension.

Josh Hutcherson, previously of The Hunger Games and The Kids Are Alright, voices Nod, the teenaged rebel, and sort of son figure to Ronin, however the relationship is underdeveloped and unclear, as are many of the plot lines. Predictably, Nod becomes the love interest for M.K. for the rest of the film.

Rather than give the entire plot away I will just say that I was thoroughly unimpressed with Epic.  I can’t say that it was a horrible experience, but it was unimaginative and reeked of being over produced at every level.  I would be interested to read the children’s book this is “loosely” based on, The Leaf Men and the Brave Good Bugs by William Joyce, which is hopefully more inspired than this bland film rendition. 

Many of the themes throughout Epic depict a world divided, good versus evil, and possibly pro environmentalism.  However, everything about this movie is so non-committal that it’s difficult to tell what you are supposed to take away from it.  As I mentioned previously, Ferngully is not known as a masterpiece, but you can’t say that it isn’t clear about its motives and themes. Save the planet, and stop cutting down the rainforests!  I respect that, and I didn’t really need to see another animated movie that doesn’t even has the stones to say that that’s what it’s saying.

If you are interested in checking this movie out I would never say not to, however don’t go in expecting anything epic…pun intended.

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