Great animated movie! There's a lot to love about the film, including its production design, visual artistry, and the 3D, which are as dazzling, grand, spectacular, and innovative as, say, Avatar. Danny Elfman did a very good job with the music score as he captured the spirit, excitement, essence, and heart of the film. Epic goes to prove to people that animated films can also really handle the action-adventure genre as much as live-action films do, just like how Peter Pan, Sleeping Beauty, Akira, Atlantis: The Lost Empire, The Incredibles, and Kung Fu Panda trilogy did. With this film, Blue Sky Studios wanted to prove everyone that they can do so much more than pop culture references, cheap jokes, and unimaginative storytelling. They've not only exceeded that, they surpassed it and beyond. With this film, this is a promising launch of the new Blue Sky Studios, which has declared war on DreamWorks, Disney Animation, and Pixar. You will be laughing, astonished, amazed, blown away, and inspired, because Epic truly stands out as one of the most surprising film experiences of the year.
Young Mary Katherine (M.K.) returns to her eccentric scientist father's home, but his all-consuming quest to discover a tiny civilization in the neighboring forest drives them apart. However, M.K. soon finds herself shrunken down by Queen Tara of that forest who was mortally wounded by the putrefying Boggans, and charged to deliver a pod bearing the new Queen to safety. Together with a veteran Leafman warrior, two goofy mollusks and a young maverick, M.K. agrees to help. As the villainous Boggan leader, Mandrake closes in, M.K. and her new friends must draw on the best of themselves together and discover what they have to save their world.
The plot is pretty unoriginal really and we've similar stories in other films. A young girl is shrunken down to the size of a bug and is accidentally throw into a bug sized war between human-like warriors and orc-like creatures. All of this takes place within a regular forest in the regular world near the young girls house. So basically its a bug war kicking off in your backgarden right under your nose.
Not quite sure why the film is called 'Epic' when the book isn't but there you go, I guess because of the scale of the war going on?. Anywho I'm gonna come right out say I really liked this film, I dug it, its totally cliched and completely formulaic but it works well. Pretty much all the characters are likeable and well rounded, again most of them we've seen before in other animated films, nothing too special about talking snails, slugs, flies etc...its been done, but it looks good and is nicely amusing at times.
This is the main focal point of the film, the visuals. Like many animated films these days it looks tremendous I kid you not, both worlds we see, human and bug, are awesome in spectacle. When we are introduced to the bug sized world its one of those moments when you say to yourself 'I could live there, I want to live there, it looks fun'. Everything looks so lush and green, so vibrant and colourful, its really gorgeous and such an eye opener. On the flip side the baddie bug sized world is also awesome in its murky, rotten, dark, fungi, dead tree filled way, not exactly ground breaking stuff though.
These visuals also extend to the characters, the good guys are a green armour clad humanoid warrior race called 'Leaf Men'. Now this guys look so flipping cool, their armour is a lovely leaf plated design with intricate pattern etched into the plates, they carry swords, wear gladiator style helmets and ride on the back of green/blue hummingbirds, their steeds of choice. They basically look like eco warrior samurai and their leader voiced nicely by Colin Farrell is called 'Ronin', which of course you all know is another word for samurai (without a master). The Irish samurai.
There are also you're standard sidekick type creatures as with any animated kids flick. Here they are nothing original in the form of a snail and a slug but I gotta give kudos to the voice actors because these two guys are very amusing, and kinda adorable looking. They have an awesome amount of detail on them though, really look good.
The bad guys are kinda like orcs I guess although their heads look a bit like a sharks head, they are called 'Boggans'. They are you're typical baddies, they don't talk they just grunt n roar, they are drab coloured and all look the same. But there are various types of bad guys, basically any creature or bug that you would deem scary or has a bad reputation is classed as a bad guy. Bullfrogs, mosquitoes, spiders, crows, bats etc...all baddies. On the flip side you have various creatures that are classed as goodies like snails, slugs, glowworms, hummingbirds etc...There are also various plant/flower creatures in the form of Daisy's, Thistles, Dandelions etc...most of these makeup background characters.
One thing, all the characters in this are errr...white people, accept for the Queen, who is black, why?. Just seemed rather odd to me to have just one character stand out from the rest like that. Unfortunately the Queen is voiced badly by Beyoncé Knowles which doesn't help either, just doesn't sound right or match her character at all.
In all honesty the film is all about the visuals as the plot is highly generic. You know what's gonna happen as we've seen this type of thing a gazillion times over. The main female character is cute looking and does everything as you would expect, although she takes to this new world pretty quickly, I'm sure most would be freaked out for ages. Much like the main villain who also does everything you would expect and gets his comeuppance predictably. Its all very light vs dark, all the goodies are colourful and bright, all the baddies are dark, gloomy and shadowy.
So yeah its all very obvious but its still a fun time with some stunning visuals. The finale is quite epic in scale and does lock you in for sure, does seem to be copying 'Star Wars' a wee bit but hey its cool. The film does slyly use other film influences throughout no doubt. Steve Tyler's glowworm character does seem to have been plucked from 'Alice in Wonderland' if you ask me, Tyler's vocals also sound like they have been plucked from said Disney film spookily, good voice work actually, surprising.
I think you can tell from what I've written here this is a character based flick, there are many other fun characters in here also. Fun characters, well crafted details and overall delicious visuals, shame about the by the numbers story line...but still fun!.
All manners of poise are lost as the film stumbles needlessly into another "action adventure" full of parodies and humor. Don't get me wrong, I love comedy! It's what made Disney's "Tangled" so refreshing from their previous Princess-movies. It wasn't bad humor either, in fact the jokes were quite well written.
But the story just isn't there with Epic and as the characters (loveable or hilarious that they are), progress through their journey viewers have very little to hang their hat on.
It's unfortunate, BlueSky created a wonderful foundation to build off of and I could see many possible themes of sophistication that just didn't bear fruit. In the end I left the theater ambivalent... on one hand I enjoyed the film but was clearly disappointed that it wasn't the "something more" I knew it could have been.
PS. Ansari's Mub was stellar.
Now, with all of my joking about how this cast is somewhat all over the place in its seriousness and whatnot (Everyone from Christoph Waltz to Pitbull; what is up with this?), the film itself is somewhat all over the place with its tone, carrying a generally lighthearted energy that goes broken by overt heights in fluff and humor, if not heights in dramatic kick, and whose breaking leaves the humor and depth to go diluted in its effectiveness. The tonal inconsistencies limit impact, and it doesn't help that the film's tonal extremes at least keep consistent in cheesiness, which sometimes plagues the more dramatic attributes with bloated moments in atmospheric kick, while delivering more frequently of somewhat corny dialogue and characterization thinness. Subtlety issues and a sense of kiddiness mark particularly glaring missteps in inspiration consistency within storytelling, although I can't say that substance is often, if at all all that inspired. Whether it be because of the attempts at family friendliness or whatever, this film's bite to consequence and depth is limited, even in concept, where the story feels held back, and, of course, further watered down by sheer familiarity. While this effort is rarely all that trite, it is, not barely, or hardly, but never all that refreshing, being practically shameless in its offering formulaic characterization, as well as plotting that is even more formulaic, until the final product collapses as hopelessly predictable, thus leaving a sense of laziness in certain areas to go further emphasized. Well, I don't know if I would be so quick to denounce this film as lazy, even I am only referring to certain elements, as this is a passably inspired effort, but I certainly can't say that this film is as inspired or consistent as it should have been, which isn't to say that natural shortcomings to this somewhat thin narrative don't hold the final product back enough to make it hard to challenge forgettability, reinforced by all of the tonal unevenness, kiddiness and clichés. Regardless, the fact of the matter is that inspiration, while limited, is adequate, particularly in the film's artistic aspects.
Conventional, but lively, like the usual Danny Elfman effort, this film's score offers a heartfelt grandness that compensates for familiarity just fine, and is sometimes beautiful, while visuals prove to be more recurrently gorgeous, due to Renato Falcão's deliverance on rich coloration and crisp lighting that catch your eyes and emphasize the loveliness of the animations themselves. Well, some designs aren't especially creative, but most everything built into this world is impressive, as there is a rich diversity to the designs whose individual components are distinguished and memorable, with thoughtful depth and energy, particularly during the well-staged and sometimes near-grippingly dynamic action set pieces. Well-scored and colored, on top of being well-animated, this film's stylistic and technical proficiency, alone, bring a nifty world to life pretty remarkably, and do so with the help of performances which play just as big of a role as strong animation in selling well-crafted characters. There are some show-stealers, from the delightfully amusing Aziz Ansari and Chris O'Dowd, to the, as strong figures, effectively distinguished Colin Farrell and Christoph Waltz, but really, most everyone plays his or her part well in terms of carrying this story, which doesn't exactly need all of the technical and acting color to intrigue. Granted, this story is, as I've said time and again, familiar, as well as lacking in flavor, but make no mistake, intrigue is here, found within a fair bit of depth and layering that make for an interesting idea, brought to life by highlights in a passably inspired interpretation. Backed by a pretty sizable team to be so under-inspired, William Joyce's, James V. Hart's, Daniel Shere's, Tom J. Astle's and Matt Ember's script is uneven, but not too shabby in handling its tonal extremes, gracing humor with general sharpness and depth with some meat, and being done a fair bit of justice by a directorial performance by Chris Wedge whose style sustain an entertaining pacing, sometimes slowed down enough to soak up depths and strengthen a sense of compellingness. Observing the promotion of this project, I felt that the film could have either hit pretty hard or underwhelmed, and while I am disappointed to find that the final product leans more towards the latter fate, I found myself entertained, if not engaged by the genuinely well-done elements - of which there are many - to find a decent, if forgettable family mini-epic, if you will.
In conclusion, a not-so-grand story's limpness goes stressed by tonal inconsistencies, cheesiness, a degree of dramatic laziness, and a lack of originality, until the final product slips as underwhelming, but not so deeply that lovely score work and cinematography, solid animations and action, decent performances and adequately inspired writing and direction can't be embraced for making Chris Wedge's shamelessly titled "Epic" (Seriously, they forced that) an entertaining and sometimes compelling family adventure opus, forgettable though it may be.
2.5/5 - Fair
The film reminded me of animated films like A Bug's Life, Ant Bully, Antz, and Ferngully. It also reminded me in a weird way of Honey I Shrunk the Kids, Avatar, Lord of the Rings, and Star Wars. The actors are well casted in their voice roles.
Overall it is ok, but the film could have been so much better.