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2013 | 102 min | PG | 2.39:1



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Theatrical release date

 24 May, 2013
 22 May, 2013

Country of origin

 United States

Technical aspects

3D (native)

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Overview Preview Cast & crew User reviews News Forum

Screenshots from Epic Blu-ray

Epic Preview  

 / 10
Preview by Brian Orndorf, May 23, 2013

The Cartoon-o-Tron 9000 sparks to life and cranks out “Epic,” a feature filled with so many derivative ideas and formulaic events, it’s difficult to assess what’s actually novel about the picture. From the production team that brought the world the “Ice Age” series and “Robots,” “Epic” has its eye on a blockbuster plan of engagement, hoping to wow its audience with an expansive fantasy world populated with miniature heroes and villains. What’s missing here is a personality of its own, with director Chris Wedge more attentive to marketing needs and CG-animated minutiae than supporting an engaging story. It’s a mechanical, halfhearted effort, and while it’s lovely to look at, there’s little to the movie that lives up to its lofty title.

After the death of her mother, M.K. (voiced by Amanda Seyfried) is off to live with her daffy scientist father, Professor Bomba (Jason Sudeikis), a man obsessed with the forest that surrounds his house, swearing there are tiny creatures inhabiting the woods. These warriors of virtue are called The Leaf Men, led by Ronin (Colin Farrell), sworn to protect Queen Tara (Beyonce Knowles), a kindly royal with great powers tied the wellbeing of her green kingdom. Mandrake (Christoph Waltz) and his wicked Boggans are the sworn enemy of The Leaf Men, determined to destroy the forest and prevent Queen Tara from passing on her powers via a magical flower. Frustrated with Bomba’s disinterest, M.K. attempts to leave his house, only to fall directly into the line of fire, miniaturized by Queen Tara and tasked with bringing the flower to the all-knowing keeper of the scrolls, Nim Galuu (Steven Tyler). Overwhelmed with her new size and surroundings, M.K. is quickly calmed by Ronin, who calls on his irresponsible charge Nod (Josh Hutcherson) for help, while snail Grub (Chris O’Dowd) and slug Mub (Aziz Ansari) tag along on the ride to safety, facing waves of Boggans and misunderstandings on the way to securing a healthy future for the forest.

Though I’m sure Wedge is particularly sick of the comparison already, it’s difficult for viewers of a certain age to watch “Epic” and not think of the 1992 feature, “FernGully: The Last Rainforest.” Perhaps Wedge would rather have his work matched with the spectacle of “Avatar,” but “Epic,” while filled with adventure sequences and fluid animation, is more “FernGully” in its depiction of a human magically reduced to greet the inhabitants of a lively forest, facing increasing threats from polluting enemies. While the movie is based on a book by William Joyce, Wedge pulls inspiration from everywhere, mangling the original text beyond recognition, turning a simple story of garden activity into a “Star Wars” homage that clings tightly to an uninspired screenwriting template to reach the widest possible audience.

We have comic relief in Grub and Mub, two clowning mollusks in charge of keeping the magical flower moist during its long journey back home -- an awfully thin reason to make sure the ho-hum goofballs stay in the story; Nod fulfills the reckless prince position, learning responsibility as he puts away childish things and grows into a powerful Leaf Man, sending a little woo toward M.K. in the process; Mandrake is a standard-issue villain, part-ham, part-mourning father, reducing the greenery of the forest to ashes with his unidentified powers; and Ronin is a father figure to The Leaf Men, responsible and brave and concerned without ever displaying an identifying trait that could make the character interesting (additional promise is left unfulfilled with the warrior’s hazily defined romantic feelings for the untouchable Queen Tara) . Cliches and pilfering abound in “Epic,” with Professor Bomba a Wayne Szalinski-type, neglectful but loving, while daughter M.K. is just a girl with a wounded heart, barely participating in the adventure, used primarily as a surrogate for the audience.

The screenwriting is surprisingly lazy, always reaching for the most obvious punchline or action set-piece while neglecting the charisma of the characters, also blowing a consistent tone as “Epic” drunkenly weaves from menace to monkey business without signaling its turns, even tossing in a musical number featuring Nim Galuu that stops the movie cold. Not helping is the voice cast, ranging from talented actors to comedians, while music stars fill out the ensemble. However, these singers and rappers (Pitbull pops up as a gangster toad) are irritatingly mumbly and gravely, leaving a huge gap in the talent pool, cast here solely for their brand name and willingness to provide tunes for the soundtrack. It’s amateur hour when real voice artists are left out in the cold.

“Epic” only comes alive when it plays with scale, engineering a few sequences where the little people of the forest interact dangerously with humans and Bomba’s one-eyed, three-legged pug. Wedge shows a sense of humor with communication and evasion during these encounters, hinting at an “Epic” that might’ve been if the screenplay followed its heart instead of its financial interests. It’s certainly a colorful film with serious potential for a detailed universe of bird-riding Leaf Men and their daily duties keeping the forest safe for future generations of flowers, plants, and trees. Instead of soaking up the atmosphere, “Epic” plays it safe and bland, resembling scores of similar fantasy adventures.

Starring: Beyoncé Knowles, Colin Farrell, Josh Hutcherson, Amanda Seyfried, Johnny Knoxville, Christoph Waltz
Director: Chris Wedge

» See full cast & crew

Epic, Forum Discussions

Last post
What do you consider an "epic?" 97 Jan 09, 2010
Truly epic & beautiful movies? 59 Apr 11, 2013
Gears of War Trilogy to be 'Epic' 52 May 06, 2009

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