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When a teen age girl finds herself magically transported into this secret universe, she must band together with a rag-tag team of fun and whimsical characters in order to save their world…and ours.
For more about Epic and the Epic Blu-ray release, see Epic Blu-ray Review published by Casey Broadwater on August 21, 2013 where this Blu-ray release scored 3.5 out of 5.
Starring: Beyoncé Knowles, Colin Farrell, Josh Hutcherson, Amanda Seyfried, Johnny Knoxville, Christoph Waltz
Director: Chris Wedge
» See full cast & crew
Epic Blu-ray Review
It's a hard world for small things.
Reviewed by Casey Broadwater, August 21, 2013
The title of Blue Sky Studios' latest animated film seems to be both ironic and sincere, the former because Epic is concerned with an incredibly small-scale view—it stars little woodland creatures and a race of tiny, fairy-like humans—and the latter because the film tries to mount a large-scale action-adventure that pits the forces of leafy-green goodness against the minions of rot and decay. What the film isn't is epic in the hyperbolic modern sense, where the word is used interchangeably with "awesome," another word which has lost its original punch and scope. As an animated CGI family feature, Epic is decidedly mid-sized, not nearly as grand or inspiring as the Pixar productions and animated classics it imitates. There's a lot of A Bug's Life here, more than a little FernGully, and even some Secret of NIMH, which is to say that Epic is hardly original in its eco- minded exploration of the world beneath our feet. Drama-wise, it plays it safe too, ticking all the expected narrative boxes and giving the impression of a story told by formula rather than from the heart. Still, and this is a big still, I have no doubt that children—the intended audience—will like it. It's colorful and well-paced, there are funny sidekick characters, and it establishes a world that's fertile for imaginative post-viewing play. Epic might not go down as one of the all-time animated greats, but it's a decent summer diversion for kids young enough to enjoy it.
Amanda Seyfried voices the teenaged redhead Mary Katherine—she goes by "M.K."—who, after the death of her mother, travels to the country to live with her estranged dad, Professor Bomba (Saturday Night Live's Jason Sudeikis), an absentminded biologist whose weird theoretical obsessions led both his wife and the scientific community to ostracize him. See, Bomba "has a delusional belief in an advanced society of tiny people living in the woods," and he spends his days setting up cameras and traipsing through the forest wearing steampunk-ish microscope goggles, hoping to catch a glimpse of these hypothesized creatures.
Of course, he's right. They're real—we wouldn't have a movie otherwise—and not only that, but they're also responsible for maintaining the balance of life and death in the forest. And this balance is highly unstable at the moment. The two-inch-high Queen Tara (Beyoncé Knowles), who has the magical power to create new greenery with a wave of her hand, is in the process of selecting her heir from a group of flower pods growing on lily pads. The evil oogedy-boogedy Boggans, though, led by their imp king Mandrake (Christoph Waltz), want a forest world overrun with rot and vermin, and conspire to steal the chosen pod, shooting Tara off the hummingbird piloted by her bodyguard Ronin (Collin Farrell), commander of the Leafmen army. While running away from her dad's home, M.K. happens to witness Tara falling to the ground, still clutching the pod, and before she knows it, the queen has shrunk her down to 1:36 scale and—with her dying breath—commanded her to deliver the pod to the glowworm Nim Galuu (Steven Tyler), a forest historian/musical showman who will apparently know what to do with it.
M.K. is naturally freaked out at first at having been miniaturized Honey I Shrunk the Kids-style, but since she believes Galuu is the only one who can restore her to her proper height, she's pretty much forced to go along on the quest. She's helped in her journey by the stoic Ronin, the goofy pod guardians Mub (Aziz Ansari) and Grub (Chris O'Dowd)—a smooth-talking slug and a chubby snail, respectively—and an arrogant, independent young Leafman named Nod (Josh Hutcherson), who will inevitably become M.K.'s love interest. He's also the subject of the film's main subplot, which has him leaving the Leafmen and striking out on his own for a short-lived career as a "bird-racer." (Think the pod-racing scene from Star Wars: The Phantom Menace.) In due time, he learns the valuable life-lesson that is the Leafmen's motto: "Many leaves, one tree. We're all individuals, but we're still connected."
Based loosely on a children's book by William Joyce, the film was apparently written by committee, with—including Joyce—five screenwriters credited. The plot is definitely a by-the-numbers affair, and offers few surprises, but it hums along nicely, never flagging in its kid-friendly energy. There are frantic battle scenes between the Boggans and the Leafmen, a semi-scary encounter with a rat, and even a musical number—courtesy of Steven Tyler—although this last addition is arguably unneeded and out of place. On the whole, the voice acting is strong, with Django Unchained's Christoph Waltz making a fine villain and Aziz Ansari stealing the show whenever his suave-but-inept slug is on screen. This is all routine animated movie stuff—celebrity voices, colorful action, PG-rated comedy—but Epic does differentiate itself somewhat in the fun way that it illustrates the differences in physics and physical ability between the human-sized "stompers" like Professor Bomba, who appear to move in slow motion from the perspective of the tiny creatures on the ground, and the fleet-footed Leafmen, who can run and jump and lift with an impressiveness that's only possible on their scale. They've basically got the strength of ants and the speed of flies, and I imagine four-to-ten-year-olds might think that's pretty cool.
Epic Blu-ray, Video Quality
Coming from Blue Sky Studios—the same production team behind the Ice Age series—it should come as no surprise that Epic looks fantastic on Blu-ray, with a 1080p/AVC-encoded presentation that's bold, colorful, and highly dimensional even in its 2D iteration. I really can't muster any complaints here. None of the usual picture quality bugaboos apply from a normal viewing distance—there's no harsh, artifact-causing compression, no stair-step aliasing, no encode glitches, no banding or noise—and the image holds up to the closest pixel-peeping inspection too. The film's stylized look doesn't go for photorealism, but there's a lot of great detail and texture in the character designs and the surrounding forest world. The almost palpable surface of flower petals. The weft of the professor's burlap satchel. The Leafmen's plated armor. M.K.'s wispy hair. Mandrake's bat-pelt cloak. All of it is sharply rendered, with crisp lines and a vivid color palette that—as expected—is heavy on forest greens and bright flowery hues. (Though the darker, blue-cast scenes in Mandrake's rotting kingdom look just as good.)
In 3D, the picture loses none of its clarity or color. In fact, some details actually look a little sharper, especially whiskers and animal fur, because they have the illusion of added dimensionality. Overall, Epic's use of 3D is tastefully restrained—no eye-gouging, jump-out-of-the-screen effects— preferring pleasing layers of depth to gimmicky projection. (Given the density of the forest in many scenes, it would quickly grow tiring if branches and leaves were constantly waving in your face.) Whether or not the depth really adds to the experience of the film is subjective and up for debate, but the 3D is at least done well, with more than a few "oooh, wow, look at that" moments. If your TV set is prone to ghosting issues, the cluttered forest scenes may give you some slight trouble, but otherwise crosstalk is minimal. If vibrant CGI imagery—in 2D or 3D—is your kind of demo-worthy eye candy, Epic definitely fits the bill.
Epic Blu-ray, Audio Quality
The film's lossless DTS-HD Master Audio 7.1 surround track is just as impressive, overabundant with energetic—but carefully considered—sound design. There's the near-constant backdrop of forest ambience, to start, and in front of this are lively cross-channel movements that put the entire soundfield to good use. Hummingbirds hovering and darting to and fro. Professor Bomba's three-legged dog running spastic loops around us. Arrows zipping. Bats swarming en masse. The aching crack of a falling tree and the resultant spray of dirt and leaves as it crashes down. There's rarely a dull moment. The simulated immersion is matched by solid dynamics; highs are clear and tight, mids have good projection, and the low-end rumbles away when needed. Danny Elfman's vaguely Irish-inspired score has great presence too—with lilting flute lines atop traditional orchestral sounds—and the dialogue cuts cleanly through the mix, always understandable. For this type of movie, you couldn't ask for more. The disc also includes a number of dub and subtitles options; please see the top of the page for full details.
Epic Blu-ray, Special Features and Extras
Note that all of the extras are on the included 2D Blu-ray disc. The 3D disc contains only the film itself.
Epic Blu-ray, Overall Score and Recommendation
Epic isn't quite as epic as its title would suggest, and it offers little outside the animated CGI family feature norm—recognizable celebrity voice actors, simple themes, cute sidekicks—but, if nothing else, it at least has the energy and excitement needed to keep kids occupied with the story. (And maybe keep them occupied for a few hours later, re-enacting their favorite scenes.) Adults, meanwhile, will probably feel a lingering sense of déjà vu noticing how much of this movie has been recycled from other, better family films. High definition eye-candyholics and home theater junkies may get a kick from the grade-A video/audio presentation, though—and the 3D is aces too—which might tip Epic into the "purchase" category for some.
Epic: Other Editions
Epic Blu-ray, News and Updates
• Blu-ray Sales, August 19-25: Epic Overtakes Olympus for Number One - August 29, 2013
For the week that ended on August 25th, Twentieth Century Fox's Epic topped both the Blu-ray-only and overall package media charts. An animated adaptation of William Joyce's The Leaf Men and the Brave Good Bugs, Epic managed a surprisingly robust theatrical run ...
• This Week on Blu-ray: August 20-27 - August 17, 2013
For the week of August 20th, Twentieth Century Fox is releasing Epic, the fun, sprightly adaptation of William Joyce's The Leaf Men and the Brave Good Bugs. Other releases include Season Three of HBO's Boardwalk Empire, the Academy Award-winning Amour, Mark Steven ...
• Epic Officially Announced - July 23, 2013
Twentieth Century Fox Home Entertainment has officially announced and detailed its upcoming 2D and 3D Blu-ray releases of Epic (2013). Directed by Chris Wedge (The Ice Age Franchise) and featuring an amazing voice cast including Colin Farrell, Amanda Seyfried, ...
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