Epic Review: Beautifully Animated But Forgettable & Uneven
[rating: 3] After the death of her mother, Mary Katherine (MK) is sent to live with her father Professor Bomba….
After the death of her mother, Mary Katherine (MK) is sent to live with her father Professor Bomba. He split from her mother, over his obsession that a nearby forest contains races of little people. To find evidence of this, he has placed cameras and recording devices all over the area. Within the forest, Queen Tara, under the guard of the Leafmen, has selected a pod that must bloom at certain time.
The Boggans are creatures that cause decay as opposed to making plants grow. Under their leader Mandrake, they attempt to sabotage the ceremony so that the forest will wither and die. During an attack on the Queen, Mary Katherine is shrunk down to the size of the Leafmen and charged with helping to protect the pod.
This movie looks great. The animation and detail of the forest is wonderful. The camera reveals in the swoops of the flying birds and the journeys across the forest. There are great scenes showing the smallness of the characters, against everyday objects. It successfully pulls off a scene with a mouse becoming a threat. I did not see this film in 3D, but I see how it is a good choice for the process.
However, despite all the effort of the animators which deserves praise, I was ultimately disappointed by this film. I’m not singling out the voice actors – with a few exceptions they are doing the best with what they have been given. It is the script driving the film that is causing almost every one of its problems.
Admittedly the plot is about getting a MacGuffin back to the right place for a ceremony that takes place every hundred years. It is a bit familiar, yes, but that is not a major drawback. The difficulty is that the characters just feel like ones that we have seen too many times before. The young cocky one who is still a brilliant pilot. The tough old veteran, trying to knock him into shape. The evil leader of the cannon fodder bad guys who want to spread decay through the forest because the movie needs to have a villain. The slug and snail that are there because the film must have comic relief.
The notion that an animated film must contain certain elements and types winds up harming the film. There is a musical number at one point, which appears to finish early , as if it was edited down. Characters start doing stupid things so that plot can continue. The Leafmen look human in contrast to the plant-based design of the other fairy folk of the forest on the grounds that the audience won’t care otherwise. Animals can vary from realistic and impressively realized natural creatures to cartoon-like, talking and wearing clothes.
Epic has five credited scriptwriters which might explain why the tone is uneven. The two young leads have lost a parent figure but this does not get much more than lip service. The main villain loses somebody but this is forgotten quickly, because that might complicate things. The film gives the impression that the inevitability of death was an important theme in the earlier script draft. Then at some point in the rewrites, it was lost.
As the film currently stands, it is an artistic triumph, but in terms of the story, it just takes elements from other films, such as FernGully, Avatar, Honey, I Shrunk the Kids, Jurassic Park and A Bug’s Life. But it does not add anything special because of self-imposed limitations. It will pass the time for children, but it won’t be remembered.
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