Epic is the newest 20th Century Fox and Blue Sky Studios 3D computer animated fantasy-adventure (and comedy!) film, based off William Joyce’s children’s book, The Leaf Men and the Brave Good Bugs. Directed by Chris Wedge of Ice Age fame, Epic tells the story of a scientist who suspects a sub-species of miniature creatures to be living in the forest. Once his daughter, MK, comes to live with him and magically shrinks down to the size of a toy car, she soon discovers the creatures are real and their whole society is in trouble. With the struggle of the forest’s very being at risk, MK must help her new friends if she ever wants to grow back to a normal size and see the forest continue to flourish. Epic combines many elements of plot, character development, comedy, suspense and drama into one whirlwind fantastical adventure that shows that just because you haven’t seen something, doesn’t mean it’s not there.
The plot of this story was told in two separate universes, which was pretty cool. In one universe, we meet scientist Professor Bomba (Jason Sudeikis) who, despite skepticism and criticism from others, is convinced there is a miniature society living in the forest. His daughter MK (Amanda Seyfried) comes to live with him in his house out in the woods where he conducts his research and doesn’t approve of his research, believing he is completely nuts.
The other universe is the soon to be discovered Leafmen, a tiny army who must protect the forest from their rivals who wish to destroy it, creatures called Boggans. The Boggans are lead by Mandrake (Christoph Waltz) and his son Dagda (Blake Anderson from Comedy Central’s Workaholics). The Leafmen are lead by Ronin (Colin Farrel) and he is also in charge of soldier Nod (Josh Hutcherson), who’s father passed away leaving Ronin as his caretaker.
The parent-child relationship are paralleled in all of the different stories, in many awkward, combative, and realistic depictions of some of the struggles that can often occur. Epic subtly shows that no matter who you are or where you come from, you couldn’t have gotten to where you are today without a little help.
Lighting and Rendering
One notable aspect of this film was the breathtakingly realistic textures, lighting and rendering. In the opening scene, before we meet characters, it’s near impossible to tell it’s a computer animation scene. The lighting throughout the entire film is spectacular, as is most of the visual animation. At this point in the 3D computer animation world, it’s pretty much all good, and harder than ever to find faults. For Epic, I was particularly impressed with the realism of the environments, as they were generally true to nature. Since it is a kids movie, sometimes colors were exaggerated to fit in with the fantasy story aspect. But overall, I was really impressed with how natural everything looked and thought it really added to some of the other genuine aspects in the story.
I found myself laughing throughout nearly the entire film, even during overly emotional moments, the writers found a way to add dabs of humor. Although it’s a children’s film, the comedy aspect would apply to audiences of all ages. The particularly notable comedic duo in the film are Mub (Aziz Ansari) and Grub (Chris O’Dowd), a slug and a snail respectively, the caretakers of the plant pods that will help save the forest. Even the evil leader of the Boggans, Mandrake, had several laugh-out-loud worthy one liners. Although it’s not particularly difficult to make me laugh, I have to point out that Epic procured some deep-bellied chuckles from the entire audience.
Although in general the film was well put together, and most of it’s elements were thought out, there were a few things that were sort of weird. For one, there was a scene where there romantic hints between MK and Nod, but they didn’t kiss, and I was fine with that. But then, right before she is about to be turned back to a human, and they’ll never be able to be together again, they kiss. I just don’t know why that was necessary when the non-kiss moment had already resolved their romance. It was irritating because now she basically just leaves the guy hanging, and it seemed like an afterthought.
Also sort of weird was the way that the Leafmen had to save the forest. Basically they’re supposed to protect this pod that the queen chose from the Boggans, and they need to ensure it blooms in the moonlight. But it really doesn’t have to do with anything, I was expecting the pod to bloom into the new queen or something. I guess it worked out, and the queen ending up choosing a girl who idolized her to be the next heir, I just wish the pod had more relevance.
I really enjoyed this movie, and so did the entire audience in the theater. It was funny, charming, suspenseful, beautiful and everything I could’ve wanted a film like this to be. Although nothing particularly profound, there were sentimental moments and wise words of wisdom placed throughout, taking the children’s movie into a film a whole family could enjoy. But family or not, there’s something you’ll take away from Epic. There’s no need to rush to see it in theaters, but you should eventually see it!