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1 review, 4 user ratings

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by Jay Seaver

"Lives halfway up to its title, and the kids should like it."
4 stars

It's a bit surprising to see a movie called "Epic" come from Blue Sky Studios and its founder Chris Wedge; of all the studios making animated features today, they are the one whose style is most based on kid-friendly cartooning; how will they mix with a story that promises more grandeur and danger? And while this is still something of a light adventure, this group is so good at putting things on screen that it's always a feast for the eyes,

There are two scales to the world, it posits. At the human scale, Mary Katherine (voice of Amanda Seyfried) is coming to live with her estranged father after her mother's death. At a much smaller scale, the Leaf People are locked in a battle for the fate of the forest with the Boggins. Today, when the summer solstice coincides with the full moon, Queen Tara (voice of Beyoncé Knowles) can choose an heir, though her chief guardian Ronin (voice of Colin Farrell) warns of an attack. It comes, and since M.K. was in the the woods, she winds up shrunk down to Leaf Person size, and will have to help Ronin and young hot-shot Nod (voice of Josh Hutcherson) keep the pod safe from the Boggins' king Mandrake (voice of Christoph Waltz).

Say this for Blue Sky: They make absolutely beautiful movies, and Epic is no exception to this rule. While some of the human faces sometimes seem to lack some of the detail given to everything else, they're expressive enough, and they're dropped into an amazingly detailed world - it's a sheer joy to just look at the leaf-based clothing and armor the Leaf People and Boggins have, especially the ones that are based on specific flowers or insects. The environments are similarly elaborate, and animals like mice and hummingbirds look nifty from that scale.

The action isn't bad, either. Wedge and his five co-writers (including William Joyce, who wrote the original book) favor grand-scale battles, with dozens-to-hundreds of Leaf Riders and Boggins clashing from atop their birds and bats. The flying stuff especially looks great in 3D, although the scenes where it's just Ronin and, say, Mandrake clashing with swords are well-done too. It's thoroughly PG-rated action, of course; kids won't be treated to Boggins being hacked apart or Leaf People bleeding out or anything like that, but kids will find it exciting and the grown-ups will at least be impressed by how well it's put together.

The level of intensity is something I wonder about - all of the main characters have lost someone, and in the case of M.K. and Ronin, it's pretty fresh, as opposed to being safely far enough in the past to just be part of the backstory, enough that it seems a bit odd to have Ronin cracking wise so soon after. Even Ozzie, M.K.'s and her father's dog, is in pretty rough shape, what with the three legs and bad eye and all. Like the action, it's not too much for kids, but it's a little odd to have this much tragedy underpinning the story and not have it be more central. And in some ways, it underpins how much the movie doesn't really need M.K. and her father - why things to the real world so explicitly, especially if the environmental message of the film is going to be one vague comment at the start.

Her not being necessary doesn't mean M.K. isn't a fun character; as much as Amanda Seyfried has to repeat some bland/obligatory lines, she gives M.K. an entertaining, impish nature. Josh Hutcherson plays the familiar sort-of-rebellious young Leaf Rider well enough, but the fun one is Colin Farrell's older general, who is amusingly confident as a the movie's tough guy who can back it up. It's fun to listen to Beyoncé Knowles flirt with him, as well. And, of course, it's tough to top Christoph Waltz as the villain of the piece, all smooth malevolence.

It comes together well-enough, a visually-exciting adventure that parents should have few qualms about showing their kids, with a couple of fun voices to boot. "Epic" is a bit of a stretch, perhaps - it needs to be a little bigger or more original to quite deserve that title - but it's good fun nevertheless.

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originally posted: 05/28/13 09:14:37
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User Comments

3/23/15 Jerry Spray I fell asleep watching this animated movie from hell. "Epic", indeed! 1 stars
8/24/13 Charles Tatum Exciting, beautiful to look at, and imaginatively detailed 4 stars
6/16/13 Lauren I thought it was a very good story for the family 4 stars
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  24-May-2013 (PG)
  DVD: 20-Aug-2013

  22-May-2013 (U)

  DVD: 20-Aug-2013

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