When MK moves back to live with her wayward scientist father, she finds that he is still obsessed with finding the “little people” who live in the forest. MK pleas with her father to stop searching. She doesn’t even consider that he may be right… Review of Epic after the jump.
Upon moving back into her father’s (voiced by Jason Sudeikis) house after the death of her mother, Mary Katherine, or MK (voiced by Amanda Seyfried) discovers that he is still obsessed with finding the little people that he believes live in the forest. For years he has searched for them, monitoring the forest with a network of cameras and combing the undergrowth for clues of their existence. MK can’t handle living with this again and is about to pack up and leave, when the unimaginable happens. While searching for the family dog in the forest, MK reaches to catch something falling from the sky, and when she catches it she becomes small…very small. It turns out her father was right. There is a whole world of creatures and small people in the forest, and they are in need of her help. They are fighting time and the evil Boggans creatures who seek to fill the forest with darkness. The fate of the forest lies within the petals of one unopened flower bud, which MK must protect to ensure it fulfills its very important destiny.
Epic is based on the 1996 novel The Leaf Men and the Brave Good Bugs by William Joyce, and despite it’s rather grandiose title, the film is anything but. It’s a paint-by-numbers story with an environmental angle, reminiscent of Avatar, FernGully or any of a number of forest-based children’s adventures. Epic ticks all the fairy tale boxes – a feisty yet relatable protagonist, a handsome male character living in the shadow of a more successful father, an evil character with a hideous laugh and a Mother Earth type character. There are even a couple of bumbling idiots who seem stupid but are actually rather smart. The players are all here, but they aren’t doing anything new. We’ve seen this story before and there is nothing engaging about either their antics or personality. The only characters the children in the audience seemed to connect with was the slug and snail pair, who provided the majority of the [sparse] laughs with their slapstick humour.
What Epic has going for it is the visuals. The world created here is lush, vibrant and very much alive. The colours jump off the screen and the forest is presented as a truly enchanting place. The action set-pieces, particularly the flight sequences, are the most impressive aspects of the film. Waves of Boggans launching an attack on the Leaf Men reminded me of the waves of Orcs who surge in attack in the Lord of the Rings trilogy. These impressive action scenes transport you to the center of the magical world, with the surprisingly decent 3D serving to enhance the experience. The voice cast is also good, with Christoph Waltz unsurprisingly the stand-out as the villain.
Epic is indeed familiar but younger cinema-goers probably won’t mind. The beautiful forest , engaging action set-pieces and the silly slug and snail pair should be enough to entertain most.
By Sam McCosh
Director: Chris Wedge
Starring: Colin Farrell, Josh Hutcherson, Beyoncé Knowles, Amanda Seyfried, Christoph Waltz
Runtime: 102 minutes
Release date(s): USA: May 24 2013; Australia: June 27 2013; New Zealand: July 11 2013