PLOT: When a rebellious teenage girl is magically shrunk down to the size of a leaf, she discovers a brand new world. Deep inside the forest are Leafmen who must fight an on-going battle of good against evil in order to keep their forest safe from the lecherous Boggans.
In the new family friendly animated adventure EPIC there is certainly a sense of déjà vu. From FERNGULLY to AVATAR to LOTR and so much more, familiarity abounds in this fantastical tale of good and evil. The good being a band of forest creatures called Leafmen who are fighting against to protect the beauty of the forest from the Boggans – creepy creepers who like to wear the skin of other animals occasionally. When a teenage girl named M.K. (Amanda Seyfried) finds herself magically shrunk to the size of these mythical creatures, she must help fight to protect a single blooming flower which will save the forest for everyone.
Say what you will, beauty abounds in EPIC. In the opening moments when we first meet M.K.’s wacky scientist father Professor Bomba (Jason Sudeikis), the world he surrounds himself in is marvelous indeed. He has made it his life’s work to discover the secret world too small to see with human eyes. The animation here is utterly beautiful with lifelike images of the overflowing green leaves and the wildlife that inhabits the forest where he lives. When the world of the Leafmen is revealed it is sometimes stunning to look upon. The 3D occasionally enhances this animated landscape, yet seems to lose its magic early on.
Like many an animated adventure, we are quickly introduced to the stock main characters. This includes the noble Leafman warrior Ronin (Colin Farrell), the cocky rebellious soldier Nod (Josh Hutcherson) and the beautiful keeper of the forest, Queen Tara (Beyoncé Knowles). Then you have the comic sidekicks, Grub the snail (Chris O’Dowd) and Mub the slug (Aziz Ansari) who for the most part steal the show. And let us not forget the main bad guy played by the current king of badass, Christoph Waltz as Mandrake. While most of the actors do well with what they are given, it is very difficult to feel for their plight when it comes to the poorly cast Beyoncé. The singer injects very little life into her reigning queen that it makes it a tad difficult to care all that much about her.
The thing about EPIC is that it isn’t really a bad film. The enthusiasm is there and some of the humor works quite well. The “slug factor” is especially funny due in part to the nature of what these creatures can do as well as the talented voices of O’Dowd and Ansari. The father-daughter relationship between M.K. and Bomba has moments of charm, especially when they inevitably grow throughout the adventure. Seyfried does a nice job her and makes for a likeable heroine. This is an animated movie that offers its target audience exactly what you’d think it would, yet it fails to really inspire any more than it absolutely has to. The elements are much too familiar to really resonate after the initial viewing.
In the end, EPIC just didn’t live up to its EPIC promise. Too much is borrowed and the script lacked the sort of emotional impact that it could have. This is your basic animated feature with ugly bad guys that are easy to vilify and nice and pretty stereotypes of the knights in shining armor. The animation is gorgeous and at times it raises above mediocrity, yet not enough to warrant spending more than the price of a rental. This woodland fairy tale is not nearly as EPIC as the title would suggest.