Epic is the combination of two stories, a magical race of leafmen that have to defend their kingdom against the encroaching rot and a daughter who is trying to connect with her estranged father after her mother dies. Thanks to forest magic, they become one in the same. Mary Katherine or MK as she prefers, voiced by Amanda Seyfried, is frustrated by her father Professor Bomba, voiced by Jason Sudeikis, obsession with the seemingly imaginary race in the forest until the queen gives MK a flower pod to protect and shrinks her down so she can work with the leafmen.
It’s a decent enough concept that we’ve seen before and it’s handled well. What really helps is the excellent voice cast they’ve assembled. It was strange to see Colin Farrell, who plays the leader of the leafmen Ronin, in a fun family movie, especially after his recent string of films. Josh Hutcherson does a fine job as MK’s love interest and the goofball leafman who has to get his act together in the face of danger. I found Beyonce, who played the queen of the forest, to do a fine job, but was a bit baffled as to why such a big name was cast in such a small part.
Perhaps the best casting was of the main antagonist and the comic relief characters. Christoph Waltz has been excellent in everything he is cast in and he makes a great villain in Epic as Mandrake, leader of the boggans and the bringer of the rot. Aziz Ansari and Chris O’Dowd (of The I.T. Crowd and Bridesmaids) play Mub and Grub, a slug and snail respectively who are responsible for the care of the pod until it blooms. I was worried when I first heard their voices, I’m all for the comedic characters, but I feared they would just be typecasted into their popular characters. Thankfully they managed to make Mub and Grub characters in their own right while still bringing the comedy we have come to expect from Ansari and O’Dowd.
I did enjoy Epic and there is enjoyment to be had, easily the weakest point of the film is MK and Bomba. You would think that two decades filled with films like The Dark Crystal, Princess Mononoke and Nausicaa of the Valley of the Wind would have proven that there is an audience for these epic tales that are still geared towards children. The human element, at least here, only served to weaken the story. Instead of being focused 100% on the threat of the boggans, we have to care about getting MK back to normal size so she can reunite with her father whom she now knows is not insane. It left the movie feeling too similar to other stranger in a strange place stories.
Epic is a return to the children’s epic stories that I have missed. All we’ve received lately is either remakes or adaptations of existing properties. While the father/daughter dynamic did work, I felt that it hindered what could have been a much better story. Regardless, Epic is the perfect film to take the family to. It’s a lighthearted adventure through an interesting world with a few laughs on the way. Isn’t that exactly what you want out of a kid’s movie? If you’re looking for something that everyone can fully enjoy, you’ll probably have to look elsewhere.
In Theaters: May 24, 2013
Runtime: 102 min
Rating: PG mild action, some scary images and brief rude language.
Director: Chris Wedge
Cast: Colin Farrell, Josh Hutcherson, Beyoncé Knowles, Amanda Seyfried and Christoph Waltz
Genre: Adventure, Family
Distributor: 20th Century Fox
Official Site: http://www.epicthemovie.com/