From the studio that brought you Ice Age and Rio franchise come an animated fantasy adventure feature film. Loosely adapted from a children book from William Joyce called The Leafmen and the Brave Good Bugs. The book itself reminds me of those beautifully illustrated Enid Blyton bed time stories book.
The question is, does Epic really live up to its name?
Set in a lush greens of a forrest, Epic told a story of one Mary Katherine – or MK (Amanda Seyfried). When her mother passed away, she was taken away from her life in the city, and reluctantly move to live with his loving but estranged father (Jason Sudekis) who is obsessed in making a discovery about little men living in the forrest. In an odd chain of events, MK life get a little more complicated when she stumble upon the dying guardian of the Forrest Queen Tara (Beyoncé Knowles), and entrusted with a magic lotus pod that will ensure the sustainability of the forrest.
Of course, things couldn’t be just that simple. Enters the evil mastermind, the destroyer of peace, Mandrake (Christopher Waltz), the meleficent king of nasty creature called Boggans (who i assume. live in bogs? XD). Accompanied by the brave leader of the leafmen troops, Ronin (Colin Farrell), a young warrior Nod (Josh Hutcherson), and a comical slug, Mub (Azis Ansari) and snail, Grub (Chris O’Dowd). The group seeks the wisdom of the elder glowworm Nim Galuu (Steven Tyler), and race against time to resurrect the forrest from the nasty threat of Mandrake.
Epic is a spectacular work of design. I can just pick up detailed works that goes into designing each of the character and the landscape throughout the movie. It has beautiful color palette of dominant green with bursts of colors to represent the good side that includes the plants, the animals, the Queen, and her flock of guardians Leafmen. The bad side is represented in dark and murky greys, black, and blues. The design of Leafmen armors borrow the lines from Japanese samurai armor. The mouse hide and animal bones and exteriors that become the Boggans armor is very nice! And their weapon that allows them to turn lush foliage and healthy barks into a disease ridden plants (which actually reminds me of my traumatizing semester learning plants pathology *shudders*). I love Queen Tara’s coutureesque petals and leaves dress but sort of pissed because of her hair that looks rather messy, throughout her scene i can not help but wonder why the designer did not give her a headdress or a different hair do. Okay i’m rambling…
Despite the captivating spectacle on screen, i could not help but feel detached from the film. The material can be epic i’m sure, but the as it unfolds whole story feel shallow and lack of character depth. The effort to made the movie truly epic falls short when they choose to create action sequence rather than embodying the real spirit of the story. There are unresolved points that left as is instead of being elaborated into the story line better. To make matters worse, i don’t think these selection of voice actors and actresses are the best for the movie (although i appreciate Farrell’s Irish brogue but that’s purely for a personal reason). None really fuse well in embodying the characters. (And to be honest i kept thinking how awesome it would be if they have casted Tyra Banks as Queen Tara instead). Maybe i just expect something more from William Joyce previously known from Rise of The Guardians (2011) and Academy Award Best Animated Short winner The Fantastic Flying Books of Mr Morris Lessmore (2011). I think it lost all the whimsy of the original material that supposed to made it special, instead making it purely extravagant without real panache.
In an interview with USA Today, Wedge mention that despite the film is based on Joyce’s The Leaf Men and the Brave Good Bugs, and it borrows many characters from the book, its plot has been significantly changed. Wedge explained: “But while Bill wrote a wonderful book, it is a quaint story. We wanted to make a gigantic action-adventure movie.” He also said: “I hate to associate it with other movies. It is adventure on the scale of Star Wars. And it does immerse the audience completely in a world like Avatar. But it has its own personality.” Oh god, how can anyone compared this movie to Avatar is beyooooond me! I’m sure this is my personal bias talking. (Though I’m sure people are appalled to by his description of how it compares to the scale of Star Wars).
So there you have it, a beautiful spectacle of a well designed animated feature that falls short in the story and characterization. I don’t know how it will fare for younger audience though. Catch this movie if you like beautifully designed visuals, but you won’t regret it if you missed it though. After all, i’ve known my stance on this movie when i found the pre-movie trailer (Despicable Me 2!) to be more interesting instead :)