Conceptually, ‘Epic’ isn’t anything new. In fact, it’s been compared to ‘Fern Gully’ and ‘Alice in Wonderland’, and I’d even add ‘Avatar’ to the list (the flying on birds aspect seemed very ‘familiar’). It has a visual impact from a mere surface viewpoint, but digging deeper presents us with a film that is less ‘epic’ than I expected.
I personally find it baffling that they would use such a title to describe this film. The word epic carries such a connotation, such a weight with it. People use it to describe something larger than life, something on a grand and opus scale. When you use that word to describe your film (in something as direct as the title) you lead the audience to expect something more than most films can live up to. It was an ill-advised move, and then again I’m struggling to come up with an alternate name that would have influenced ticket buyers.
‘Save the Pod!’
The basic theme running through ‘Epic’ is that of environmental awareness, except there is nothing tying the doomed environment to human mistakes and so it strips us of any real awareness. The bad guys are not human beings but rather these strange amphibian looking bug things called Boggans. These Boggans are led by the evil Mandrake who wants to destroy the forest but has been unable to because of Queen Tara and her mystical healing powers. She is the Queen of the forest and has been able to balance out Mandrake’s disease spreading ways. Mandrake then decides to kill off the Queen before she can chose an heir, but his plan doesn’t exactly go smoothly and he only gets it half right. On the human side of things you have M.K., a young girl who just lost a mother and is forced to go live with her father who is a crazy man in the woods convinced of the little people in the trees and so he has cameras everywhere trying to get a glimpse of them. M.K. obviously thinks her dad is crazy until Queen Tara shrinks her and gives her the heir to take care of; that heir being a pod that needs to bloom that very night.
This film is fine (my kids loved it), but for what it promises I’m extremely letdown. The visual aspect of the film (especially in 3D) is nice, but there is a lack of dreamlike serenity here. Everything is so obvious and almost plain. The tiny little worlds are just so unimpressive. Yes, the use of flowers and nature to create the alternate world is pretty neat, but everything looks and feels so anticlimactic, so uneventful. From a purely thematic point of view, it misses the point by giving mankind no responsibility, and it loses major points from borrowing flagrantly from every other ‘shrinking human movie’. They even have a wise-old caterpillar!
The love story is expected and generic, the crazy dad is a total cliché (why are all smart people anti-social and awkward) and the message is lost in the delivery. Beyonce is as annoying in cartoon land as she is in real life, but at least Aziz Ansari and Chris O’Dowd are funny and offer up some joy in this otherwise mediocre offering.
|Look at me; I'm crazy!!!|
I give this a C-. Like I said, it wasn't bad and yet it wasn't anything special either. I much preferred 'The Croods' to this, but sadly this has a much better chance at an Oscar nomination than the former. Because of the slick visuals and the assumed creative nature (and that awesome one-legged dog), 'Epic' should have an easy shot at a filler nomination in the Animated Film category.