An Epic Delight – A review of Epic
Production Company: 20th Century Fox Animation
Run Time: 102 minutes
Director: Chris Wedge
Stars: Colin Farrell, Amanda Seyfried, Josh Hutcherson, Beyonce Knowles, Christoph Waltz
Summary: What could have easily deteriorated into an overly preachy story about saving the environment instead reveals itself to be a fun adventure about restoring balance and that even small acts can go a long way to saving a bigger world.
Today’s animated movies bear an awesome responsibility. They have to entertain both children and adults without being over risqué or overly slapstick, all while keeping all age groups laughing and conveying an underlying message that all viewers can take to heart whether you’re 8 years old or 80.
This is a movie that manages to do just that. And it does it without becoming tree-huggingly preachy like most movies dealing with similar storylines have done.
Amanda Seyfried lends her voice to M.K. (Mary Katherine is her birth name, but she’s shortened it due the hustle and bustle of the life she’s chosen). After her mother dies, she goes to visit her dad, a biologist who uses technology to try to find the “little people” who help make the forest thrive. Even his daughter thinks he’s nuts until a freak accident shrinks her down in size and she meets the wee ones first hand.
At the heart of the tale is the underlying message that we all must do what we can to help the environment sustain itself, but the storyline we see is just plain fun. M.K. must help General Ronin (Colin Farrell), his son Nod (Josh Hutcherson) and the rest of the riders to keep a pod that bears the life of the forest safe from the forces of darkness and decay, led by Mandrake (Christoph Waltz). Oh, the tangled web that’s weaved.
Of course, along the way, there will be comic relief (supplied here by a duo of slow moving forest grubs that serve as pod guardians) and romance between Nod and M.K. Not everything here will have a typically fairy tale ending but then again, there’s always room for a sequel.
Ice Age director Chris Wedge (who hails from Binghamton, NY and graduated from Fayetteville-ManliusHigh School, near Syracuse, NY) has a good grasp on what works best when telling this type of tale. He knowing interjects the right amount of humor that will appeal to adults, while staying away from humor that might elicit uncomfortable conversations between parents and offspring.
And even in the darkest moments of the storyline, he keeps things light enough so that nightmares should be minimized. Yes, the forest shall have a bright future ahead, indeed.
This is a story anyone can watch. It’s similar to other storylines we’ve seen before like Ferngully, but unique enough too that it should be able to develop a fan base all its own. The voice talent is spot on. And even though the story meanders a little and even manages to be overly predictable at points, it’s still a fun way to spend an afternoon at the movies with the kids.
Epic is aptly named. It’s a movie that should manage to endear itself for years to come. I give it 4 out of 5 stars.