Directed by Chris Wedge
Running Time 102 minutes
Starring: Amanda Seyfried, Colin Farrell, Beyonce Knowles, Christoph Waltz, Chris O’Dowd and Steven Tyler.
(Movie House City-side preview 12/05/2013)
WHEN your film’s called Epic, there’s clearly going to be some viewer expectation for your feature to deliver something special onscreen. While the final product is a solid enough animated movie it never reaches the levels of the DreamWorks Animations recently released prehistoric comedy The Croods. But there’s more than enough going on onscreen to adequately keep younger viewers happily entertained throughout its runtime.
Based on William Joyce’s children novel The Leaf Men and the Brave Good Bugs, the movie is directed by Chris Wedge, his earlier directorial efforts have included the first Ice Age movie and the 2005 animated feature Robots. It features a truly eclectic vocal cast, including Amanda Seyfried, Colin Farrell and Beyonce Knowles with Oscar-winning actor Christoph Waltz playing the film’s villain. Farrell’s fellow Irish countryman Chris O’Dowd and Aerosmith’s frontman Steven Tyler also feature.
The plot seems heavily inspired by the likes of Ferngully and Honey I Shrunk the Kids with the visuals clearly influenced by James Cameron’s Avatar. While visiting her estranged father after the recent death of her mother, teenage girl Mary Katherine (Amanda Seyfried) finds herself inadvertently miniaturised by the dying queen of the forest (Beyonce Knowles) and plunged deep into a battle within the forest between the forces of good and evil. In order to return home she must help the forest’s leaf men defeat the Boggans, led by Waltz’s villainous character Mandrake.
Along the way the young girl forms a close friendship with Josh Hutcherson’s character Nod, much like M.K. the rebellious leaf-man has also recently dealt with a death in his family. Although the issue of bereavement is raised, it’s never really explored. It felt like the writers didn’t have the confidence in discussing the subject in a family movie. Gabor Csupo’s 2007 feature Bridge to Terabithia dealt with the issue with much more confidence.
Everything within the film is all fine and run of the mill fantasy genre stuff with very little to criticise onscreen. Mary Katherine makes a strong central heroine with Waltz’s antagonist pure pantomime. The slug and snail duo, Mub and Grub voiced by O’Dowd and Pitbull’s get many of the film’s better laughs and give some welcome comic relief. Dog lovers will find it hard not to fall in love with Ozzie, M.K.’s adorable three-legged pug.
Everything is just so ordinary and nothing really stands out to make it a must-see movie. It will easily keep younger audience members entertained, but lacks the rewatchability factor that of many of Disney’s enduring classics. That said with a summer blockbuster season dominated by sequels and super hero movies it is nice to see a feature that all the family can enjoy together at the cinema.
Review by William McClean