Click to Skip Ad
Closing in...
Michael Moore Says Clint Eastwood Threatened To "Kill" Him 10 Years Ago, Calls 'American Sniper' A "Mess" Michael Moore Says Clint Eastwood Threatened To "Kill" Him 10 Years Ago, Calls 'American Sniper' A "Mess" Woody Allen’s Next Movie With Joaquin Phoenix & Emma Stone Titled ‘Irrational Man,’  Sony Pictures Classics Nab Rights Woody Allen’s Next Movie With Joaquin Phoenix & Emma Stone Titled ‘Irrational Man,’ Sony Pictures Classics Nab Rights Paul Thomas Anderson Says 'Edge Of Tomorrow' Is "F*cking Great," Also Loves 'Grand Budapest Hotel'  Paul Thomas Anderson Says 'Edge Of Tomorrow' Is "F*cking Great," Also Loves 'Grand Budapest Hotel' 10 Unaired TV Pilots By A-List Directors That We Want To See 10 Unaired TV Pilots By A-List Directors That We Want To See The 10 Best Films Of 2007 The 10 Best Films Of 2007 'Kick-Ass' Creator Mark Millar Says A Hit-Girl Solo Movie Was Once In The Works With 'The Raid' Director Gareth Evans 'Kick-Ass' Creator Mark Millar Says A Hit-Girl Solo Movie Was Once In The Works With 'The Raid' Director Gareth Evans Kristen Wiig, Melissa McCarthy, Kate McKinnon & Leslie Jones To Lead Paul Feig's 'Ghostbusters' Reboot Kristen Wiig, Melissa McCarthy, Kate McKinnon & Leslie Jones To Lead Paul Feig's 'Ghostbusters' Reboot 30 Films You Forgot Were Oscar Winners 30 Films You Forgot Were Oscar Winners Watch: Tom Hardy & Gary Oldman Face Off In The First Trailer For Thriller ‘Child 44’ Watch: Tom Hardy & Gary Oldman Face Off In The First Trailer For Thriller ‘Child 44’ Review: Documentary 'Night Will Fall' Is A Powerful Reminder Of The Horrors Of The Holocaust Review: Documentary 'Night Will Fall' Is A Powerful Reminder Of The Horrors Of The Holocaust Harvey Weinstein Explains What Happened With 'Grace Of Monaco,' Says He Was Right About 'Snowpiercer' Harvey Weinstein Explains What Happened With 'Grace Of Monaco,' Says He Was Right About 'Snowpiercer' Harvey Weinstein Says Quentin Tarantino Has Changed The Last Chapter Of 'The Hateful Eight' Harvey Weinstein Says Quentin Tarantino Has Changed The Last Chapter Of 'The Hateful Eight' Sundance Review: ‘Slow West’ Starring Michael Fassbender, Kodi Smit-McPhee & Ben Mendelsohn Sundance Review: ‘Slow West’ Starring Michael Fassbender, Kodi Smit-McPhee & Ben Mendelsohn Watch: 8-Minute Video Essay Argues Steve McQueen's 'Shame' Is Actually A Critique Of The Modern Metropolis Watch: 8-Minute Video Essay Argues Steve McQueen's 'Shame' Is Actually A Critique Of The Modern Metropolis Watch: The Tampon Scene From 'Fifty Shades Of Grey' You Won't See In The Movie Recreated With 'The Sims' Watch: The Tampon Scene From 'Fifty Shades Of Grey' You Won't See In The Movie Recreated With 'The Sims' "Carry Bolt Cutters Everywhere": Werner Herzog Has 24 Amazing Pieces Of Advice "Carry Bolt Cutters Everywhere": Werner Herzog Has 24 Amazing Pieces Of Advice The 25 Best Horror Films Of The 21st Century So Far The 25 Best Horror Films Of The 21st Century So Far The 20 Best TV Shows Of The 2013/2014 Season The 20 Best TV Shows Of The 2013/2014 Season From Worst To Best: Ranking The Films Of Hayao Miyazaki From Worst To Best: Ranking The Films Of Hayao Miyazaki Christopher Nolan Says His Howard Hughes Film Is Dead, But He'd Still Like To Do A Bond Film At Some Point Christopher Nolan Says His Howard Hughes Film Is Dead, But He'd Still Like To Do A Bond Film At Some Point

Review: Visual Grandeur Of ‘Epic’ Undone By Undercooked, Rote Story

The Playlist By Mark Zhuravsky | The Playlist May 24, 2013 at 9:05AM

Let’s get one thing out of the way: “Epic,” the latest from Blue Sky Studios (the “Ice Age” films, “Robots” “Horton Hears a Who” and “Rio”) is at times breathtakingly beautiful. The Chris Wedge-helmed feature presents a visual step-up for Blue Sky and we are luckier for it. The film features a rich and compelling vision of a forest populated by a variety of tiny creatures and protected by the Leafmen.
0
Epic
Let’s get one thing out of the way: “Epic,” the latest from Blue Sky Studios (the “Ice Age” films, “Robots” “Horton Hears a Who” and “Rio”) is at times breathtakingly beautiful. The Chris Wedge-helmed feature presents a visual step-up for Blue Sky and we are luckier for it. The film features a rich and compelling vision of a forest populated by a variety of tiny creatures and protected by the Leafmen. 

Leafmen, who most closely resemble tiny humans, don weapons and travel by hummingbird, are locked in combat with the Boggans, led by Mandrake (Christoph Waltz, enjoying himself despite lacking motivation or really any memorable lines). When the Queen of the Forest (Beyoncé Knowles) is threatened during a ceremony to name her successor, Leafmen leader Ronin (Colin Farrell, toned down and all the better for it) crosses paths with M.K. (Amanda Seyfried) and the duo must deliver a flower bulb to a legendary location and…save the forest. Along for the ride is Nod (Josh Hutcherson), a fast-talking rebellious young warrior who rejects the discipline of the Leafmen but respects surrogate father Ronin. 

Epic

M.K. is our protagonist, a teenage girl sent to live with her distant scientist father (Jason Sudeikis), incidentally obsessed with the miniature civilization he believes is teeming right under our very eyes. It’s a familiar concept in a familiar film but “Epic” remains uplifted by the intricacy of design – an opening aerial chase is a high-speed thrill and the first forty five minutes do a fine job of establishing the dynamics and dynamism of the forest and it’s many inhabitants. The craftsmanship of the water and the foliage is a exemplary and moments of small-scale epic action are staged with grandeur and imagination. 

So what keeps “Epic” from standing shoulder to shoulder with Pixar’s finest? As you might have guessed from the lackluster advertising, it’s the story that’s the letdown, with a read-it-and-weep five screenwriters pitching in to help tell a tale “inspired by” William Joyce's book, "The Leaf Men and the Brave Good Bugs." Joyce is credited among the writers, while the resulting film is seemingly ticking off the necessary components to corner the kid quadrant – take a panoply of celebrity voices, throw in two oblivious yet useful comedy sidekicks (Chris O’Dowd and Aziz Ansari), a relatable protagonist with unshakable humanistic convictions, a morally sound heroic older male, a handsome love interest who’s bound to learn a lesson and a villain whose very appearance makes a case for his deviousness. 

Epic

It’s especially regretful since the film tackles all these elements but fails to unearth any inspiration or even major laughs. Mandrake is seemingly motivated to turn the forest into a rotten wasteland by the death of someone close to him, but we don’t spend nearly enough time with the big baddy to flesh him out in the slightest. Waltz’s memorable cadence is ever-present but the lines he’s fed have all the staying power of a leaf in the wind. There’s a message of individuality married to community loyalty that’s embodied by the Leafmen and an eco-friendly undercurrent but the film commits to both of these more in wordless moments of graphical superiority.

"Epic” lacks many of the trademark elements that have come to define Blue Sky offerings – this is hardly a bad thing, since much of the slapstick poised to attract younger children made for significantly less entertaining films. That Chris Wedge and co. take a more mature approach to this film should be lauded but alas, despite several moments of thoughtful, quiet near-bliss and well-crafted action beats, the overall product is underwhelming. Visuals aside, the film's title belies a story that’s anything but. [C+]

This article is related to: Epic, Reviews, Review


The Playlist

The obsessives' guide to contemporary cinema via film discussion, news, reviews, features, nostalgia, movie music, soundtracks, DVDs and more.


E-Mail Updates