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I wanted to love Epic, I really did. It''s everything I, as a big child and nature geek, should adore. The trailers made me want to see it, so much so that when I saw it sitting on the shelf at Morrisons I had to have it. I was excited about watching it, and sat throughout the movie willing myself to enjoy it. The film itself was okay, and I loved the attention to detail the animators paid to the creatures, but the story itself felt a little lazy. Maybe the issue is the fact I''m an adult watching a film directed at children, but the children I watched it with (aged 6 and 12) got bored of trying to enjoy the film before I did. They didn''t really care about what happened to MK, and while they loved the action sequences soon got bored of them too. For me I just struggled to get into the story - the graphics were amazing, the voice acting decent, and even the plot was okay but for some reason it just didn''t come together to make the amazing film I wanted it to be. There were characters I enjoyed coming onto the screen, such as Mub and Grub, but as for Ronin, MK and the young heart throb of the piece whose name escapes me? Eh. I cared more about MK''s father and Ozzy than I did about her. With any other plot the graphics that enchanted me would have made me love this film, but as it stands it was just a nice average story which is wonderful for filling time on a rainy Sunday when you have exhausted every other option but still have a pile of children needing something to do, but otherwise it''s not going to get much in the way of replay.
From Blue Sky Studios (creators of Rio and Ice Age) comes Epic, a fascinating tale inside the world of the forest and all its inhabitants. Whilst the trailer reminds me deeply of Studio Ghibli's 'Arrietty', 'Epic' brings is an original and visually stunning movie.
When Mary Katherine (MK)'s mother dies, she moves in with her mad scientist father, Professor Bomba, who lives by the forest, researching little Leafmen he believes exist all around them. As it is near time for the Queen of the forest, Tara, to pick an heir from a bed of buds, Bomba is incredibly busy trying to track the Leafmen, neglecting MK.
The evil within the forest, the Boggans, launch an attack on the Leafmen, preventing the spawn of a forest heir. Just as MK has had enough and decides to leave, she discovers the Leafmen and mysteriously shrinks to their size, witnessing the death of the queen. With the forest in the midst of war, MK must follow the queen's dying instructions to protect the chosen bud and do what she must to make it spawn.
The first thing to notice is how beautifully the forest is treated and the wonderful details of the trees and flowers. The world that is created is immersive and wonderful. What's more, the transformation of these organisms to living beings is to praise, producing natural and original characters that are cute and likeable. Many times throughout the movie, we go 'wow' at the way the environment looks and reacts.
Also, as the two sides represent good and evil, the visuals for each are also polarising and in that way, offer a thematic and visual distinction between the two, one dark and deathly, the other green and full of life.
Plot wise, it follows a generally linear direction with a few offshoots and detours which give the story a greater complexity. Several times, I wondered how the movie would progress. This added depth works well in this mysterious world where things are not as they seem.
The relationships and characters are also well developed, with some relatable dynamics that will appeal to most viewers. Father son, father daughter, lovers, friends... everyone is included!
As the story reaches a climax, there is a peak of adrenaline and action in a conclusive and thrilling sequence, followed by an appropriate and pacy resolve. The ending was sweet but not too cheesy.
Colin Farrell- Ronin
Josh Hutcherson - Nod
Beyonce Knowles- Queen Tara
Jason Sudeikis- Bomba
Amanda Seyfried- Mary Katherine
As I didn't really like Ice Age and Rio, I was skeptical about how good this movie would be given who made it, but it was definitely worth the watch. The beautiful and original settings, with likeable characters, matched with a strong plot and diverse relationship themes make this my personal favourite animation of the Summer, over Disney Pixar's Monster's University.
For children and adults alike- GO SEE THIS MOVIE!
Have you seen Ferngully? It's an animated children's film about a man who gets shrunk to a tiny size and then joins forces with little people living in a forest to ward off the bad people trying to cut down the forest. Simultaneously some adventure and an ecological message, it's an okay film that my 9 year old really enjoyed when he was about 4.
Epic was billed as the new era in animated feature films. Blue Sky Studios, the third company along with Pixar and Dreamworks to dominate Western animated films (not including anime which is in my view superior), come to the fight armed with some amazing animation but a story that has certainly been told before. Based loosely on William Joyce's The Leaf Men and the Brave Good Bugs and with Ice Age's director at the helm, it did a decent job of providing an already explored genre, shrinking city girl come home to stay with dad in the countryside after mum dies, finds little people living in the forest, and now their size joins their fight against the bad little people to save their forest's life spirit.
It's an okay tale: nothing more and nothing less. The voice acting is decent enough although nothing to write home about, and the action is kept at a constant pace to ensure there's no boredom setting in despite some clear messages trying to push their way to the fore. I thought that the fun element was maintained well, with some quirky humour being injected alongside some genuine tension. The villains are portrayed particularly effectively, even if the hero is a stereotypical young stud with equal amounts of gumption and hopelessness as he hopes to become part of the little leaf people army. The battle hardened general is his mentor, of course, and is therefore harder on him than the others, and the newly shrunk 'human' heroine takes the inevitable shine to him.
There are a couple of small surprises along the way, but in general the film really is pretty average. Where it shines though is in its animation, and I suppose here the word 'epic' really is appropriate. Intricate when scrutinised, there is an infinite amount of green in this film, and it seems to be a bit of a trait of BSS that they focus on singular colours. The way they created brilliance in Ice Age with blues and whites was beautiful, and the green shades here are equally as impressive. Take away the plot and look at the animation and this really is a phenomenally 'drawn' presentation. They should take a bow.
Danny Elfman's considerable talents ensure the musical elements of the film also contribute to what is essentially a successful film. Its plot notwithstanding, the originality of the film is impressive and the visuals stunning. The fact that it has basically been done before and is a sort of cross between Fern Gully and Avatar is likely to not only draw some criticism but also put people off when reviews are read. I wouldn't be put off, nor would I expect genius. This is an okay film with beautifully done animation, action and sound. Likeable characters and easy to watch, I'd recommend it but not as anything special.
We watched Epic on the inbound journey from Turkey with Thomas Cook, I was initially surprised to see it as an in flight movie as it had only been released in May this year. A quick search shows however it can be purchased for £10 from Amazon including free delivery.
It was directed by Chris Wedge and produced by blue sky Studios. Described as a computer animated fantasy adventure comedy drama. The voices used for this animation include
MK - Amanda Seyfried,
Nod - Josh Hutcherson,
Ronin -Colin Farrell,
Mandrake - Christoph Waltz,
Mub - Aziz Ansari,
Grub - Chris O'Dowd, Pitbull,
Professor Bomba - Jason Sudeikis,
Nim Galuu -Steven Tyler,
Queen Tara - Beyoncé Knowles,
It lasted 102 minutes and is available in 2d and 3d unfortunately we saw this on a tiny plane screen therefore despite the graphics looking very good, it wasn't as spectacular had we seen it on our own television. The animation shows fantastic scenes of the forest and the characters / voices are of a high quality. It is apparently based loosely on "The leaf men and the brave good bugs" by William Joyce.
MK (Mary Katherine) goes to live with her dad, who separated years before from her mother due to being an eccentric scientist / researcher. It quickly becomes obvious that he is still totally obsessed with finding the little people who live in the forest, using his various gadgets, including cameras, goggles etc. He goes off when one of his "alarms" are alerted and MK goes to leave. The dog (a rather fat 3 legged creature named Ozzie) runs off and MK follows to catch him and is caught up in the leaf peoples world, when she meets Queen Tara. This leads to MK's adventure unfolding...
Amazon rate this movie as a 4 out of 5 but I am struggling to give a 3 as it was fairly unexciting animation, despite the great graphics. It never really took off and my children also felt that it was a fairly uninspiring movie. Unfortunately I am not going to recommend this movie and score it a 3 purely for graphics which I suspect would be quite clever in 3d (however clearly I haven't seen them).
~Film Review Only~
Cast: Amanda Seyfried, Colin Farrell, Josh Hutcherson, Beyoncé Knowles
Genre: Animation, adventure, family
Run time: 102 mins
Release date: May 2013
A young girl moves back to the country to live with her dad, a quirky recluse who has spent his life in the pursuit of finding the elusive "Leaf men". Finding that her father has not changed and his attention still caught on the craziness of tiny people living in the forest, Mary Katherine (MK) decides this isn't working and plans to leave.
All the while in the forest around their home a battle is continually waging between the Leaf men who work for the Queen of the Forest and the Boggins, a race of grey-skinned creatures who prefer the dark decay of rot than the bright green of life.
For every area they infect and wither of the forest, the Queen, the spirit of the forest revives thus protecting all that live there.
Now the queen must venture from her sanctuary at the heart of the forest to choose an heir.
These two worlds collide and suddenly the cynical MK finds herself not only coming into contact with these tiny people but through their magic being shrunk down until she is part of their world. Now starts an adventure to protect the forest and get her back home.
Visually this movie is stunning, then again we have seen with each year the animation experts stepping up their game with every new feature and while films like Toy Story are still incredible to watch, you can see the lack of detail they possess when held up against the newer films coming out.
The animators really did an excellent job, the landscapes they covered were a stunning forest both as we would see it and then on a close-up, more detailed level for the tiny people. So suddenly things like insects, leaves and stones had to be given close attention.
There was also MK's father's house, which was full of papers, computers and collected items so again the detail given over to make it more (for want of a better word) 'full' really was impressive.
Everything down to the feathers on a scruffy bird were given great detail.
The movie was very action filled with leaf men (little warriors) riding hummingbirds and battling the terrible boggins who rode crows and bats. This gave a quick pace and lots of movement to the film, especially through trees and grasses that gave the viewers another look at the world these animators had created.
The plot moved pretty well, keeping a good pace with only a few small lulls.
Again, this was good and seemed to fit nicely with the movie. The only issues I had were the accents, a few of the character's didn't feel they matched their accents, the main culprit being Ronan voiced by Colin Farrell it just didn't seem to fit for me.
There were parts that felt strained like when MK, an ardent cynic against such fanciful notions of tiny people living in the forest, is suddenly shrunk to their size and meets them all, we have a few "no no no! What's happened?" lines and then she seems to recover pretty well and is happy enough to join in the adventure with barely a passing thought to how crazy it all appears or if this shrinkage is even permanent!
I found Amanda Seyfried did a good job with the character MK, though at times the character got quite annoying for me. Ronin voiced by Colin Farrell was good except as mentioned above with the accent issue. Beyonce Knowles voiced Queen Tara and this worked perfectly giving her character a nice strength.
One good surprise was hearing the Irish twang of Chris O'Dowd (Roy from IT Crowd) voicing Grub a determined slug who was part of this adventure... strange but amusing.
I didn't think the music worked very well for this movie and whenever it came on it seemed to detract from the overall experience. To me it felt they were trying too hard and it was a little too "modern" for what they were trying to pull off.
I think the biggest issue for me in this movie was the premise. If I can revert to another movie from years ago that seems to be what all these types of movies attempt to follow - Ferngully. Not the best movie, a little too "fairy-like" at times but it had a strong premise - that being that deforestation was destroying the forest. They then added to that, a dark evil that had been trapped forever in a dead tree was now released by the machines causing the deforestation. This evil then possesses the bulldozers and thus continues to rampage unchecked. As well as a good film, it has a nice moral strength that children can get behind regarding destruction of nature and the part humans play.
This movie however had the villains as creatures who liked decay and rot. So technically the good guys were fighting against decay and rot - an extremely natural and necessary part of nature. While there is the idea that the boggins were breaking the balance by rotting and decaying everything with their power it still felt like it was giving out the wrong message especially to small children.
Another point on that were the animals that worked with or where used by the boggins, bats, crows etc - these animals were seen as negative and dark. I am not one for building on these kinds of stereotypes about certain animals. Such creatures already get a bad press without adding to that in kids movies.
Overall not a bad movie, just not that great especially as I think there is a mixed message here that could be taken on by children regarding nature.
I promised my son before the half term holiday that we would go to the cinema as we hadn't been for quite a while. Immediately he asked to watch Epic as it seemed it had been being shown on adverts for quite some time before release and I have to admit I thought it looked quite good from the previews that I had seen too. It was released in the Cinema on the 23rd of May and we went to see it on the 28th May at Odeon at the Printworks in Manchester. This is my review of the film.
With a title such as Epic I think it is fair to assume that you are going to be getting quite a movie. Coupled with the fact that this movie comes from the creators of Ice Age and Rio and I had high hopes for the movie and was looking forward to seeing it as much as my son was.
The story focusses on a teenager named Mary Katherine, or MK for short, who has to go to live in the countryside with her rather eccentric seeming Father who she confides to a cab driver is basically a stranger to her. It is made clear that MK's mother has died and she really has been forced to head to the country side to stay with her Father and that she isn't very happy about it. Worse though is that her Father is so preoccupied with a tiny world he is convinced exists in the forest that he seems to have no time at all to speak to MK and settle her in and so as she feels so rejected she decides to leave. Before she can leave though the family dog Ozzy runs out of the door and in to the forest and she has to follow to try and get him back. Unknowingly she is sucked in to the tiny world which does exist in the forest and her role there is now of vital importance as she must try and help the protectors, the leafmen, protect a tiny bud which holds Queen Tara's powers and is the only way to stop the forest from being destroyed by the evil Boggans.
Visually I have to say that this movie was pretty stunning from the off. The human characters appeared life like and realistic and I liked how the family dog was old and now on three legs as it was a nice change to see something not so perfect in a film! When it came to the characters in the forest some of them were quite human like such as the leafmen and the Queen but others were basically nature and things found in the forest such as dandelions, flowers and creatures such as slugs and snails. Queen Tara really was a beautiful graceful character and I felt the fact she was voiced by Beyonce really suited her. The colours on the screen were magnificent and drew you in and although we saw it in 2D I did wonder how different it would have looked in 3D.
Whilst I was really impressed with the visuals when it came to this movie I was sadly not taken with the story. It seemed quite long winded and dare I say it boring. Almost as though it was done for the money as opposed to being done because it is going to be a brilliant film. I love animated films and having my son means I get to watch lots of them and it is safe to say some of my favourite films are animated such as Despicable Me and the reason behind this is the great stories they have that really kept your interest. This story seemed quite tame and even when there were battles going on, or the Queen was under threat it just seemed to be going through the motions and I felt quite bored. I know my friend and her daughter actually walked out of the film half way through and whilst my son and I didn't leave we didn't come out saying what a brilliant film like I was expecting. There are some big names involved in this film including Beyonce, Colin Farrell and Josh Hutcherson and so I would expect there to be a bit more about the film that would really grip you. I can't really fault the perfomance of Beyonce in particular though who did seem to present the Queen Tara in a really elegant, grand way.
The best part of the film was probably the comedy relationship between the pods protectors who were a slug and a snail. The snail was aspiring to be a leafman whilst the slug was simply aspiring to be the love of MK's life. I particularly liked how Nod, the rebel leafman who MK was closest to had to have various arguments with the slug when he felt he was getting too close to MK. There are a few laugh out loud moments within the film surrounding these characters which was nice in what was otherwise a pretty serious feeling children's film. I did like how through MK's experience in the forest she was able to develop a really lovely relationship with her father and be able to show him that he wasn't a weirdo after all which was what a lot of people, herself included, probably thought because of his fascination with a world he didn't really have proof existed. I did also like how MK could keep up contact with her new friends because of her Father's research and inventions which was quite sweet.
Whilst I appreciate this was quite a visually stunning movie that isn't the reason I wanted to go and see it. I wanted to see an adventure which would grip both my son and I because let's face it an eight year old isn't really going to appreciate the visuals in a way an adult would. Whilst my son sat and watched the movie without becoming restless when it finished he simply said "Well that was ok" and I think that sums it up for me too. It was just ok and in all honesty I personally wish we had waited for the DVD instead of going to the cinema to see it.
Thank you for reading my review!
Epic is an animated adventure which was produced by 20th Century Fox, and Blue Sky Animations, the people who brought us films such as Ice Age and Rio. The film had been advertised heavily in trailers at other films we had been to see with the kids, but had also featured heavily on merchandise with McDonalds kids meals, so it was unsurprising that my children were aware of this film, and wanted to see it.
The plot is a simple one - there is a battle going on in the forest between good forces (The Leaf men) and evil forces (The Boggans) to maintain life in the forest. The Leaf Men led by Queen Tara are a life force to the forest, whereas the Boggans turn everything they touch rotten.
The Boggans have a plan to turn all the forest into wasteland. To do so they plan an attack on Queen Tara as she chooses a new pod to pass onto the next Queen of the forest. The film follows this battle between good and evil, with some room in the 102 minute run time for some fun along the way.
We join unlikely heroine Mary Katherine - or MK (Amanda Seyfried) as she returns to live with her father after the death of her mother. The pair have a poor relationship as her dad has dedicated his life to his scientific research trying to prove the existence of this race of people living amongst the trees. It's not that he is a bad person, he is just obsessed with finding evidence to support his life's work, which leaves not enough time to deal with his daughter.
On a particularly stormy night in the forest (caused by the battling little people) MK stumbles across Queen Tara. She is entrusted with posession of the pod which has the knowledge to retain life in the forest, and she is entrusted to transport it to Nim Galuu. There is a slight complication as she is shrunk to the small size of the Leaf men, so she is not used to finding it so difficult to move round the forest. She has to learn how to fly by Hummingbird like the other tree people.
They are an unlikely group who try to transport the pod to safety. Firstly, there is head Leaf Man Ronin (Colin Farrell) who is your typical maverick hero who thinks he can do it all himself. I'm thinking of characters like Bryan Mills from Taken, who take out so many of the bad guys that it stops being believable. There is then a younger wannabe leaf man called Nod (Josh Hutcherson) who again is a bit stereotypical as the guy who wants to be a little different, but is basically a good guy who will do the right thing via a few sticky situations which he will learn from.
A lot of the comedy moments for me come from the two molluscs who accompany them on this journey to keep the Pod safe. Mub the Slug, and Grub the Snail who is a wannabe leaf man provide some great lines and visual gags throughout the film. One of my funniest moments was when Mub believed that he was a serious contender to be a romantic interest for MK. The insults that he said towards Nod were really quite childish, but that did not stop a movie theatre full of adults laughing at it. I also loved the fact that Grub believed no-one could see him if he went inside his shell.
This film did have some enjoyable moments, but I did find it quite a hard film to sit through - it was quite long for a kids animation, and we were all very fidgetty by the end of it. I found that some of the animation looked fabulous, such as seeing the Boggans who all wear animal skins and move around like these animals (mice, rats, bats) and seeing the flight scenes, and the magical effect that Queen Tara has on the wildlife around her. Some of the flower people also looked very realistic - the animators had managed to make these have characteristics of the plants as well as the more human features, so there were some excellent panning shots where you mistook these people for ordinary flowers when first seen.
It was the animation of the people (Leaf men and humans) that I found a bit harder to watch. Some animations it is hard to forget it is not a film of people you are watching, but here the features of the characters are that little bit exaggerated such as MK's button nose and it felt a bit 'off' watching it, like you know its a cartoon and its harder to get engrossed in.
All the characters were quite likeable if a bit predictable. Although I found the plot quite interesting, I felt it definitely could benefit from an edit and making it a bit shorter for the children who are really the audience for this film. I didn't enjoy it anywhere near as much as the other animations we have seen with the kids such as Madagascar 3, Ice Age 4, and Rise of the Guardians. It just didn't feel dramatic enough to make you care and the humour was there but less obvious for the kids. I also felt that in other films, the soundtrack really helps you enjoy the film, but here, it fit the film, but I didn't find it that spectacular or memorable.
Overall, its the sort of film that we may watch again, but I didn't walk out of the cinema thinking it was 'epic' or I would want to buy it when it came out on DVD. It was just an ok experience, perhaps better for being on the big screen than a small TV screen. Although my children were ok with it, I did feel as well it was quite dark at times, and there are themes like death and evil that might be quite scary for some small children. I don't think its quite as suitable for young kids as it first seems especially if the children are quite sensitive.