By Mark Saldana
Rating: 2.5 (Out of 4 Stars)
What happens when filmmakers take a creative and imaginative fictional world, but do not do anything creative or imaginative with it? Well, an example of that result is a sometimes entertaining, but mediocre movie titled Epic. Loosely based on William Joyce’s book, The Leaf Men and the Brave Good Bugs, director Chris Wedge (Ice Age), his screenwriters, cast and crew produce a visually beautiful computer animated film that has likable characters and descent humor, but also has a contrived rehash of a story that will probably go over well with the kids, but probably won’t impress the adults much.
In the forests of the world exists the miniscule leaf people who serve as guardians of all plant life. Their foes come in the form of destructive insect life who strive rot everything in their path. The human Professor Bomba (Jason Sudeikis) has been obsessed with discovering the truth behind the leaf people since he was a child. After his estranged daughter Mary Katherine (Amanda Seyfried) moves in, his wishes may come true. While wandering in the forest near her father’s house, M.K. discovers the leaf Queen Tara (Beyonce Knowles) and her guardian Ronin (Colin Farrell), leader of the warriors who fight to protect the Queen and the forest from the evil Boggans led by Mandrake (Christoph Waltz) and his son Dagda (Blake Anderson).
Written by James Hart, William Joyce, Daniel Shere, Tom J. Astle, Matt Ember and Chris Wedge, Epic is not a total waste of time, but leaves much to be desired creatively. The story could be labeled as a distant cousin of Ferngully and Avatar, but not nearly as entertaining or thrilling as those movies. This probably won’t matter much to the younger kids wanting to see the film, but as for teens or adults, the lack of originality will leave them flat. In addition to this, the humor in the movie won’t always appeal to the grownups. I found myself quiet and unamused during several of the jokes and gags. The film has its moments, but not quite enough for a full priced ticket recommendation. The excellent voice cast does help somewhat, though. It’s a shame that the filmmakers fail to give them sufficient humor and quality writing to utilize their talents well.
In addition to the cast members mentioned above, the film also features the voice work of Josh Hutcherson (Leafman Nod), Aziz Ansari (Mub), Chris O’Dowd (Grub), Pitbull (Bufo), Steven Tyler (Nim Galuu), and Judah Friedlander (Larry). This amazing cast does their best and is a joy to hear, especially when the humor does work. The film does have the cast and their joyfully colorful characters going for it, but certainly lacks the writing to use these characters in thoroughly fun and exciting ways.
I’m sure it will be difficult for parents to persuade their children not to go see this film in theaters, especially if they beg. My advice is to wait until the film can be rented or viewed on pay television. If one has an HD TV with a Blu-Ray player, the film will look gorgeous for the kids and will keep them entertained. Besides, it’s easier for grownups to walk away from the TV than it is to exit a theater.