Wednesday 29 May 2013


(Chris Wedge, 2013)

Epic feels almost randomly generated. Taking a bunch of predictably appealing elements from various sources in its adaptation of a William Joyce book and applying the formula which has by this point come to absolutely dominate American Animated cinema, it succeeds in being utterly mediocre in more or less every regard.
A young girl (voiced by Amanda Seyfried), mourning the loss of her mother, comes to live in the country with her semi-estranged, work-obsessed father. His work involves attempting to prove that his theory - that the natural world is home to a society of miniature beings - is correct, and this gives him little time for parenting. Their reunion goes badly, and just as she is about to leave she is miniaturised and finds herself in that society of tiny beings, who, it turns out, ride upon birds, talk to insects and are at war with a race of lizard-like beings named Boggins. The Boggins spread decay while the Leafmen, led by Ronin (voiced by Colin Farrell) battle them mainly using the power of their Queen (Beyonce Knowles) who can spread and control plant life. So the girl becomes involved in their battle, and learns the ways of the Leafmen, in the process flirting with the cocky and irresponsible young warrior Nod (Josh Hutcherson), bantering with a stock comic relief slug and snail double act (Aziz Ansari and Chris O'Dowd) and - of course - coming to realise what is truly important in life. This is interspersed with a series of variable action set pieces involving aerial battles, fearsome field mice and generic martial arts, a few attempts at visual poetry (a ride upon the antlers of a deer), and some telegraphed messages about responsibility and family.
While it's never bad, it's never particularly good, either; too much of it seems familiar, too much of it formulaic. For all that the animation is brilliant, that really isn't enough anymore. Pixar and Studio Ghibli have set the bar far too high for animation in the last decade or two for something like Epic to be seen as anything more than solid.

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