Review: Epic / Cert: U / Director: Chris Wedge / Screenplay: Various / Starring: Amanda Seyfried, Josh Hutcherson, Christoph Walz / Release Date: October 7th
From Blue Sky Studios and the director of Ice Age comes Epic, a visually pleasing but mediocre animated adventure that suffers from a derivative story, a thin script, and a sub-par voice cast. Not only does Epic fail to reach the greatness of the studio's previous efforts, but it takes Blue Sky down a notch and raises questions about where it is going in terms of quality.
When Mary Katherine (Seyfried) visits her awkward, obsessive father in his house nestled in a quiet forest, the last thing she expects to happen is for her to shrink down to the size of a tiny forest person, called a Leafman, and help save the forest from certain destruction. But that's exactly what happens. She immediately becomes acquainted with Nod (Hutcherson), a defiant Leafman soldier who inevitably becomes her squeeze as events unfold. Soon, she's thrust into an ongoing conflict between the Leafmen and the Boggans, a race of tiny destructive creatures led by the sinister Mandrake (Waltz). M.K. must find a way to return to her normal size and save the Leafmen, but can she do both?
Amanda Seyfried leads a voice cast that, ultimately, fails to bring viewers into this world that the filmmakers are trying to make real for us. Her performance as Mary Katherine is frail, half-hearted, and dull, and viewers likely won't connect with her on any level. Josh Hutcherson doesn't do much better. He falls into all of the same traps that Seyfried does, but he does so with even less energy and soul. Christoph Waltz turns in the most impressive performance, presenting Mandrake as a powerful villain whose crazed plans make him unpredictable and dangerous. Waltz single-handedly holds up the rest of the cast, which is sad considering all of the incredible talent involved.
The film's biggest misstep is its unforgivable lack of emotion. So many of the events that transpire are sucked dry of any impact they might have had on viewers, and the filmmakers clearly make mindless action a priority over substance. The film's plot is ripe with opportunities to inject emotional resonance into the script, but director Chris Wedge and his team of brilliant animators and terrible storytellers decide to toss those opportunities out the window. The relationship between M.K and her father is a perfect example of a missed chance at good storytelling and character development. Their strained relationship becomes evident almost immediately, but it's not explored in a way that makes viewers care about its outcome.
The climax also leaves the viewer wanting so much more. Throughout the film, the filmmakers drop hints at an epic Leafman/Boggan confrontation, but all they end up giving us is a rushed, poorly executed finale that underwhelms and disappoints.
For all its visual splendour, Epic fails to complement its beautiful animation with solid storytelling. Ultimately, it's mildly enjoyable at its best and instantly forgettable at its worst, giving in to every cliché in the book and failing to offer anything new.
Extras: 5 Featurettes / Enhanced Colouring Book App Features