Reviewed by Sam Robinson
Rated PG. Starring the voices of Colin Farrell, Josh Hutcherson, Amanda Seyfried.
It takes guts to release a film in 2013 and name it Epic. Because if you don’t pull it off, critics will undoubtedly dub it Epic Fail.
But while the latest animated film from Blue Sky Studios (Ice Age, Rio) isn’t quite an epic fail, it does fall short on many accounts.
Epic opens with an unsettled young girl Mary-Katherine (Seyfried), moving to her father’s place following the death of her mother. As she discovers, her father is a crazy scientist, convinced there is a world of little insect-sized people living in the surrounding forest. And there is.
Mary-Katherine stumbles across the world’s dying Queen (Beyoncé) and gets shrunk down to the same size. She eventually teams up with tiny soldiers named Leafmen, and heads on a quest to save the tiny world from the evil Boggans who desire to rule the land all for themselves. In case you were wondering, Boggans are pale-faced creatures who like to wear dead animal skulls and rat-skin capes. Creeeeepy.
Epic does a lot of things well. The computer animation is captivating and you do become convinced that this tiny world does exist. The voice cast is well picked and star-class (Aziz Ansari’s Mub the slug is a clone of his Parks and Recreation role of hapless ladies-man Tom Haverford). However, the biggest effort is put into developing this miniature world and the visuals, rather than the script.
Being a 90s kid, I was really hoping that Epic would include some musical numbers, just like Disney used to do. Seeing that Beyonce was one of the voices led me to crave that even more, but all we got was one short number from a glowworm (Steven Tyler). Then, as the credits rolled, out came the Beyonce tune! Missed opportunity.
Speaking of the 90s, the film all too much reminded me of two films from that era – Fern Gully and Honey, I Shrunk the Kids. From the former, there’s the miniature world in the forest; and the latter, a crazy scientist father and the shrinking of a human unbeknownst to anyone else. So from watching this and being reminded of those films, Epic just seemed to be a poor imitation.
Now I admit that I’m not the target audience for a film like this. But so many other animated flicks these days attempt to please both adults and kids in the characters, the humour, the music. Epic seems solely for kids, and laughs are rare.
The tiny world of people is somewhat similar to the one we live in. There’s the battle of good and evil going on. In fact the Boggan are particularly scary for a kids flick – similar to the weird chills you get watching Hades and his posse in Disney’s Hercules. The leader Mandrake is hoping to grow a ‘prince of darkness’ and reign supreme over all the land.
This reminded me of what the Bible says about the ‘prince of the power of the air’ – Satan. At the cross Jesus has won the victory but Satan is still scheming to tempt our sinful hearts away from Jesus. So there’s still a struggle going on. Paul writes in Ephesians 6:11-13 –
Put on the full armour of God, so that you can take your stand against the devil’s schemes. For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms. Therefore put on the full armour of God, so that when the day of evil comes, you may be able to stand your ground, and after you have done everything, to stand.
There’s a big battle against evil raging in Epic, and until Jesus returns to judge this world, there’s a constant struggle for us too. Satan is attempting to grasp at whatever he can to bring people away from God. But Jesus gives us what we need to stand – that’s the big command there – in Jesus, his promises to us, and his magnificent salvation won at the cross we have the victory.
I’m giving Epic two-and-a-half out of five stars.
Epic is available now on DVD and Blu-Ray on Quickflix.