Monday, February 10, 2014


Directed by Chris Wedge.
2013. Rated PG, 102 minutes.
Steven Tyler
Blake Anderson
Jim Conroy
John DiMaggio

For the first time in quite a while, Mary Katherine (Seyfried), MK for short, visits her father Professor Bomba (Sudeikis). Her mom has passed away so she understandably wants to spend some time bonding with dad. Unfortunately, dad is totally pre-occupied with his work. For years, he's been trying to prove the existence of an advanced civilization of tiny people located somewhere in the forest around his house. He believes them to be the engine of the ecosystem. He is actually right. We know this because we meet Ronin (Farrell) and his misguided ward Nod (Hutcherson), two Leaf Men, or soldiers, tasked with defending Queen Tara from their rivals, the evil Boggins. Today is when she must choose the pod that will continue to make things grow in the event of her death. The Boggins are after her because they want nothing more than rot and decay. Of course, MK thinks her father nuts. Tired of him neglecting her, she storms out into the woods and bada-boom, bada-bing, she is shrank down to about two inches tall and finds herself in the middle of the war in the forest.

Much of our focus is on the adventure to save the chosen pod, as well as the fish out of water aspects of the tale. Both bring a nice balance of action and comedy that keeps things moving along nicely. Though the jokes are on the obvious side, they work well enough. The action fares better. It is certainly close to what we think of when we hear the word swashbuckling. Just imagine what action scenes in Robin Hood might look like if we replaced horses with birds. There are also some very cool visuals employed during this. the scene where a bunch of bad guys come bursting from beneath the bark of a tree is an amazing sight. Visually, as a whole, the movie works quite well. Lots of flowers and other things you would find in the forest are rendered as somewhat humanoid beings. The scenery is occasionally a bit off as it appears the animators weren't always sure what should look photo-realistic and what should not. Still, it's definitely not enough to be a problem.

Less successfully handled are the emotional aspect of things. The relationship between MK and her dad works okay, but nothing happens that even the kids won't see coming. The same goes for the love story between MK and Nod. It hits every note precisely when we expect it to. More disappointing than either of those story lines is that the movie makes a big deal early on that MK's mom has died and so has Nod's dad yet does nothing with these facts. It approaches them as if there is some exploration of the matter about to take place. Instead, it's merely a ploy to give our lovebirds something in common. Again, none of these are major demerits. They are small dings in the armor that younger viewers will likely ignore, but start to pile up on us old folks.

What the youngsters won't ignore is all the hero/villain stuff. At this, Epic succeeds. The message of it is all a bit heavy-handed, but easy to root for. A lush, green forest is full of life while a gray and brown one is not. They will also like the lovably goofy Nod. Juxtaposed with him is the straight-laced Ronin. More than liking him, he's the one character we actually feel for. We understand he's got just a little bigger stake in the game than the rest. His nemesis Mandrake (Waltz) makes for a pretty good villain. He's properly dark and menacing and seems genuinely prepared to take over the world. The voicing of him by Waltz is very effective in getting this point across. Still, it's the good vs. evil angle that will carry the day for many of the kids watching. With a fairly sizable element of revenge factoring in on both sides we feel how personal things have become without anyone ever saying this explicitly. The other things fill out the movie and are solid enough to stand up and keep things enjoyable. I found it very entertaining and well done.

MY SCORE: 7/10


  1. I remember thinking that this movie, while very easy on the eyes, seemed (and I hate to use this word) boring. Almost as if the voice cast had better things to do.

    Reading your review, makes me think maybe I should revisit it. Well done!

    1. Thanks! My older daughter didn't enjoy it much because 13 year holds tend to hate everything, but my youngest and I had a good time with it.