When her mother dies Mary Katherine (Amanda Seyfried) goes to live with her father; a man obsessed with the idea that there are minuscule people living in, and protecting the forest. MK has little time for her father’s research but finds herself drawn into a battle between good and evil when she stumbles across the Queen of the forest (Beyoncé).
Based on a book by William Joyce – the author behind The Rise of the Guardians – the idea behind Epic is rather sweet, and there is always room for a film that reminds us of the importance of a balance in nature and the big cities. That said, Epic is not the huge film the title may lead you to expect.
Voice talent comes in the form of Colin Farrell, Beyoncé, Chris O’Dowd, Aziz Ansari and Christoph Waltz. Some actors fare better than others, with Chrisoph Waltz’s villain the highlight of the film, although that is probably not surprising. Beyonce has a good voice, but struggles with some of the emotion, Farrell has been given a dry and surprisingly sombre character – and it is hard to tell that whether the use of Farrell’s native Irish accent was a cute reference to how twee we all are here, or that we are still connected with the earth. Possibly neither – and Ansari and O’Dowd start off as some great comic relief but quickly grate.
The visuals are beautiful, as we have come to expect from animated films. The forest is lush and verdant, and the contrast between this and the decaying lair of the villain is wonderful. The look of the characters is also great – although things like hair and feathers do not move like they should – with Waltz’s villain again, being a stand out. Sadly, the beauty of the film is only skin deep and, as well as some ineffective 3D, the film suffers from an uninspiring story.
The idea behind the film is a great one, but it does not translate from page to screen. Once the audience gets beyond the novelties of the film – birds used as steeds, the rings of a tree telling the past and future, and the look of the villains and heroes – there is not anything new or original about Epic. While Rise of the Guardians took our expectations and turned them on their heads, Epic follows a predictable and familiar story and it is easy to make comparisons with Fern Gully and, weirdly, Avatar.
In all, Epic looks beautiful but patchy acting, redundant 3D and an uninspiring story mean that this epic ends up feeling rather small.