Ferngully Epic is a new film from Blue Sky Studios (Rio, Robots, Ice Age) about Mary Katherine (Amanda Seyfried), who goes to live with her eccentric father (Jason Sudeikis) after her mother dies. Unfortunately, he has little time or focus for her, due to his obsession with finding a microscopic society that exists in the surrounding forests. Just as she is giving up hope, she is suddenly sucked into the tiny world full of Leafmen, Boggans, and a multitude of other sentient creatures. She quickly discovers that this “world within a world” is in the middle of a raging battle between the forces of Life and the forces of Decay. Together with Nod (Josh Hutcherson), Ronin (Colin Farrell), and Queen Tara (Beyonce), Mary Katherine has to help restore balance to the forest and find a way back to her own sized world.
The plot of Epic follows the familiar guidelines of many other family movies, where our protagonist is taken to an unfamiliar world and forced to be its savior. While the pace of the film trots along quite quickly, it’s painfully thin and easily predicted. Since there have been many films like Epic before, most moviegoers will know exactly what they’re going to see before it’s shown. The plot boils down to the main characters frantically running from one place to the next, with only a single goal in mind. Usually, a family film’s plot is redeemed by being heartfelt, funny, or well written. Unfortunately, the humor in Epic is primarily slapstick, the movie isn’t heartfelt, and the dialogue is nothing to get excited about. Sadly, there’s so little that is unique about Epic‘s story, that I think most people will forget most of it by the time they reach their cars.
The voice acting in Epic was, for the most part, well done. The core cast (Amanda Seyfried, Colin Farrell, Josh Hutcherson, Christopher Waltz, Beyonce) did a fine job of putting emotion and life into the characters, but the overall quality was dropped slightly by some of the supporting roles. Pitbull and Steven Tyler both had a noticeably hard time making their characters into anything more than animated figures. Also, the character of Mub, played by Aziz Ansari, was just Aziz Ansari in slug form. I’m not sure if the role was written for him or if they just happened to cast it that way, but I can’t say that it made the movie any better. His character was desperately trying to make the audience laugh through the entire film. While some of the humor was amusing, most of it was tiring.
The one thing Epic really had going for it was the animation. The characters themselves were beautifully animated, but the most impressive aspect is the world that they have created for Epic. Even though it is just a large-scale forest, the way that they add lighting and colors makes it seem as alien as Mars. When you combine this animation and cinematography with 3D, it makes for a fascinating film to see. I’ll admit, the 3D wasn’t used as well as most movies these days, but Epic had enough sense to keep the 3D gags to a minimum. The audience, children in particular, will be enthralled by what they’re seeing, but I don’t think that warrants the cost of the ticket.
During my time writing reviews, I’ve seen quite a few family movies. Recently, there have been more and more movies of this genre that have surprised me. Whether they have had great scripts, stories, or humor, the “Family Movie” genre has been changing into something that every member of the family could actually enjoy. Then, you have the unfortunately titled, Epic. Epic has taken a step back towards the old days, where the only people having fun at a family movie were the kids. Not to say that kids shouldn’t have fun, but it doesn’t mean the rest of us have to twiddle our thumbs for an hour and forty-five minutes. Epic had potential to be a good film, but didn’t grow much beyond being something pretty to look at.
I give Epic 2.5 “Terrifying, Horrible Monsters” out of 5
By Blake Edwards