‘Epic’ Review

Published 2 years ago by , Updated November 15th, 2014 at 12:38 am,

epic movie seyfried ansari Epic Review

The by-the-numbers kid’s movie elements (which includes an unnecessary romance subplot) prevents Epic from completely living up to its name.

Epic takes place in the heart of the forest, where the universal war between the forces of good/evil, life/death and light/darkness unfolds on the smallest of scales. That task of guarding and protecting the woods falls to the Leaf Men, an army of tiny human soldiers that are tiny enough to be able to ride hummingbirds and leap about like grasshoppers. On the opposite side are the Boggens, a nasty race of similar pint-sized creatures that drain the life-force from anything they touch.

The enthusiastic and eccentric Professor Bomba (voice of Jason Sudeikis) has spent years studying the forest’s miniature inhabitants – in an effort to prove their existence – which ended up costing him his career and, eventually, his marriage. Bomba’s estranged 17-year old daughter, Mary Katherine (Amanda Seyfried), who goes by M.K., comes to stay with her wayward dad, not so long after her mother passed away. While M.K. is initially dismissive of her father’s crackpot theories, a chance encounter with one of the forest’s mystical inhabitants whisks her away on the most (here it comes…) epic adventure that she never expected.

epic seyfried sudeikis Epic Review

Professor Bomba (Jason Sudeikis) and M.K. (Amanda Seyfried)

Epic is the new 3D animated movie from Blue Sky Studios (Ice Age), and is loosely based on the children’s book “The Leaf Men and the Brave Good Bugs” by award-winning filmmaker and author William Joyce (he also wrote the novel that inspired Rise of the Guardians). The trailers have made Epic seem rather similar to the (Famous? Infamous?) traditionally-animated environmental parable, Ferngully: The Last Rainforest; while the pair share story qualities and character archetypes (on a surface level), the fantasy story imagined by Joyce is a much more subtle – and elegant – allegory about the importance of faith, tolerance and how all forms of life (even those we cannot fully comprehend) are interconnected.

These themes are presented in a way that’s digestible for kids (while adults will get the deeper meaning), with fantasy explanations; like, how the Leaf Men, Boggans, and other minuscule creatures operate in a different time dimension – hence, they appear to move ultra-fast to comparatively humongous animals like humans (a.k.a “Stompers”). Problem is, whenever Epic has a chance to dig deep into these ideas – or allow for moments of genuine poignancy – it usually chooses to move on, in order to fill in all the boxes on the standard kid’s movie checklist. Nonetheless, the core of the story’s meaning comes through strong enough to make this a solid film for the whole family.

epic trailer Epic Review

Ronin (Colin Farrell), M.K. (Amanda Seyfried) and Nod (Josh Hutcherson)

Joyce co-wrote the Epic screen story and script (pun!) with the film’s director Chris Wedge (Ice Age), James V. Hart (Hook), Daniel Shere (We Are Family), Tom J. Astle and Matt Ember (Get Smart). The overarching narrative, admittedly, tends to hit all the beats you would predict, but it’s also well-constructed and offers enough in the way of proper setup/payoffs to generate (some) emotional impact. It’s still a notch below the best storytelling examples from rival computer-animation studios Pixar and DreamWorks, but Epic shows real growth from Blue Sky (especially given how they’ve churned out so many stale Ice Age sequels in recent years).

Seyfried and Sudeikis prove to be solid voice actor choices for M.K. and her dad, as is Josh Hutcherson for the young and cocky Leaf Men warrior Nod. However, it may take a moment to adjust to Colin Farrell’s (not so) American voice coming from the hardened Leaf Men leader Ronin – Nod’s paternal-figure - and Beyoncé Knowles voicing the kind and playful Queen Tara (basically, the Queen of the forest); all in all, though, their voice work is fine. Unfortunately, Aziz Ansari and Chris O’Dowd as Mub (a slug) and Grub (a snail) never rise above being generic comic relief – even though both characters are essential to the plot – and mostly exist to make kids in the audience laugh (no more, no less).

epic ferrell Epic Review

Christoph Waltz as the Boggan leader, Mandrake, lends his customary voice to the proceedings – a mix of whimsy and sinister tones – and the character is largely just the personification of evil; though, in a (pleasant) surprise twist, the film does take a moment to establish Mandrake’s relationship with his son, Dagda (Blake Anderson) and gives him an ounce of humanity. Lastly, the two bizarre voice actor choices are Pitbull as a mob boss-like toad and Aerosmith’s Steven Tyler as a quirky sage-like caterpillar. The former musician’s character is (thankfully) not on-screen for long, while the latter sort of works but also feels out of place (especially during his short, impromptu musical number).

The animation in Epic is neither as expressive nor tangible as it could’ve been, but it is otherwise satisfactory enough and gives a glowering storybook quality to the visuals. What proves to be far more impressive are the film’s action sequences, which take advantage of the tiny characters’ POV. Epic is worth the increased ticket price for a 3D upgrade, since the film takes viewers along for a ride with the Leaf Men, as they fly upon birds – through the dense forestry and over cascading streams of water that (from their perspective) appear like waterfalls – and encounter “giant” animals, be it a burrowing mouse or deer prancing through the woods.

epic trailer amanda seyfried Epic Review

Indeed, that appreciation for the beauty of the world – and life in its various forms – complements the thematic core of Epic, and helps to make the film stronger. As mentioned before, the by-the-numbers kid’s movie elements (which includes an unnecessary romance subplot) prevents Epic from completely living up to its name (sorry, had to say it); nonetheless, it’s still worth a recommendation.

If you’re still on the fence about Epic, check out the trailer below:


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Epic is 102 minutes long and Rated PG for mild action, some scary images and brief rude language. Now playing in theaters around the U.S.

Our Rating:

3.5 out of 5
(Very Good)

Follow Sandy Schaefer on Twitter @feynmanguy
TAGS: Epic
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  1. Looks like I’ll be taking my little sister to watch this, haha. Nice review guys!


  2. Nice to know it’s a decent movie. I’m actually interested in seeing it :)

  3. I’ll watch this… later when it hits bluray XD







  5. I hate that you make a long intro, i always have to skip a few paragraphs to read the actual review.

    • There are plenty of sites with 1 paragraph reviews. I like the extended reviews myself.

    • Well I always thought it was there for the people who know absolutely nothing about the film but want to know the basic premise as well as how good it is. For me, not having kept up with news on Epic, it gave me a pretty good idea as to the type of story – which is just as important, because it lets me sort of gauge whether it fits within my tastes.

      If it were, say, Man of Steel then yeah, I’d skip it because I already know enough about it, but I think those introductions are pretty useful to have, and easy to skip past if you don’t need it.

  6. While watching Fast 6 today a mom with five or boys under the age of eight comes into the theater. The kids immediately start talking loudly and being, well, kids. I’m thinking to myself,”Who brings kids to see Fast 6?” Anyway, trailers start and its everything from White House Down to Pacific Rim to Red 2. During the trailers I hear her complain about how they’re too violent. Then it hits me. Suddenly the movie starts and she FINALLY realizes that they are watching Fast 6. Only problem is that they were supposed to be watching Epic.

    • Mom must have been an LAUSD student.

  7. Just got back with my 4 year old daughter. It was a wonderful movie, classic light vs. dark narrative with some dark yet humorous scenes. I personally enjoyed the father/daughter subplot. My little one has been watching trailers online for almost a year now waiting for it to come out and she of course loved it.

  8. so….. it’s ANTZ with people, and other ‘creatures’, and two slugs. Cool

  9. Pretty good movie all around, me and my girlfriend both reviewed it on our blog. If you wanna check it out the link is below. Either way I had fun with it and thought it was a solid Blue Sky film.


    • Trey,

      A link to your review in OUR review is crossing the line into spam linking as far as we’re concerned, bro.



      • Oh ok, i will not to that. Feel free to delete the comment

      • and suddenly there’s a Vic sighting!

  10. Seems i’m in the minority of people who seriously disliked the film.

  11. I enjoyed the film up until the final battle which I felt was a huge letdown. I mean, seriously, they could’ve had a grand, Lord-of-the-Rings style battle which took full advantage of the amazing and inventive visuals. What do we get instead? A crowd of blurs and batwings which make it impossible to see what’s actually going on in the battle.

    Not to mention, I felt a lot of the character arcs like Ronin’s and Nod’s weren’t resolved very well.

  12. I’m surprised it got scored so high cause I saw the trailer when I went to see IM3 and it’s been subsequently shown on TV since then in shortened form and my first and continuing thought was/is “this movie is trying too hard”.

    It didn’t seem to know whether it wanted to be a semi-serious animated movie or a silly comedy because of the serious themes of nature in peril that were interrupted by jokes that just weren’t very funny.

    Seems like the actual movie is a little more balanced than the trailers made it appear but I honestly wonder why some movies do really well despite negative reviews (and vice versa) when one look at the trailer will let you know whether you’d enjoy it or not.

  13. I think you meant “complements” instead of “compliments” in the conclusion.

  14. Pretty good review, but I must seriously disagree with the Steven Tyler assesment. I actually wanted to see more of him. At first glance you would probably think why would he be playing the wise old man of the forrest, but since the movie mentions several times thru several different characters that hes really more of an old hippie who has just been around a long time and has read a lot, I thought it worked. I was also a lot higher on the Grub and Mub characters while yes they are the comic relief they are very good at it. Aziz Ansari was hilarious with his infatuation for MK and trying to back off any competition. Chris O’Dowd was also quite good at making and underdog everyone could pull for. Everyone cheered at the end when he got his chance to be a leaf man. I put it just behind the Croods for the story although I had a much higher opinion of that movie as well. The Croods was the best animatied film to come out since Toy Story 2 in my opinion and given Im a father of 5 who has seen them all I feel I have a good history to base an opinion on.

  15. Great movie. Watched it multiple times and loved it more each time. I really liked the whole father daughter relationship and how it changed. Perfect balence of humor and action. Every one should see this movie.