HTS Moderator , Reviewer
HTS Overall Score:90
I was rather amused by Blue Sky’s latest production title. “Epic”, a movie that tries so hard to be so, and by tries I mean REALLY tries, but is set around such a “tiny” (excuse the pun) scale of a story. There seems to be a mix of several other films in here. Seeping out of its pores was a large quantity of “Fern Gully,” a bit of “The Secret of Nimh,” and even just a little bit of “Avatar.” It’s your basic environmental story at heart. The minions of good have to stave off the minions of destruction and rot to save the rainforest….err the forest. “Epic” tries so very, very hard to be an epic movie, but ends up falling short. The battle scenes are most certainly epic, and you can tell that there was a LOT of work put into them, but the story ends up just being a “good” story rather than an incredible adventure like the Pixar films that it so wants to be like. For a children’s animated film, it’s still quite fun, and I certainly had a good time watching it. Just don’t go in expecting the next “How to Train Your Dragon” or “Toy Story” and you’ll be well entertained.
It seems that there is a war going on. A war between the minions of good and the minions of rot and decay. The Queen of the Forest (Beyonce), is the guardian of all that is life in the forest. Her soldiers, the Leafmen, are her arms and ears, staving off the continual advances of Mandrake (Christoph Waltz) and his army of rot and destruction. These fairy like creatures have been warring like this for centuries and it doesn’t look like an end is in sight.
The human world doesn’t take much notice of this fight except for one scientist, who is obsessed with proving his theory that an advanced race of little people live out in the forest. He’s become so obsessed with his work that he’s lost his wife and almost lost his daughter Mary Katherine (Amanda Seyfried), or M.K. for short, in the process. M.K. happens to come live with her father for the summer and that’s where the whole balance of the forest shifts. Sheerly by accident, M.K. happens to stumble upon a fairy battle and witness the dying words of the Queen of the Forest. M.K. is shrunk to the size of the little folk and given the task of bringing a sacred pod, which holds the life of the forest and will bring about the new queen, to Nim Galou (Stephen Tyler) in the center of the forest. For her guardians, she is given Ronin (Colin Farrell), the leader of the Leafmen, and Nod, a happy go lucky ex-Leafman with a penchant for not being a team player. Not only must they get the pod to Nim Galou so it can blossom under the full moon, but they have to avoid Mandrake’s forces of darkness along the way.
Things go surprisingly well; they’re able to get around Mandrake’s forces, get to Nim Galou, and all with the pod intact. As you can guess, that’s when things go awry. Mandrake has been lying in wait and snags the pod for himself. This means that Nod, Ronin and M.K. have to go and stage a rescue attemp, right into the heart of Mandrake and his forces of evil in order to save the forest and hopefully return M.K. to her own world.
Based off of a childrens book, “Epic” is a bit stereotypical. It’s got a “play by the numbers” type of feel to it, going from one plot point to the next with predictability. That doesn’t mean that it’s a bad movie by any means though, just decidedly middle of the road. The story is fun with some great characters (Colin Farrell’s portrayal of Ronin was surprisingly reigned in from his normal over the top acting) and Amanda Seyfried did a great job of making M.K. a sweet and likeable character. The usual sidekicks were present in the form of a duo of slugs that were surprisingly lackluster. Easily the worst characters in the movieb they reminded me very much of the Moose in “Brother Bear” in terms of just being filler characters that didn’t even survive with humor. Christoph Waltz really stole the show as the villain Mandrake. His voice just oozes class every time he opens his mouth and here is no exception. Slick, evil, and semi-sophisticated Mandrake is every bit the creepy villain that Disney could put forth.
The art itself was beautifully done, though, and the battle scenes had a lot of work put into them. I haven’t seen such fluid animation for a long time, and the battle scenes had an amazing amount of choreography put into them. I just wish some of that work had gone into the screenplay to make it a bit less clichéd. A fun movie, “Epic” tries very very hard to become more than what it is, with some fancy choreography and stunning visuals, but it seems that some of the script was just a bit too pedestrian to really draw it up above the competition. Being as spoiled as we have become in the animated world of films, this would have been a solid contender for children’s animated films back in the day, but with the bar being raised so high by Pixar and Dreamworks, it’s hard to compete unless you’re bringing your A game to the table these days.
Rated PG for mild action, some scary images and brief rude language
[img]http://www.hometheatershack.com/gallery/file.php?n=12544[/img]Being that this is from Blue Sky studios (the same company that created the stunning visuals for the Ice Age series), it’s no surprise that the picture quality for “Epic” is absolutely stunning. Given a 2.40:1 AVC scope encode, “Epic” pops on the screen with some of the richest colors that I’ve ever seen. All colors of the spectrum are replicated here, but the sheer amount of greens on the screen is just mind boggling, from the forest greens, to the leafmen’s uniforms and the bright blues and greens of the hummingbird steeds. Saturation is spot on and creates a rich and full picture that is beautiful to behold. Detail is through the roof, and there is no sign of jaggies or shifted animation flaws anywhere to be seen. Banding or other animation issues are nowhere to be seen, and that holds true even when freeze framing the movie to give a closer inspection. When under motion the picture is about as pristine and clean as you can get. The black levels are every bit as good as the rest, with inky blacks and fantastic shadow detail. I could rave and rave away about the image, but you get the picture, this is just one pretty looking film.
The 3D effects are quite stunning for “Epic” as well. There’s very little “pop in your face” gimmicky moments, but instead the film gives an added layer of depth and dimensionality to it. Colors are just as bright and colorful as the 2D version and the sharpness is on par as well. The film’s depth is quite well done, but luckily it’s left to layering animals and certain parts of the forest. With all the massive amounts of foliage it would get very tricky and very annoying to get every branch in the forest 3D effects. I noticed some minimal ghosting and crosstalk, but not a whole lot. Usually around indoor scenes and backdrop images. Overall a very nice 3D presentation and some great use of depth layering in the film
[img]http://www.hometheatershack.com/gallery/file.php?n=12545[/img]The audio is EVERY bit as good as the video encode. Given a 7.1 DTS-HD MA track, “Epic” explodes onto the scene with a bombastic audio track. Literally rippling with energy from every scene, it is still a well-crafted track that doesn’t devolve into just being a sonic explosion. The surrounds are used extensively, whether it be the high flying battle scenes with the sounds of carnage coming from all sides, or the simple sounds of the forest, a rain drop hitting the ground, the rustling of leaves or a footstep in a tunnel. LFE is deep and HEAVY. One thing I noticed about the LFE channel was the very tight feeling to the bass. Not only was there some heavy hitting LFE for the explosive battle scenes, but the score carried a nice low end as well and you could hear the different notes to the bass instead of a one note boom to it. Very clean and very musical. Dialogue is crisp and clean and balanced to the rest of the audio track, no need to raise and lower the volume at all. Another well done audio track to complement a picture perfect video track. Well done Fox.
• Birds, Bugs, and Slugs: Forest Explorer"
• Rot Rocks
• Bugs of Camouflage
• The Epic Life at 2 Inches
• Mysteries of Moonhaven Revealed
• Theatrical Trailer
• Sneak Peeks
“Epic” is, unfortunately, not as epic as it was hoping to be, but it is still a fun movie for the family and will keep kids entertained for certain. The recycled fare may seem a bit clichéd for some adults, but the stunning picture and audio quality will make this a demo disc for certain. Add to the fact that it’s got some solid 3D effects to it as well and you might consider this one a purchase. Either way, it’s a fun little rental that’s great for some eye candy or a solid enough story to keep you entertained for a few hours. I’d definitely give this one a rental.
Starring: Amanda Seyfried, Josh Hutcherson, Blake Anderson, Colin Farrell
Directed by: Chris Wedge
Written by: James V. Hart, William Joyce
Aspect Ratio: 2.40:1 AVC
Audio: English: DTS-HD MA 7.1, Spanish, French, Portuguese, Croatian, Czech, Slovak, Slovenian DD 5.1
Studio: 20th Century Fox
Runtime: 102 minutes
Blu-Ray Release Date: August 20th, 2013
Buy Epic 3D combo pack Blu-ray on Amazon
Buy Epic 2D combo pack Blu-ray on Amazon
Recommendation: Rent It
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