Cert: U / 102 mins / Dir. Chris Wedge
Well, there's a turn-up. From an incredibly dull looking trailer comes a film which I thoroughly enjoyed. The story itself is as 'reliable' as you'd expect, but it's structured so solidly that it really doesn't matter. It's classical adventure-fare, so will be ideally suited to a younger audience, and the U-certificate means there's little in the way of any real edge or threat. But at its core, Epic is a very well-told tale, with some beautiful visuals (even in the 2D version I watched), and that should charm you to some extent. It reminded me of a lot of things I'd seen before, both in animation and live-action, but never to the point where I thought it was directly ripping-off other stories (just, y'know, vaguely. Very vaguely, a lot of the time. I spotted a Podrace and a Death Star run in there, as well as elements of Back To The Future, but that's just me).
Thankfully, the humour (visual and scripted) is kept to a manageable level, and the eco-moralising I was expecting is all but absent. The voice-acting is pretty much spot-on, and Danny Elfman's score never oversteps the mark (both of which issues have derailed many a film in the past). Most importantly, it kept the smaller viewers engaged for the full-run, so it's working for its target-audience. Saturday afternoon can be a noisy, fidgety affair in a cinema, but once the lights went down there wasn't a peep. Obviously, this didn't stop one particular Dad checking his phone twice during the film, but you can't have everything. I blame the parents.
Epic is nothing you haven't seen before, but then, it's trying to save the forest, not step outside of it. Whether it has the punch to warrant a sequel or not remains to be seen, but as a self-contained family movie, you can't go far wrong.
A small thing to look out for: In the scenes when Mary Katherine isn't miniaturised, the Leafmen are rendered with a plasticky texture, making them look like toys. Once she's in their world, the character surfaces all feel real (as real as this movie gets, anyhow). I can't work out if this was an artistic decision or a marketing one. It's quite a nice touch, either way, although it does suggest a subtext that MK and her father are dreaming or hallucinating the entire episode. As we see several mushroom-people in the forest-kingdom, it's probably best not to dwell on that one too much...
It's representative of the look, but not really the feel.
If it's the animation you're interested in, cinema; if it's the story, you won't lose anything by watching at at home.
At some point.
What do you look for in an animated movie? Do you prefer a 'classical' story-arc, or do you like it when a film spreads its wings, but risks leaving its younger audience behind?
• ^^^ That's dry, British humour, and most likely sarcasm or facetiousness.
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