Wasn’t on my radar, but it wasn’t half bad.
Epic is about a young girl who moves out to the boonies to go live with her estranged father. As for why they’re estranged, all signs point to his obsession with the itty-bitty forest-dwellers that he thinks are living in the surrounding woods. Naturally, everyone including his daughter doesn’t believe him, and before long it, it just becomes too much for this poor girl to handle. She packs up her stuff and plans to move out when, lo and behold, she’s magically transported to the world of the forest-dwellers. Turns out, they’re as real as can be, and next thing she knows, she’s the protector of a mystical flower bulb that will supposedly save the land. So with the help of two forest soldiers, they move to deliver that bulb to its rightful place before the forces of evil turn their paradise into a wasteland.
Yup, can’t say I was planning on seeing this one, but I guess that’s what being a good older brother is all about. I don’t know, with so many studios out there trying to piggyback off the success of Pixar these days, I wasn’t holding my breath for the latest effort from the Ice Age crew. But since Pixar ain’t exactly firing on all cylinders these days either, I guess didn’t have much to lose. And while this sorry state of affairs hasn’t changed at all since the credits rolled, it’s hard to get bent out of shape over a kind-hearted movie such as this.
As the plot might have tipped you off, the double-edged sword to this story is that its derived from some movies that did it a whole lot better. Right off the bat, everything about this lonely gal living among inch-folk just reeks of The Secret World of Arrietty. As soon as things get bite-sized, it goes head-first into the secret world of FernGully. Sure, this time it’s a girl instead of boy and the bulldozers have been replaced with a tamer breed of Uruk-Hai, but yeah, originality’s not its strong suit. However, it is does have one unique thing going for it.
You know how houseflies are pretty much impossible to swat with just your bare hand, how hummingbirds move faster than your brain can fathom? Turns out, there’s a reason for that, a reason no one else is privy to except for this girl’s wacky dad. As it just so happens, house flies, hummingbirds and these tiny forest people live on a different plane of time than the one we know and love. As a result, their wold operates at about four times the speed as ours does, which means things in our world move awfully slow by comparison. Hence the need for flyswatters, hence the reason her old man has had such a tough go of proving that these tiny dudes exist.
Call it a gimmick, but it’s actually pretty neat as long as you don’t try to dive too deep into the logistics of it all.
And not for nothing, but it is a nice story. The quest to save the forest is entertaining enough and there were a couple sticky situations where I was admittedly stumped as to how the good guys would overcome. And while that’s all well and good, it’s the strained relationship between this girl and her father that actually makes the movie. It’s much more mature than I was expecting since it’s not everyday that a CG wife leaves her CG husband, and it ultimately proves quite genuine as well. Wasn’t breaking out the Kleenex like it was Toy Story 3, but I’m glad they spent more time on this relationship than trying to convince us that it’s totally cool for a life-seize girl to date a boy the size of here toenail.
Other than that, this script and its host of stock characters leave something to be desired.
It’s been a long time since I’ve seen the original Ice Age, but I do remember laughing quite a bit. On that note, it seems like the status quo for “kiddie movies” these days is that parents should be laughing right along. There’s certainly some leeway to be given, but one can only give so much. Despite its efforts, I barely cracked a grin, and just so I don’t sound like a total-freakin’-Grinch, my 10-year-old brother wasn’t grinning much either. Talking slugs and three-legged dogs only do so much for me these days. Definitely beneath what one would expect from Aziz Ansari and Chris O’Dowd.
But hey, it all looks pretty good. Decent character models, lots of vibrant greens to look at, and the action scenes were actually quite impressive. Who’dathunk? Although I will say that the cast is a bit strange. I get Christoph Waltz as the bad guy, but as for what Pitbull and Beyonce are doing here, your guess is as good as mine. Is Pitbull the new Hanson or something? Did I miss that? Kids today…
Anyhow, I can’t say Epic had much of an impact on my life, but that’s okay, it works for what it is and at least it’s got heart. It’s no Arrietty, not by a mile. Still, take the kids, they’ll love you for it. And that’s all I have to say about that.