I was very impressed when I first saw the trailer for Blue Sly’s animated film Epic. I felt like the same studio that produced Rio is starting to give Disney-Pixar and Dreamworks a run for their money with this fantasy flick that is loosely based on the novel The Leaf Men and the Brave Good Bugs by William Joyce. Several days after seeing the full length feature however, I am still uncertain whether I liked it or not.
The story revolves around an estranged father and daughter Professor Bomba (Jason Sudeikis) and M.K. (Amanda Seyfried) whose relationship is tentative at best given the scientist’s fascination with his study of the forest and the enchanted little creatures living in it. M.K., still at a loss after the death of her mom, finds her dad delusional but realizes the truth to his claims when she herself shrinks to the size of the creatures his dad keeps telling her about, witnesses the death of the queen of the forest (Beyonce) and is tasked with protecting the pod that carries the power to protect or destroy the forest. Accompanied by the Leafmen’s general Ronin (Colin Farrel), his star erstwhile star pupil Nod (Josh Hutcherson), and slugs Mub and Grub, they must keep the pod safe until the full moon and away from the evil Mandrake (Christoph Waltz) who plans the use the pod’s power for evil.
Just to make it clear, I did not hate the movie. It was fairly well executed, all things considered. I was a big fan of the cinematography and artwork in this movie and the vibrant colors that seems to be the trademark of Blue Sky. The problem was the story. While as a standalone, it made a lot of sense, the plot seemed like a composite of Spiderwick, Arthur, Avatar and several other fantasy flicks that have enjoyed great reception in previous years. The problem was that Epic failed to distinguish itself from these fantasy flicks and create its own mark in the genre. While I loved the smooth talking slug Mub (Chris Dowd), and the adorable three legged dog Ozzie, their hilarious scenes failed to cover for the unremarkable scenes that made for the rest of the movie. And because the characters seemed like watered down versions of popular characters, audiences fail to establish empathy for them that is crucial to get them involved in the film.
I was also disappointed that the music from the trailer (Lightning Strike by Snow Patrol) was not incorporated in the movie. I believe that the song was what made the trailer epic and it would have helped set the mood for the film itself.
All in all, the movie was successful in terms of well crafted and seamless animation, but at the end of the day, the lack of imagination to think out of the box cost Epic and and it became run off the mill generic.