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5/10 This is without a doubt the most fantastic visual animation I've ever seen. It brought to mind i) nature scenes on Pandora in "Avatar", ii) lush vegetation jungle scenes from "Up!", iii) the whole valley turning green at the end of "Princess Mononoke", and iv) the infinitely graded colors in "Oz the Great and Powerful". (I watched it in 2D, and don't know what 3D is like.)2 years ago
But visually it outstrips all of those. The plants are real ones we're familiar with (not imagined ones); scenes are incredibly detailed (not one fern but tens of them, not one blossom but hundreds); biological growth and decay is of individual plants seen up close (not a very long shot across a whole valley); and all the vibrant yet subtle colors appear in nature (not a fantasy world). Vegetation unfurls and extends as we watch, and it all seems perfectly realistic and believable. We see the whole process of burls developing on live trees in just a few seconds over and over. We see growth meristems probing for the best direction and expanding little by little. And we see the slight shifts in color that signal the beginning of more decay or more growth.
All the animation effects technology has already conquered --fur, musculature, waves, droplets, rain, crowds, flying, moving cameras, etc. etc.-- are also deployed virtuosic-ally in the places the storyline calls for them. From my aged (about 60) perspective, it seems suitable and enjoyable for all ages (although it's rated PG) ...and not because adults will see a different film as they understand the more salacious meaning of double entendres - there aren't any. There isn't any notable music nor abstract visual patterns nor references to fairy tales either, other things frequently associated with animations.
The story is decent too. It's a seamless melding of realities (such as a brusque taxi driver) with fantasy (tiny beings riding hummingbirds?). It proceeds organically, eventually incorporating pretty much everything that happened earlier (even things that appeared to be already completed or even unrelated). The typical joke is mostly visual, developing slowly over many seconds - no one-liners here. There are not a lot of the ironic jokes that have been prominent in many recent animations. (In fact this movie is often relegated to "kids film" or "family film", which makes me feel a little silly for enjoying it.) The ending is positive but not saccharine -- there's resolution ...but not of everything.
Comic relief is provided by a tag team of a snail and a slug. A typical gag is something about "eyes inside your head" or "everybody hide in your shell" (slugs of course don't have shells). I found it adequately funny (but not laugh out loud funny). Humor is a very personal thing though, and I suspect some of the more "with it" young adults will find it painfully unfunny.
The flights, the fights, the falls are gripping. This is edge of your seat stuff. And the tiny perspective casts familiar things in a new light: a mouse becomes a threatening giant, and a looming doggie kiss would mean serious injury or even death. Pick a theater with a really big screen and a newish projector, and sit toward the front. And if you're an animation aficionado plan to attend more than once. Also, sit through the end credits, as the level of detail and imagination in the background visuals --often throwaways or repeats, but not here-- is astounding.
Hardly epic, but good
8/10 My Rating: ***1/2 (out of ****)2 years ago
The way things a currently looking, this might very well not be a Pixar year. A much as I might enjoy Monsters University and possibly Planes, they may very well not be my favorite animated films of the year, and they probably won't be. The Croods is already my favorite animated film of the year, and this movie, Epic, in my opinion, is also pretty good.
The main protagonist of the film is Mary Katherine, or M. K., a likable (and cute) teenage girl who, after her mother's death, goes to live with her eccentric and reclusive father. Her father believes that there is a miniature world of magical little people and creatures that live in the forest, and of course other people, including M. K., don't believe him. However, she soon magically shrunken and discovers this little world, which she must save.
And so on. I admit, the movie is not very epic; it is a bit generic and has just about every cliche possible: good vs. evil, balance of nature, dysfunctional parent/child relationship, etc etc. The film resembles a number of other films, such as FernGully, Avatar, and Honey I Shrunk the Kids, among others. One of the main characters, the Nod, even resembles Flynn Rider from Tangled pretty strongly (but this wasn't a problem for me). However, I disagree with everyone who is calling it charmless, forgettable, too reliant on visuals, and weak in terms of character, plot, heart, etc. That's right, I actually enjoyed it.
I actually thought the movie was handled fairly well and has a decent, solid, enjoyable, well- paced plot. The film started out a bit slow, but I started to get more interested as trouble started brewing in the miniature forest world and then M. K. gets shrunken; from then on the movie was much better, and I got interested and emotionally involved in the story. The film also has likable characters and relationships, and good voice performances by Amanda Seyfried, Josh Hutcherson, Colin Farrell, Beyonce Knowles, and the rest of the cast. It even had some good humorous parts, including a pair of mollusks and a three-legged dog.
The best part of the film is the animation; dazzling, lively, meticulously detailed, and it helps bring everything to life. Like Avatar, this movie has what I found to be an interesting, immersing, well-designed setting. Also, like Avatar, it has a good, strong ecological message, which I appreciate. It also has heart, charm, and genuine emotion, and additional good moral messages such as friendship, love, bravery, and selflessness.
Bottom line: If you ask me, Epic is hardly epic, but it's good. And it was especially enjoyable for me on the big screen. Kids will certainly love it; and if you are an adult, like me, just let out your inner child and enjoy the film.
For more reviews, visit my review blog: http://robertsreliablereviews.blogspot.com/
Fantastic world and fantastic for Kids
5/10 My third film for this Memorial Day weekend takes me out of the rated R woods and into one that is more magical and kid friendly. No I'm not on drugs, I'm talking about the movie Epic, Blue Sky Studios (BSS) latest animated installment. I'll admit that seeing the trailers last summer got me stoked at the potential for comedy, action, and a heartwarming tale. Yet like many movies I feared that I would be disappointed by the final product. What was the verdict? Read on to find out.2 years ago
As the trailers promised, the world of Epic is a beautiful creation of art, computer graphics, and attention to detail. The animators at BSS do their homework when it comes to creating their worlds/characters, managing to capture the natural grooves, curves, and texture of nature's beauty. From the lines in the various leaves to the warped and horrific dimensions of rot, Epic's visuals are indeed some of the finest I've seen in a while. They don't stop there however, as the team took another step up to develop their creatures of fantasy. The denizens of the hidden world in the forest impressed me, as a beautiful blend of human anatomy and environment melded into a combination that I could only dream of. Of course like many movies, there was plenty of cookie cutting going on, especially in scenes where there were mass congregations or when the enemy swarmed the scene. Despite this minor flaw though, Epic's world is clever, bold, and magical.
Yet visuals probably isn't the main reason most will be seeing this movie is it? Many people may be going to take a young family member/friend to see a fun adventure. If that is the case, Epic is your movie of choice as the children in my theater were dazzled by what the movie had to offer. The comedy styles of Mub (Aziz Ansari) and Grub (Chris O'Dowd) might have been the most entertaining factor for the audience. Both Ansari and O'Dowd throw their two cents into the fray, one thinking he is a player, while the other wants to be a knight. Yet both are goofballs doing odd tricks, making silly faces, and performing mannerisms that the young and young at heart will love. Their voices matched the characters incredibly well for me, both giving the lines the perfect punch to leave me in stitches. Of course the other characters have some one hit wonders when it comes to making people laugh. A three legged dog, a clumsy professor and even Nod (Josh Hutcherson) have a few moments that are quite amusing.
Aside from two wisecracking slugs what else might grab the audience's attention? I would have to say the action/adventure of the movie was the next big factor. I can't lie it didn't meet my expectations, but then again it is a kids movie. Instead of the Lord of the Rings like battles, most of the fighting was limited to well-placed arrow shots, a few punches, and a couple of sword slashes. Again the younger audience will mostly think it was awesome, but don't get your hopes too high. When Nod or Ronin (Colin Farrell) fly birds is where the real excitement comes into play. Like a mad roller coaster ride, the audience gets to watch the majestic dance unfold as the airborne steeds navigate through nature's obstacles whilst their riders flip acrobatically to avoid danger. Overall the violence has been brought to a bare minimum, and parents won't have to worry about their kids acting out a beheading scene. Amidst the excitement though is a bit of sadness as well. For me I foresaw many things coming, but younger audience members might get a little upset at some of the sadder scenes in this movie. Some scenes even scared a few of the younger audience members, particularly those that involved the loud roars and creature popping out of the ground, so again be cautious when taking them.
Despite how much of this is geared towards kids though, there are still a few thing BSS did to entertain the adult audience. Mub's jokes have some adult humor in it, which will surely get some laughs, though not as many as Donkey from Shrek. Unlike most kid movies, Epic does a good job avoiding the annoying characters and keeping things in balance to avoid making parents want to slam their heads into the seat. However, it is inevitable for some lines to get ingrained into the minds of the kids, so expect some endless quotes to follow you home. The thing I found most adults will mainly love is some of the heartwarming moments in this movie. I'm not talking about a budding romance that we saw in Ferngully, but instead is more about reuniting and self-discovery amidst a chaotic world. Now you might find it cheesy, but for me I found it to be well done, and something I could experience in the real world, minus the fairies and small creatures. Yeah some of the dialog was a bit too forced, but not bad overall.
As for the voice acting, I think that it was a great cast to pick and that the characters represented a lot of images their actors portray in other media. Hutchinson is naive, youthful, and rebellious, Pit-bull has the persona of a big boss toad who likes to run the show, and Beyonce has a side that is caring and nurturing. Regardless, Epic has a lot of positives that I think will wow and amaze kids. The "exciting" battles, the lovable characters, and the cute comedy are certain to entertain a lot of people, but Epic still needed some fine tuning before coming out. My scores are below: Animation/Adventure/Family: 8.0 Movie Overall: 6.5-7.0
WOW! Epic is the perfect family movie for everyone in a summer filled with sequels, superheroes, and big-budget films.
8/10 Epic is about a smart, spirited, and headstrong 17 year-old, teenager named Mary Katherine "M.K." who, after the death of her mother, moves back to live with her estranged father, Professor Bomba, along with her pet dog, Ozzy. Bomba has long studied a group of warriors who live in the forest and protect it as guardians of good. He often will go into the forest and survey them. She, like every other human in the movie, doesn't believe in all the stuff her father has devoted particularly his life to. She loses patience with him and his stories and their reunion is all but a disaster. One day, the professor does not return from a hike in the forest, so Mary Katherine sets out to look for him. Hours later, she comes upon a group of glowing, falling leaves. Catching one of them, she is suddenly shrunken down. In her minuscule state, she discovers the group of warriors Prof. Bomba has studied, who are known as the Leaf-Men. When she is forced to reside with the Leaf-Men, she gains a new perspective and developed friendships with everyone in the forest. To find her way home, M.K. must do than believe in this world; she'll help to save it from the Boggans and their ruthless, villainous leader Mandrake. This is a story about betrayal, sacrifice, friendship, love, bravery, courage, and caring for something else rather than yourself.2 years ago
The acting is really superb and all the actors have great chemistry together: Amanda Seyfried, Josh Hutcherson, Christoph Waltz, Colin Farrell, Aziz Ansari, and Jason Sudekis are terrific, while Beyonce is the best of all. She is a real acting triumph in the film, and her performance is so critical in the film, as Queen Tara will do anything to ensure the safety of the forest and the lives of her friends, and that she leaves M.K. a very important mission to do her behalf when she couldn't. She brings a lot of integrity, passion, and heart to her role and helps carry the film with spectacular grace.
There's a lot to love about the film, including its production design, visual artistry, and the 3D, which are as dazzling, grand, spectacular, and innovative as, say, Avatar. The 3D is really worth the price of admission; the film features strong emotional depth and an immersive experience that can be greatly experienced in 3D, and the animation, in particular, is terrifically phenomenal and realistic. Danny Elfman did a very good job with the music score as he captured the spirit, excitement, essence, and heart of the film.
With the script written by William Joyce, James V. Hart (Hook, August Rush), Tom J. Astle and Matt Ember (Get Smart), and Daniel Shere, the story's narrative was famillar to other films, but so was Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs, How to Train Your Dragon, Hotel Transylvania, and The Croods, and yet, it was cleverly written that it stands out on its own from other films so there's nothing to worry about. They, along with Chris Wedge and the story artists, have aggressively expanded William Joyce's original story by giving it fantastical mythologies about the forest, more development on the characters, and the supplementing the action-adventure genre in the story as Wedge envisioned. I liked the fact that Joyce worked on the script, because when you have a small story that was expanded to be more ambitious and dramatic, then it's best to have input from Joyce as he included a lot of cool and interesting plot points in the film.
For instance, Joyce modeled Mary Katherine (M.K.) very much after his own daughter; she, unfortunately, died from a brain tumor in 2010 and it was a very personal and devastating loss for him. I truly wish that this movie should've been dedicated to her memory, as it would mean much to her family and friends. She would've been very proud of the movie, her father's work on the film, and the main character in the film, Mary Katherine (M.K.).
Wedge's direction triumphed the most in the film. He came a long way from his beginnings and he wanted to make the film something special. He wanted to make this as an action-adventure epic on the scale of Ben-Hur, Star Wars, Gladiator, and the Lord of the Rings trilogy, and he succeeds it. He doesn't intend it to be cute and I'm grateful that it wasn't; previous action-adventure animated films Titan A.E. and Atlantis had intense situations with childlike supporting characters, thus leaving the films with a poorly identified targeted audience about what's a film's targeted audience and this was not the case for Epic. I liked how he handed with both the characters and actors, and his direction is ingenious and visionary. He can really handle big ambitious epic films with ingenious storytelling on this scale, even if it's an animated film. The epic spectacle is never at the expanse of the story, characters, and the heart of the story.
Epic goes to prove to people that animated films can also really handle the action-adventure genre as much as live-action films do, just like how Peter Pan, Sleeping Beauty, Akira, Atlantis: The Lost Empire, The Incredibles, and Kung Fu Panda trilogy did. With this film, Blue Sky Studios wanted to prove everyone that they can do so much more than pop culture references, cheap jokes, and unimaginative storytelling. They've not only exceeded that, they surpassed it and beyond. With this film, this is a promising launch of the new Blue Sky Studios, which has declared war on DreamWorks, Disney Animation, and Pixar.
You will be laughing, astonished, amazed, blown away, and inspired, because Epic truly stands out as one of the most surprising film experiences of the year, and could be one of the best films of the year.
5/10 Animation movies are all about the feel.Epic is a movie where the feel while watching the movie is brilliant.The level of detail that has gone into each frame in creating this world is mind boggling.The result is an aesthetically pleasing experience that deserves applause.The characters are all likable and well imagined.The snails are funny.I especially loved Mary Katherine,endearing and innocent.The 3-D is decent and the background score good.The overall experience is enjoyable.2 years ago
Kids will love this one!If you are an adult,just let out the child in you and have fun :).