The creators of Ice Age and Rio aim to deliver their biggest film ever and on the visual front it delivers the goods in a tremendous way. Story wise though, Epic does a huge belly flop when it attempts to live up to its name.
Director Chris Wedge, who made the first Ice Age film and the voice of Scrat seems to be chasing the illusive box office acorn because everything about Epic has the musty whiff of stale storytelling. The film chronicles a teenager (Amanda Seyfried) who moves in with her estranged mad scientist dad (Jason Sudeikis) after the death of her mother. The dad has ruined his career by being obsessed with searching for a colony of fairy-like creatures in the nearby woods. The kid’s disappointment in her dad quickly gives way when she walks into the forest and is shrunken down to size after being handed a task to help save the people of the woods. It could all be a major psychological breakdown but seeing as this is a kids’ film we’re forced to believe the legitimacy of the rabbit hole.
Tiny warriors, magical forests, fairy queens, evil toads, a young girl changing fate and destiny are not exactly new concepts and Epic falls hard once we know that there isn’t anything new coming our way. Once the protagonist sets off on her journey to save the forest from doom you’ll be ticking off a list of clichés the story relies on. The filmmakers make no effort to establish why the evil Boggans want to destroy the forest – they’re simply painted black and we’re expected to accept the evilness of that color. Despite a fairly likable protagonist Epic dwindles every time the camera cuts to the bland and unfunny supporting characters - even the generally hilarious Aziz Ansari does the same shtick from Parks and Recreation as a slug who constantly hits on the girl. The only fun sequences are the ones shot from the perspective of the tiny men who see the humans as huge, slow, lumbering idiots. The 3D does more harm than good in an already problematic story – the exquisite shots of the jungle foliage and its many colors are once again dimmed and blurred down by the 3D conversion. Ultimately Epic doesn’t work as an adventure and it doesn’t work as a comedy, what it does is it succeeds in making us hate musician turned voice actor Pitbull even more than usual.
(First published in MiD Day)