The main problem with the film “Epic” is that, well…it isn’t. Not even in the slightest. Oh, it’s handsomely animated but in nearly every other aspect it underwhelms. Treading a well-worn plot path first hacked through by “Ferngully” then shamelessly pillaged by “Avatar”, it’s difficult to pinpoint exactly which one this film is a reimagining of, but it immediately robs it of any sense of originality.
The story revolves around the Queen of the Forest (Beyoncé Knowles in an ego serving cameo) selecting an heir however when the ceremony is interrupted, the future of the forest is put into doubt as the forces of darkness seek to claim the magic pod for themselves and rule over a dark and decaying land. In a desperate attempt to save the pod, the wounded Queen uses magic to shrink human girl MK who has run away from her eccentric scientist father because of his obsession with discovering a hidden miniature civilisation in the forest.
Despite a stellar voice cast (Colin Farrell, Josh Hutcherson, Amanda Seyfried, Christoph Waltz and many, many more!), it struggles to make any kind of emotional connection and as a result, it’s hard to care about any of the characters or the outcome of their adventures. The supporting characters feel more like a checklist of animated movie clichés than integral and organic to the plot and so the movie sometimes feels overstuffed and bloated with unnecessary distractions.
Director Chris Wedge’s previous films as director were 2005’s criminally underrated “Robots” and 2002’s slightly overrated “Ice Age” but the ecologically charged “Epic” has none of the heart and soul that the machine-driven “Robots” did and lacks the personality and spark that “Ice Age” had in abundance. The technology available to make this movie is fifteen years more advanced than that available to Pixar when they made “A Bug’s Life” but it’s the Pixar film that manages to achieve the sense of wonder and charm that “Epic” is reaching for but can’t grasp.
As you may have noticed, “Epic” irresistibly invites comparison with other animated movies and comes up short every time. In the end, its title ends up being the biggest problem, making a promise the perfectly adequate but ultimately unremarkable movie can’t possibly live up to.