It’s a bold move to name your movie Epic. That’s a lot to live up to, even if you’re pretty sure your movie might be epic. Fortunately for us moviegoers, Epic lives up to its name.
I had a feeling I’d like this movie from the moment I saw the bit of animation in the trailer where beautifully-rendered dandelions suddenly turn to reveal themselves as tiny people. Stunning. My daughter and I were invited to the premiere here in New York City, and we had an epic morning. (We totally walked the red carpet, even if it was a green carpet.) We were certainly in a frame of mind to enjoy the show.
Before I tell you about the movie, though, have a look at the poster. Look how many characters are on that thing. There are ten actors that have their names above the title. This is what interests me about Epic. Depending on who you are and what you’re interested in, you could describe this movie entirely differently from another person. You might wonder if you even saw the same movie. For instance, here’s a description I was sent about the movie:
Epic has it all-Samurai-like action and warriors, incredible aerial battles, laugh out loud humor and an adventure that will transport you to a hidden, rich and beautiful world, unlike any you’ve seen before.
I don’t disagree with any of that. It was incredibly action-packed with intense battle scenes showing the Leaf Men, the military protectors of the forest, doing battle against the minions of the evil Mandrake (marvelously voiced by Christoph Waltz) who is determined to spread rot through the forest. Nod, our lead maverick, runs afoul of this military until his father figure, General Ronin, needs the help of Nod’s rogue ways.
That’s what it’s about if you’re primarily an action fan. If you’re a comedy fan, it is very funny. Two of my favorite funny men, Aziz Ansari and Chris O’Dowd, voice the slugs that hang out like a slimy Greek chorus. There’s also a hint of rom-com.
For me, though, this movie was all about the ladies. The biggest face on the poster is M.K., short for Mary Katherine. M.K. lost her mom, and she now seeks out her estranged (and strange) dad. Her dad is obsessed with finding a civilization of tiny people that live in the forest, an obsession that cost him his marriage and relationship with his daughter. Not long after she comes into her dad’s house she’s ready to leave, frustrated that he’ll never change. But before she’s able to get back on the road, she crosses paths with someone who will change her life forever.
That someone is Beyoncé’s Queen Tara. It’s impossible to separate the Beyoncé from Queen Tara, so don’t even try. Queen Tara is the life of the forest, and on this important day she’s to choose a new flower bud to bestow her powers on. I’ll admit I rolled my eyes a bit at Queen’s Tara’s backless Beyoncé gown, but when Mandrake’s minions attacked moments after she selected the bud, Beyoncé Queen Tara was all action star. So awesome.
In this chase, Queen Tara and M.K. cross paths. Queen Tara shrinks M.K. down to her size and gives her the responsibility of making sure the bud blooms in the moonlight of the solstice moon. Now M.K. is one of the little people her dad is so desperate to find. Spoiler: this just might help with a reconciliation with dad later in the film.
I love that in this movie everyone has their own power, equals in an ecosystem. Good guys and bad guys. Slugs and Leaf Men. Men and Women. I’m so grateful for movies that show my daughter great, powerful female characters that aren’t powerful at the expense of the male characters. And everyone has heart, even the evil Mandrake when he loses someone close to him. Epic is a natural world seeking to maintain its delicate balance.
The animation is as stunning as I’d hoped from seeing the trailer. I saw it and enjoyed it in 3D, but I don’t think it’s essential to see it in 3D, though there were some marvelous moments with a shallow depth of field that made the scene look so real. Some of the character design was a little strange, like General Ronin with the world’s tiniest forehead, and the supremely weird Nim Galuu, a cuddle caterpillar guy voiced by Stephen Tyler. The rest of the characters were gorgeous.
Epic is an epic movie worth seeing. There’s something here for everyone, though the constant battles will scare the young ones. I’d say 6-years-old and up is good for this, depending on your child’s temperament.