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Movie review: ‘Epic’

Posted 12:08am on Friday, May. 24, 2013

PG (mild action, scary images, brief rude language); 102 min.

Derivative as all get out and plainly concocted by a committee, Epic is a children’s animated 3-D film that is more entertaining and emotional than it has any right to be. Throw in some truly gorgeous animation and Blue Sky, the studio that made it, delivers more proof that it has moved on from the junky cash-machine “Ice Age” movies, even if this one doesn’t rise to the charms and wit of Rio.

Taking characters from a William Joyce children’s book about Leaf Men and Brave Good Bugs, a team of writers has borrowed from Antz and A Bug’s Life, and even The Spiderwick Chronicles, for a story about the fairy forces of life in a forest, the Leaf Men (and women) and their allies, in battle with the rotting reptilian bog-dwelling forces of decay.

A dotty scientist has surveillance cameras covering the forest where this struggle is going on and suspects that there are little people out there, riding into battle on hummingbirds and crows, armored and armed with bows and arrows.

But it’s his daughter, M.K. (Amanda Seyfried), who finds the proof. That happens when she is magically shrunk by the Queen (Beyonce Knowles) and tasked with ensuring that this one lily pod blooms and renews life by the light of the full moon.

M.K. struggles to survive this brave (tiny) new world, where warriors like the rebellious Nod (Josh Hutcherson) and mission-focused Ronin (Colin Farrell) must fend off the reptilian designs of Mandrake (Christoph Waltz).

M.K. is assisted in her quest by a very funny snail and a slug (Chris O’Dowd, Aziz Ansari) that know how to keep the pod alive until it blooms.

Epic isn’t epic, but it isn’t half bad, either. It’s just that as high as the bar has been raised on this sort of animation, this is more evidence that a strong story is worth more than any next-generation software.

— Roger Moore, McClatchy-Tribune News Service

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