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, DreamWorks 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.
As the trailers promised, the world of Epic is a beautiful creation of art, computer graphics, and attention to detail. The animators at DreamWorks 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 DreamWorks 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 naïve, youthful, and rebellious, Pit-bull has the persona of a big boss toad who likes to run the show, and Beyoncé 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:
Movie Overall: 6.5-7.0