Pauls Valley, Oklahoma — As an avid film buff who often favors animation over live action, 2013 has so far been a year barely pinging the radar. Off to a rather slow star and average results for the few actually hitting the cinema, success for each selection to date has not had a lot of competition and looks to still be more than three weeks from full throttle.
However, there is today’s entry, something which appeared to be a world graphically amazing enough at first glance, though in trailers reminiscent of been there done that while delving in the secret world of the nature around us. The obvious ones like “Avatar” and “Fern Gully” turn out to be appropriate enough influences, though upon further reflection it is easy to detect some “Spiderwick Chronicles” or “Bridge to Terabithia” as well, yet pushing through enough of its own story to not feel totally recycled. “Epic” does seem a bit exaggerated if you want to really examine overall quality, with something that is sure to be fine for the youngest kids, but a bit flat for the adults tagging along.
The story focuses on a 17-year-old girl named Mary Katherine (Amanda Seyfried), who is reluctantly visiting her estranged father, Professor Bomba (Jason Sudeikis) at his home out in the country. Much to her dismay, he is still continues the work of finding a secret race of plant people, a problem that didn’t end well previously for the stability of the family.
However, as reluctant as Katherine is to believe the wild fantasies of her father, her attitude changes when she is somehow transported to this hidden world upon the death of its ruler Queen Tara (Beyoncé Knowles). Before our teenaged heroin can quite get her bearings she is quickly involved in a race to save this world with the help of those like a leafman Warrior, Ronin (Colin Farrel) as well as a rebellious leafman named Nod (Josh Hutcherson) from the clutches of a villain named Mandrake (Christoph Waltz) and his Boggans. I want to point out that I actually enjoyed much of the film with a rather heartwarming tale and plenty of humor, but it seems as if those working on the scenes gave up somewhere three fourths of the way through and suddenly changed to lazy writers for the conclusion.
If I were to pinpoint one item that keeps it out of contention for the year’s best it would be how the queen’s role is almost dismissed right at the end after being set up as the one thing holding this hidden world all together. Without spoiling too much of the plot, what happens with the events leading up to a successor for her majesty shift in rather lame direction and what emotional attachment characters had in-between the worlds suddenly becomes a cheap resolution from a Saturday morning cartoon.
I kind of expected more from the same studio that brought us a very vibrant “Rio,” but unlike that, I’m not invested enough to care if there is a sequel. If you need a quick distraction for the wee ones, it works, but otherwise it’s better to hold out and wait for something like “Monsters University” later on. All in all, I’d say “Epic” earned two and a half out of five germinations.
Movie viewing experience courtesy of the Royal Twin Theater of Pauls Valley.