17-year old MK (voiced by Amanda Seyfried) returns to her father’s isolated forest home after a long absence. Hoping to finally get closer to her eccentric dad ((Jason Sudeikis), she is saddened to find that little has changed. The professor seems more obsessed than ever with his scientific research – madness in her opinion – convinced that a miniature people lives in the forest and determined to prove it. Realizing that she is wasting her time, MK makes ready to leave when she, herself, is suddenly drawn into the same tiny world. Magically shrunken to miniscule size, she discovers the hidden kingdom of Moonhaven – a world in dire danger. For the age-old battle between good and evil is just reaching its climax, and it would seem that MK has a vital role to play…
MK joins the Leafmen, under the leadership of the great warrior Ronin, who are struggling to defend Moonhaven against the evil Boggarts, led by the sinister Mandrake (English and German versions both voiced by Christoph Waltz). Able to wither every living thing, Mandrake’s goal is to take over the domain and turn it into a kingdom of the dead. Only when Moonhaven is safe, will the spell be lifted so that MK can return to her human-sized world. But time is short and Mandrake and his army seem to be gaining the upper hand…
Based on the children’s book by William Joyce, director Chris Wedge (ICE AGE) takes his viewers into a wonderfully-detailed and fascinating fantasy world, invisible to the human eye, where the tiny Leafmen fly on the backs of humming birds, a mouse is suddenly a dangerous predator, and a stapler can be used as a springboard. Just a few examples of the visual creativity, enhanced by the mandatory – but very effective – use of 3D, which makes this animated adventure truly delightful, especially for younger viewers. Unfortunately, this is where the creativity ends.
The classic storyline is lifted from a miscellany of other works, borrowing elements from AVATAR, SPIDERWICK, NARNIA, and LORD OF THE RINGS, among others, although the target audience (children of 8 years and up) may not be so quick to identify the relevant source material. EPIC is nonetheless entertaining and, apart from its glorious detail, has some simple humor as well as a few good characters to offer. The two talking snails Mub (Aziz Ansari) and Grub (Chris O’Dowd), for example, are the comedy duo of the piece, and even though their slapstick is often over-the-top, it is likely to appeal to younger viewers.
EPIC is cautiously PC and its environmentalist message is delivered with a sledge hammer, which somehow dilutes the magic and “Epic-ness” in my opinion. Engaging enough, this offering still lacks warmth and individuality and is unlikely to approach anywhere near the success of ICE AGE.
EPIC (USA, 2013); Genre: Animation/Adventure/Childrens Film; Distributor: 20th Century Fox; Running time: 104 mins; German title: EPIC – VERBORGENES KÖNIGREICH; Director: Chris Wedge; Writers: Tom J. Astle, Matt Ember, James V. Hart, William Joyce – (based on the book “The Leaf Men and the Brave Good Bugs“) by Daniel Shere; Cinematographer: Renato Falcão; Music: Danny Elfman; Production design: Greg Couch; Voices: Jason Sudeikis, Steven Tyler, Amanda Seyfried; Beyoncé Knowles, Josh Hutcherson, Judah Friedlander, Colin Farrell, Aziz Ansari, Blak Anderson, Christoph Waltz, Chris O’Dowd; Release dates: May 24 (US) / May 116 (Germany)
For furter info & trailer: www.epic-derfilm.de