Starring: Colin Farrell, Josh Hutcherson, Amanda Seyfried, Christoph Waltz, Beyoncé Knowles, Blake Anderson, Aziz Ansari, Chris O'Dowd, Steven Tyler, Jason Sudeikis, and more.
Directed by: Chris Wedge Story by: William Joyce, James V Hart, and Chris Wedge Screenplay by: James V Hart, William Joyce, Daniel Shere, Tom J Astle, Matt Ember Based on the book "The Leaf Men and The Brave Good Bugs" by: William Joyce Cinematography by: Renato Falcão Music by: Danny Elfman
Premise: Moving to her father's house after her mother's death, Mary Katherine is disappointed to see he's still up to the same strange research that led her mother to leave him years before. Her father believes there's an advanced civilization of diminutive people living in the forest. So when it looks like the solstice, combined with a full moon, has her father running about even more than usual, MK decides the new arrangement isn't going to work after all. But when the three legged, one eyed pug, Ozzie runs off into the forest, MK goes after him, and stumbles into the middle of a battle of good versus evil. (Rated PG)
1) Voice Acting - Thumbs Up: I've always enjoyed the work of Colin Farrell and Josh Hutcherson and their voice acting on this film was well done. Amanda Seyfried gave a great performance as the grieved and troubled MK. Christoph Waltz looked to have had some fun as Mandrake. Beyoncé Knowles came across as a great and wise queen. The comedy tag team of Aziz Ansari and Chris O'Dowd definitely did a lot to amuse. Though some of the different accents thrown in at different places and not always consistently so did jar a little in places.
Of course one of the most fun characters in the film had no voice at all - Ozzie - the three legged, one eyed, old pug.
2) Artwork/Animation - Total Thumbs Up: Blue Sky Studios did an awesome job with the look of the film. From the gorgeous hummingbirds to the wilting of plants, the detail was astounding. Seeing the leafs and plants used as clothes, flying boats, and moving doors made the world of the forest really come alive with wonder. The scenes of Queen Tara arriving at the small lake in her flying ship and then stepping on the lily pads were gorgeous.
Inversely, watching the rot arrows deform the tree limbs, wilt leaves, and other destruction were also quite impressive. Mandrake's home was the essence of decay.
3) Plot/Story - Thumbs Up: Overall the plot of the film worked, but wasn't necessarily outstanding. There were a few small surprises, though not many. We barely got a glimpse into the culture of the Leaf Men and those they protect, or even the structure of life in the forest, which would have given the plot more depth and context. The whole side business of betting and fixed bird races didn't mesh well with what little the audience was shown of the culture. Even the problems with Nod seemed forced and without any real substance. Late in the film, we find where Nod lost his father, it made no sense why Ronin and Nod's dad would have been there in the first place and it was never discussed. (If anything, it lent a dark undertone to what the two might have been up to at the time.)
I found the use of Ronin's name rather odd. Since the Leaf Men obviously followed many oriental ideals in the way they fought and lived, the fact they would give their commander a name meaning 'masterless samurai' seemed strange. Though with what happens to the queen, perhaps it was apt.
Another odd point was a thread pursued in three different prongs - the act of loving someone yet there being obstacles keeping you apart and no solution ever becoming apparent - the queen and Ronin, Grub and MK, MK and Nod. It's rather a depressing theme and seemed out of place in what was advertised as a combination action and comedy animated film.
Conclusion: EPIC wasn't so epic. And its name if one of the worst for a film ever. The animation is totally well worth watching. The film definitely had its moments, but it won't have you running off to tell all your friends about it. With all the birds, Grub and Mud, and Ozzie, there might be enough there to entertain the younger kids.
Rating: 3.5 out of 5 (Hubby's Rating: Better For Matinee)