Gregory G. H. Rihn (milwaukeesfs) wrote,
Gregory G. H. Rihn


We hadn't seen much advance information about the new animated movie "Epic," but went to see it on the strong recommendation of friends. I will second those recommendations.

"Epic" combines some very classical plot ideas, but manages to come up with something quite fresh. On the one hand, there is the situation of Mark Katherine, or "M.K.", (Amanda Seyfried), who is coming to live with her father after her mother's death. Father (Jason Sudekis)is a questionably sane science geek. His obsession with proving that a sophisticated society of little beings exists in the undergrowth of the New England forest is what has ruined his reputation and driven his wife and daughter away.

On the other hand, there IS such a society, which we find engaged in a deadly war between the forces of life and renewal, lead by Queen Tara (Beyoncé Knowles), and the forces of rot and decay, lead by Mandrake (Christoph Waltz). Mandrake is apparently insane as well, as, not appreciating that all things die as it is, and that rot and decay is the source of new life, he wants to extend his immediate dominion over all things NOW, which would result in disastrous disruption of the balance of nature.

Tara's people include the human-looking leaf men, plantoid people (called "jinns" in the credits), pretty birds and nice bugs. A snail, "Mub" (Aziz Ansari) and a slug, "Grub" (Chris O'Dowd)who provide the requisite comic relief for the good guys. Mandrake's people are called Boggans (think goblins from "The Hobbit" in horde quantities and two inches tall), and the usual creepy creature suspects like crows and bats.

Trying to catch the family dog (there are a number of "Wizard of Oz" references) M.K. steps into the middle of a crucial battle, and get shrunken down to two inch height when Tara calls on her for aid in her last extremity.

How M.K., the heroic Leaf Man leader "Ronin," (Colin Farrell) and the charming screw-up "Nod" (Josh Hutcherson) save the day takes up the greater part of the remainder of the film. The story, for all its basicness, is done with wit and charm, and some clever foreshadowings that we didn't see the significance of when they happened.

Perhaps more importantly, the movie is rich to look at. The micro-world of the forest is beautifully realized, and blends realistic, fantastic, and comic elements very nicely.

"Epic" is a pleasant, pretty, and ultimately sweet afternoon's entertainment. Recommended for all who can stand the intense action and scary creatures.

Besides, it has one of the best lines of the season: "I've got to go Heimlich my friend out of a slug."

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Tags: animation, fantasy, movies
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