Wednesday, May 29, 2013

Epic (2013)

Epic surprised me immensely. I went in with low expectations and left uplifted and very entertained. Epic is the rare movie that is advertised for children, yet not insulting to the adults accompanying the kids. I went to see this movie with a group assembled of all ages, and everyone found something to love. Hopefully the beauty of this movie is a sign of things to come from Blue Sky Animation.

The film introduces us to two very different worlds which are both connected, and it is delightful to watch how the two become joined. Bomba (voiced by Jason Sudeikis) is an eccentric nature investigator, constantly checking his surveillance equipment for signs of miniature life in the forest surrounding his remote home. Thankfully he is not the main character of the film, because he is quite a bumbler, as his name suggests. It is his daughter, Mary Katherine, (or M.K. as she prefers to be called, voiced by Amanda Seyfried) a well-developed teenage heroine who arrives after the sudden death of her mother that will bring us through the worlds of the film. The painful subject of the loss of a parent is only hinted at and never referenced directly by any of the characters, and appropriately so. This movie is filled with wonder and action, and more than a dose of humor.

In the miniature world of the forest, the keepers of all that is thriving in nature, the Queen Tara (voiced by Beyonce Knowles) is preparing to pass the torch to a new little girl. Everyone has gathered for the pod ceremony during which Tara will send forth the power of growth to bloom during the full moon, yet, all is not as it should be. The nemesis of the film, a surprisingly dark king of decay, Mandrake, voiced by the phenomenal Christoph Waltz, sabotages the ceremony and Tara passes the power onto a very unlikely person - M.K.

From there the audience is whisked away ala Honey I Shrunk The Kids style shrinkage, and we follow M.K. as she meets her new companions for the journey of bringing the pod to bloom. It is now her responsibility to do so, though she doesn't know why she was chosen. Colin Farrell voices Ronin, the stern soldier who had a relationship with Tara and is now mourning her loss. On the opposite end of the spectrum is Nod, voiced brilliantly by Josh Hutcherson of The Hunger Games, who is a rebellious soldier in training, learning how to be responsible and valiant as he accompanies M.K. Also as the comic relief are the slug and the snail, Mub (Aziz Ansari) and Grub (Chris O’Dowd), who provide an abundance of laughs that never feel like they were thrown in just for the sake of a shallow gag.

The comedy is woven throughout the narrative, and when it takes you by surprise, it’s a breath of fresh air that counters the character’s inner wounds and family issues. One laugh in particular involved Mub and Grub at a party where they ask a fruit fly what it’s like to have such a short life span. The fly, starting as a child, ages within ten seconds, ending as an elderly fly and then falls over, succumbing to the circle of life. I grew up in the woods, and still live there because of its beauty - and I saw many naturally occurring events in Epic that morph into the unseen acts of the little people. It was fascinating, and a world I wanted to spend more time in. The film's creators even find a good usage for video-chatting by the end of the story that had me chuckling.

If you have children, or are a child at heart, Epic is the movie for you. It reminds us to appreciate the rejuvenating power of nature and that if we fight for it and team up together, no darkness can overtake the world’s natural beauty. We are responsible for protecting the natural world, even though sometimes we don't know why we were chosen.