Animated films these days are getting better and better. From “Toy Story” to “Epic“, these films are becoming more than just “cartoons for the big screen”. Allow me to state clearly, I am not a fan of the “Ice Age” franchise. I cannot abide the lazy-mouth voice-over work by John Leguizamo as the sloth. And I don’t like the art work. Just my opinion, but it looks very juvenile. May that’s the way the artist’s wanted it? Who knows? Regardless, not my cup of tea. Pixar has been making masterpieces though with movies like “Up” and each of the “Toy Story” films. I haven’t seen “Planes” or “Monsters University” yet, but I am sure I will before long.
“Epic” is from the creatures of “Ice Age”, so I was not optimistic. However, it was better than expected. The whole estranged father-daughter relationship was barely developed. The 3-legged dog was a quirky touch, but cute. There was an awesome Queen of the Forest that SHOULD have been a Disney princess kind of character – seriously Disney, how did you miss this opportunity? She was voiced by Beyonce – which was a little odd (and she ain’t in the film long) but she was awesome for the time she was in the film! There’s an obvious attempt at a romantic storyline (which doesn’t ever get off the ground too well). There’s the silly comedic relief courtesy of a slug and a snail. And the villains look fairly gnarly.
That’s the quick brush-over of the film. Nothing too memorable there.
The filmmakers kind of missed 3 things in looking at “Epic”. #1) If you want to do a love story, take the time onscreen to develop it and focus in on it. #2) If you have some mystical fascinating thing happen to the main character in which she magically shrinks to become the size of the “tiny people’, please EXPLAIN WHY. #3) When presenting villains that are out to rot the entire forest – allowing you an opportunity to speak to deforestation of this planet – please take the time to delve into it.
These are the areas where “Epic” failed. It could have been so much more of a film had they just focused on one of those 3 things and taking their time with it. But no, the filmmakers decided to throw all of it into the film blender and hit “HIGH”. Sadly, the end result is a film that you can see had potential, but failed to complete its noble quest.
It’s times like these that I wish I could have been in the focus group or test audiences to screen the film. If you want to say the villains are bad because they are out to turn the green, growing world of the forest to ash and rot, then don’t tell us – SHOW US. Don’t say they are part of the balnce of all life and then portray them as “the bad guys”. If they are part of the balance in nature, then I think you are A) shooting WAY over the heads of the younger audiences, or B) you have confused the adults that care about the story. (I fall into the latter category…I think.)
So, instead of developing a love story and throwing some song & dance numbers a la’ Disney, they only sort of dance around the perimeter of it. You have the main characters kiss before it is over, making us foolish audience members think this is going somewhere, and then you have them return to their normal lives. Oh, I did forgot to mention that normal for these two would be 1 is now a giant “stomper” and the other is a wee tiny “leaf man”.
Okay, so they failed on the love story. They failed at presenting a proper villain in any clear-cut manner. They delivered only so-so on the comedy, and the rest is fairly cliche’. So, what are you left with? Not much unfortunately. Like I said, it had potential, but it just didn’t complete itself. Get this though, the film was estimated to have a $100 million budget…and it grossed just over it’s budget. How sad is that? For that much money, you should be turning in something pretty …epic.
…and that’s it for this edition of THE REEL VOICE.