Reviews: Epic

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Epic: Building a movie uniquely
Epic is an...interesting little movie. It's odd in some ways because it carries so many older movie cliques with it that it could easily fall flat if it wasn't executed well. Things like Those Two Guys, the parental disagreements, the fight for a mcguffin. The list goes on. HOWEVER, at the same time, it doesn't feel like that bad of a movie either. At least, not in the same way some other film might be.

For starters, the animation is absolutely gorgeous to view. Blue Sky really took its vegetation animation to a new level, creating a world kind of like how A Bugs Life looked, but with a little more darkness overall, and much sharper details. The fights are actually rather crisp, and the growth/forest magic is really cool to watch.

The other interesting thing is how it builds a plot and characters in different ways. The Badass Mentor might be a stiff, but it's repeatedly shown that his way of seeing things is actually a plausible one. The Lovable Rouge might be devilish and wanting to go his own way, but it's eventually shown that his duty is far more important than any freedom he might want. Those Two Guys are actually given a history and a reason to be along on the adventure, and despite being mostly there for goofball antics, they still bear witness to important plot points. And the father-daughter relationship isn't built on antagonism per se, but in the end it's shown that both of them have to make it up to each other. Dad needs to say sorry for pushing away his family in his obsession to find the leaf men, and MK's experience gives her a chance to say "sorry for doubting you."

The villain has a surprising amount of competence, setting up ambushes, amassing armies, finding out the flipside of the seed prophecy and (my absolute favorite) blotting out the moon with his own soldiers. His relationship with his (dead) son felt genuinely heartfelt, and it was actually a little sad he lost him.

However, my absolute favorite little thing I liked about epic is how it takes jokes and constructs plot around it. Things like slime, wanting to be a leaf man, slow talking stompers, wanting to be queen. All these jokes eventually become plot points, and I liked that they were able to construct a movie like that. It might not be the best of movies, but it's still a pleasant and enjoyable flick that I'd be happy to rewatch.
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Not as Epic as the title promised.
Epic is an utterly beautifully crafted film - the animation is stellar, the voice acting solid, and the soundtrack lovely. The plot, however, leaves plenty to be desired, and to put it bluntly: all the reviews that compared it to Fern Gully and Film/Avatar were correct - it tackles all-too-familiar themes, but unlike those films it fails to bring anything new to the whole eco-battle Balance Between Good And Evil schtick. Not only that, its archetypes are familiar as well: standard Plucky Girl heroine, absentminded dad, dashing Love Interest, cardboard evil villains, and Plucky Comic Relief Those Two Guys (who were horribly unfunny). This wouldn't be so bad by itself, but perhaps the reason I failed to form any emotional connection with those characters was precisely because I've seen them all before many, many times. Personally, my favorite part of the movie was Tara and Ronin, but we all know how well that went.

It suffered some pacing issues, as well - MK and Nod's romance was too rushed to feel genuine, and Steven Tyler's musical number as Nim Galuu felt a lot like a Big Lipped Alligator Moment. The villains get no development besides RAWR TAKE OVER FOREST. In the end, there wasn't even enough to make me stay past the final fadeout.

It might just be that the movie isn't geared towards my demographic, but I find the combination of all of the above to be a generic, predictable movie, with a lot of wasted potential that went nowhere.
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