‘Epic’ review: Where’s the epic-ness?

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‘Epic’ a visual treat, but lacks substance

It’s not enough just to be pretty anymore. If it were, “Epic” might actually live up to its namesake. But when you lack a substantial plot, engaging characters or worthwhile scripting, even a world as visually lush and dynamic as the one “Epic” creates comes across as flat and one-dimensional.

A combination of “FernGully: The Last Rainforest” and “Ice Age” (not too surprising, given its creator, Chris Wedge, was at the helm of “Ice Age”), “Epic” brings us a Mother Nature fantasy story where a less-than-ecstatic teen visits her so-called delusional father in the woods. You see, he’s sure of the existence of a secret world. Problem is, no one believes him, which led to the ruin of his career, family and reputation.

Of course, that doesn’t stop him from being right. And wouldn’t you know it: that world is in trouble. So using some miniature magic, his daughter is shrunk to the size of a grasshopper in a bid to save the mini-world.

It’s creative enough (it’s based on a book by William Joyce), but it’s nothing groundbreaking. As noted, there are some apparent inspiration points. And is it strange to be somewhat put off because this isn’t a story about a princess saving the day? That’s bound to happen when all good animated films feature headstrong queens-to-be.

Either way, the graphical element is the star with the golden locks here. The backgrounds: beautifully rendered. The 3-D: not so obnoxious you want to burn your specialty glasses. The strong action sequences work well (lots of swords and arrows being flung around in the dense forest), and it’s entertaining enough with small jumpscares and a humorous slug-snail combo. And, as per normal, there is an extended, noisy, chaotic, action-packed climax that neatly wraps everything up.

But that’s as far as the praise can go.

The conflict of the story — bad guys want the forest to die, while good guys fight to stop said bad guys — has no true beginning or explanation, leaving you confused as to why this struggle is happening.

And the voiceovers leave you feeling like you fell into a bad cliche. Does the villain have to sound German (Christoph Waltz)? Or the leads (Amanda Seyfried and Josh Hutcherson) so adorable? And the distinctive voice of Beyonce as the forest queen? It’s a bit much.

(Speaking of, Beyonce does have a song in the movie: “Rise Up.” It plays during the credits, for some reason. It has a vibe similar to Leona Lewis’ “I See You,” which happened to play during “Avatar’s” credits scene.)

When it comes down to it, “Epic” simply lacks the engagement required to wrangle the attention of the little kids who are its target audience. And anyone older than, say, 8 is going to be bored. Even with its stunning animations, “Epic” is anything but.

Two less-than-epic stars out of five.

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