Friday, August 16, 2013

Epic

***DISCLAIMER*** The following review is entirely my opinion. If you comment (which I encourage you to do) be respectful. If you don't agree with my opinion, that's fine. To each their own. These reviews are not meant to be statements of facts or endorsements, I am just sharing my opinions and my perspective when watching the film and is not meant to reflect how these films should be viewed. Finally, the reviews are given on a scale of 0-5. 0, of course, being unwatchable. 1, being terrible. 2, being not great. 3, being okay. 4, being great and 5, being epic! And if you enjoy these reviews feel free to share them and follow the blog or follow me on Twitter (@RevRonster) for links to my reviews and the occasional live-Tweet session of the movie I'm watching! Maybe the title is just trying to be ironic?




Epic – 2 out of 5

I hate to do a line that is mostly reserved for syndicated snob newspaper critics but you would think that a film with a title like Epic would be less mediocre.

Based on the children’s book comically titled The Leaf Men and the Brave Good Bugs, Epic tales the tale of a miniature race of people that exist in the forest and dedicate their lives to protecting all its nature-y goodness from the evil Boggans. The Queen of the forest (voiced by BeyoncĂ© Knowles) decides it’s time to choose an heir but as she is about to do so, the Boggans (who are evil despite having a name that sounds like some sort of British cuisine), led by their dark leader; Mandrake (Christoph Waltz), come in to claim the heir as their own and make it a dark prince that will leave the forest flooded in death and decay. Now it’s up to the no-nonsense leader of the Leafmen; Ronin (Colin Farrell), an idealistic former Leafman (Josh Hutcherson), the daughter of an eccentric scientist who ended up accidentally getting shrunk and is now forced into this adventure (Amanda Seyfried) and a couple of slugs (voiced by Aziz Ansari and Chris O’Dowd) to try and protect all that is green and alive.


This is the big one!  You hear that, Elizabeth? I'm coming to join you, honey!

When this movie was on its way to the theaters I literally had no fucking clue what the hell it was about because the trailers and commercials seemed incredibly reluctant to give any hints to its story…they just really liked showing that part where the fruit fly ages in front of you and dies. After actually sitting down to watch the film, I realize why they didn’t divulge any of the story because, it turns out, it’s just really ridiculous—I glossed over it but for the Queen to pick a new heir, she had to pick from a host of flower buds and if that bud blooms in darkness, the heir becomes evil—like I said, kinda ridiculous but it’s a kid’s movie so I’m cutting it some slack (after all, I’m a fan of a piece of fiction that involves a man dressing up as a bat to fight crime).

Well played, Epic.  He is dressed like a bat...


However, it’s possible that this misdirection might have also had to deal with the film is sort of messy and poorly put together and rehashes pro-environmental themes that probably would have been better received in the 90s than today (after all, Conservatives say climate changes is bullshit and that if the temp is changing, it’s because God did it). Seriously, FernGully did the themes in this film better…hell, I hate to admit it but…*sigh*…god damn Avatar did a better job at delivering a “save the planet” message than this film did.


Somewhere, Pixar is laughing and saying, "Nice effort, Fox."


Despite having decent animation and an occasionally funny moment (very occasionally—I think I only chuckled twice), this movie is a pretty poor excuse for a family animated film. With all the greatness Pixar churns out and even, to a slightly lesser degree, DreamWorks crafts, this film can’t hold a candle to the industry standard that is currently behind held in this Golden Age of animated movies. The film does a really bad job of introducing and developing all the characters and utterly failed at making me even give a single solitary shit about the journey our heroes were on. Why did I not care? All of the characters were one-dimensional archetypes that I’ve seen a million times in films and I’ve seen them done better elsewhere.


Give up, you'll never find the shit I'm suppose to be giving about this film.

"I'll be back, I'm late for my jaw-square-er-ing."
You have the comic relief that offers very little comedy (the slugs), the fish out of water (Seyfried’s character of Mary Katherine), the loose cannon who doesn’t play by the rules (Hutcherson’s character of Nod) and the tough, by-the-books, squared-jaw leader (Ronin). Furthermore, I understood the mission they were on but the film really didn’t do much to really make me feel like they were in any real sense of peril or even a remote possibility they would lose. To put it bluntly, this film did absolutely nothing to make me care about these characters and I can’t imagine that any kids watching the film would find themselves caring at all either...but there’s a lot of pretty colors going on here and that’s enough for the kids (because kids are stupid, we known this).

Just think about this for a second...this little guy had to kill a bat and skin it
to get his bat-cape he's wearing.  At his size, the bat and him are roughly the same height.
Just let that act sink in for a second...


The worst part (and most distracting to me) had to have been the cast that was decided on to bring life to the animated characters. There are plenty of examples of great actors who seemed perfect for their roles; like Colin Farrell seemed tailor made to be Ronin and Christoph Waltz (who is a fantastic actor in general) is great as the villain Mandrake (although, I admit, it took some warming up for me to appreciate him in the role). Also Chris O’Dowd and Aziz Ansari are terrific as the slugs and provide some of the film’s only amusing moments but for each of these, there are a plethora of other actors who either didn’t bring much to their role or were completely wrong for the film.

Mary Katherine could have literally been voiced by any female and it probably would have been cheaper for the film’s budget to hire a professional voice actor as Amanda Seyfried literally did nothing to stand out in her performance. The same can be said of the character of Nod as Josh Hutcherson was clearly only brought in so they could get that sweet tween cash and get the hordes of girls in love with Peeta into the theater. Then you have BeyoncĂ© as the Queen who was only put in the film so they could have a song by her play over the credits (however, I have to say this, this movie actually had an original song in it and I can’t remember the last time I watched an animated movie and heard an original song and NOT some bad pop song they licensed for use).


Of course, the song was "All the Single Forests" so the effort may have been
phoned it.  


Things only get worse as the movie sticks with giving voice acting work to undeserving musicians as Pitbull provides the voice for a frog that has about a total of 3 minutes of screen time and a half a dozen lines. There was literally no reason to have Pitbull in this film. It’s not like he’s a good voice actor (he really isn’t, he sounded lost and like he barely had a grasp on the human language...I'm telling you, he's an alien from beyond the stars) and by hiring a well-known (and most likely expensive) name like the man who is now known mostly for being the guy who has a song on a Fiat commercial and is the guy trying to look cool and master human-like motion in Bud Light commercials (he's an ALIEN!) this film basically deprived work from actually talented voice actors who are losing jobs to guys like this.

"...and then DreamWorks showed up with their thugs..."


More voice actors were put out of work in order to, mysteriously, give a role to Steven Tyler. Tyler plays a worm that knows all about the heir process and the frontman to Aerosmith could not have been the worst choice for the role. Tyler may have a sort of iconic voice (that is best known when playing lame rock songs like “Ragdoll” and singing about having a boner for a guy that looks like a chick) but he’s not a voice actor and it’s painfully obvious as he keeps the same tone and pitch with every line he gives. I could almost hear the collective cries of all the talented people who work on our most beloved cartoon shows wailing when they heard the singer of “Love in an Elevator” was taking food from their plate and money out of their pockets. Shit, John DiMaggio—the amazing voice actor best known for being Bender and Jake from Adventure Time—was in the film as a side character. It would have been better for the film if they just abandoned the man who only aging housewives care about anymore and put someone with acting talent in his place.

Shit, whoever did the voice of that one-eyed, three-legged dog could have done
better than Steven Tyler.


Beyond that, Tyler (like many of the players in this film) just don’t fit the role they are in and there becomes a disconnect as the voice doesn’t look like it matches the body and character. He may be the singer in a shitty rock band but Tyler just doesn’t have the voice of a glow worm. Of course, the film was produced by 20th Century Fox and Tyler was a judge on American Idol, so his inclusion is, no doubt, a contractual obligation.


Steven Tyler's character, seen here holding the exact amount of talent the real
Steven Tyler has.


I love animated movies because the sheer artistry that comes from making them is awe inspiring. That is one thing this movie does well as the animation looks really good. However, it’s in nearly every other aspect that this film just doesn’t look like it’s trying. There are only a few examples of the voice acting being good and, despite being called Epic and having the promise of action, the action sequences are as flat and as boring as the characters and the story.

"Whoo!  Now this is podracing--or whatever the fuck I am doing right now!"


Epic is an animated movie I would only turn on in order to distract some youths for an hour or so (although, I’m not entirely sure it would distract them). I couldn’t find myself feeling a single thing for the characters and, even though it was a major theatrical release, the film felt more like a big budget Direct-to-DVD film that you find in the bargain bin. Sure the film will tell you that over a million work hours were put in to make this film but when the end product feels like a budget release (only with better animation) you have to wonder if, maybe, it would have helped the product if some of those work hours went into the script and when deciding the final cast. 

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