Despite the killer cast, I didn’t catch Epic in the cinemas, and I didn’t regret that. The trailer, mixing FernGully with Honey I Shrunk the Kids while centring the piece on the oh-so-witty dialogue of the most plain-looking female protagonist I think I’ve ever seen in animation and a romantic lead that looked like the offspring of Robert Pattinson and an Easter Island head, did absolutely nothing for me, so I thought it should be one I leave until I see it on a plane. Which worked out quite well, because that’s what I did. On our trip to
it was one of the (vaguely) new films on offer.
It was what I expected it to be – a bit clinical and charmless, but entertaining enough all the way through to be very watchable. Nothing that will have a big impact or take Fox into the truly big leagues of feature animation, but also not an embarrassment. So in-keeping with Chris Wedge’s other films.
A young woman who is feeling an emotional disconnection from her ‘stranger’ of a father because of his utter obsession with catching fairies becomes shrunk down and involved in an apparently epic confrontation between the ‘Leafmen’, who guard the queen of the forest, and the Boggans who wish to see everything rot. The queen has been gravely injured and is passing her power on through a pod, which young M.K., uptight Ronin and wildcard Nod have to protect. If it blooms in the moonlight of the solstice, the forest is saved, but if it blooms in darkness...
It’s predictable stuff, but spiced up by some lively performances – Colin Farrell doing his best noble Irish warrior, Christoph Waltz finally getting to do a full-out hammy bad guy yet still introducing nuance to the role, and Beyonce and Steven Tyler rocking up to steal their scenes. Then there’s a comic relief slug and snail duo, who manage to stay just on the right side of annoying, and also a crazy three-legged pug, which you can’t really go wrong with.
The trouble really was that perhaps excepting Colin Farrell, none of the major characters seemed to care very much what they were doing or believe in their lines. About the only character I rooted for, despite an initial distaste for the cutesy not-far-from-Alice-in-Wonderland personified flowers, was the young flower girl enamoured with the Queen, who despite having an important role in the grand scheme of things barely gets 5 lines – but does them with a real infectious enthusiasm.
It would be more interesting to see the film actually deal with the ideas of fathers wasting their lives and failing to be good parents, and with its multiple strands coming together rather better, but ultimately, it just about satisfied.