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JLFM's Movie Reviews (152)

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Not Epic, but Not Bad Either
2.5/4 stars

There is some truth to the saying "You can't judge a book by its cover," but at the same time, it doesn't always apply. In the case of Epic, I got exactly what I anticipated; a generic kids' fantasy film, with not an original bone its body. And yet (perhaps this is where that old saying comes into place), this is hardly a the trudge I thought it would be. Despite its many flaws, Epic is a fairly entertaining fantasy film. It's practically guaranteed to enthrall children, and will give their parents or babysitter a chance to nap, or perhaps watch and find themselves mildly engaged.

The premise of Epic is that there is a secret, hidden world, just outside, where flowers can walk and talk, bugs can likewise speak and thrive, and there are little tiny people that look just like us. A girl named Mary Katherine (she goes by M.K.), is skeptical of this world (though her eccentric father has devoted his life to the subject), but she quickly believes when she is shrunk down to the size of these tiny people, and gets involved in a matter of life and death, good and evil. She is now on a quest, and is accompanied by a stern general named Ronin, an independent young man named Nod, and two slugs named Mub and Grub.

Epic certainly gets off to a bit of a slow start. In fact, the first half of the movie did little to nothing to entertain me. The generic story and plot, and weak characters hardly engaged me, and while it wasn't disastrously bad, Epic was shaping up to be a relatively boring experience.

However, it pleases me to say that the second half of the film is significantly better than the first. The gags are stronger, the characters are a bit more likable, and the production is far more entertaining as a whole. The story is still familiar and old, and I wouldn't expect anything to really surprise you, but as far as generic fantasy films go, you could do worse.

One of the best elements of this film is the relationship between M.K. and her nutty father, as well as the (admittedly few) scenes regarding M.K.'s parents separating. These scenes are surprisingly thoughtful, and even a bit touching, and provide an emotional backbone that's necessary for almost any film- animated or not- to really work.

Some of the most amusing bits involve the two slugs, Mub and Grub. While they're irritating at first, they begin to grow on you. Indeed, by the end of the film, I found myself (somewhat guiltily) laughing at their jokes.

The voice cast does their job, but one wouldn't be wrong to have hoped for more out of such a star-studded cast. Surprisingly enough, the best performance of the film comes from (Lord help me) Beyoncé Knowles as Queen Tara. Her part is played surprisingly meaningfully, and her role remains one of the few memorable characters in this film. Also notable is Jason Sudeikis as Professor Bomba; M.K.'s father.

Danny Elfman's score is good fun at times, though it's not especially memorable. There are some fun moments of inspired instrumentation, and while I wouldn't rank it among his best work, it's still a joy to hear Elfman in his element- which is, of course, fantasy films.

The place where Epic really excels is in animation. Some shots are simply stunning, and it's always pretty to look at. This might be one of the best looking animated film I've seen that hasn't come from Pixar or Disney.

If you're looking for an animated film to keep your kids occupied for an hour and forty minutes, Epic should suffice. It's not likely to entertain adults as much as the efforts of Pixar, Disney, or even Dreamworks, but if you can excuse the extremely familiar story (and the slow first half), you'll find that this is far from the worst of the childrens film crowd.

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