Thursday, 30 May 2013


You don't get points for trying. Epic, the latest animated film from Blue Sky Studios, has only modest ambitions. There's action, a little romance, some comedy, big name voice talent and pretty animation. It achieves all of the above smartly and smoothly, and makes no efforts above nor beyond its duty. And yet, what potential lies herein. Glimpses of imagination, seeds of ideas which could have been nurtured and developed into something groundbreaking, something truly amazing. I recall a not-dissimilar film, Princess Mononoke, by Hayao Miyazaki, and it is one of my very favourite films. It too involves a protagonist thrust into a strange world at war, where nature battles itself to stay alive. There's action and romance there too, and an eco-message that's delivered with sense and communicated via stunning imagery. Epic possesses the same message, but abandons it in favour of the familiar beats of child-friendly action and dopey humour. Indeed, the message may be clear to those of us who have heard it a thousand times before, but if the intention was to get the next generation thinking about the importance of preserving our planet, then Epic is a pretty epic fail. The animation is mostly beautiful, with almost photo-real foliage and intricate backgrounds (not unlike Miyazaki, actually), but the character design is unmemorable, as indeed are the characters themselves. The A-list cast is just unnecessary - who cares whether or not that's Beyonce or that's Steven Tyler, it makes no difference, we can't see them! Scoring by Danny Elfman is a dime-a-dozen effort from the famous composer. I'll make one major concession - for some elusive reason, I did find the occasional gag very funny, despite finding most of them quite the opposite.