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With a name like "Epic", it has to be big, or at least it should be. I was only afraid that "Epic" would be the Michael Bay of animated movies. Following "Iron Man 3" and "Star Trek: Into Darkness" in its release date and opening the same week of "The Hangover 3" and "Fast and Furious 6", it is certainly up against big competition. Fortunately, that wasn't what I saw. What I saw was an adventure of thought-provoking depth that did exactly what I love most in movies; it took me to another world and kept me there until the credits rolled.

Mary Katherine or M.K. (Amanda Seyfried) is a character who has a distant relationship with her father and is still feeling the effects of the death of her mother. Her father has been buried in his research and there is a lot of animosity between them. He is convinced that there is a tiny culture of beings inhabiting the forest that surrounds their home. There are some deep subjects in the movie that may go over some children's heads, as well as some non-charismatic moments from Collin Farrell's Character, Ronin, which may bore you and your child to death.

Honestly though, I liked that there was some complexity to it. While the movie incorporated the things that have made other Blue Sky Studios movies ("Ice Age", "Rio" & "Robots") hits with all ages, it also had a depth and imagination to it that reminded me of movies like "The Dark Crystal", "Labyrinth" and "The Never Ending Story".

It is easy to say that "Epic" is possibly one of the most beautifully animated 3D movies I've seen to date. Again, the 3D adds to the, dare I say, epicness of the film. Nestled in the yards and woods is an epic world of Leafmen and Boggans that control the life and death of nature as we know it. The 3-dimensional world comes to life as we explore a world on the backs of hummingbirds and see streams, trees, springs and tunnels up close.

There's a little something missing with "Epic" though. There's almost a dryness that leaves some of the emotions flat and never truly capitalizes on the urgency we should feel as an audience. It wasn't hard connecting with M.K. but she too easily adapts to the task she is given and despite not knowing how she will return to normal life, she seems to go ahead without emotion; fear, joy or anything otherwise. That being said, the slug and snail characters added much needed comic relief.

I do recommend "Epic" because I enjoyed myself. Although if the writers had spent less time hammering home the nuts and bolts of the miniature world culture, which we understood in the first twenty minutes of the film, they could have spent more time making a better ending to the film and fleshing out some true and more widespread emotion. It could have been a better film, but that's not saying it wasn't more entertaining than most of the stuff out there these days.
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on August 16, 2013
Admittedly, they could've come up with a better name for the movie, but "Epic" is by far one of the better animated movies you'll see this decade. It's a shame that it didn't receive as much in the box office, probably due to the other movies that came out around the time. A fresh film in a sea of sequels never gets the exposure it deserves. Even so, I HIGHLY recommend this film to anyone, children and adults alike.
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on May 26, 2013
Simply put: The animation was beyond beautiful. It was seriously a good, clean, fun and all around awesome family movie. I can't think of anything bad about it.
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on June 21, 2013
This movie was a big hit with my family (husband and 3 kids - 8-year old girl, 6-year old boy, 6-year old girl.) Part of the appeal is that it is one of the few animated films that seems equally targeted to girls and boys - there are both a main girl and boy character, and just a tad of romance, but not so much for this to be a 'married happily ever after' princess type story. The nature animation is stunning, as is the view of the fairy world, and the human world seen from the fairy perspective. I loved the story (tho have not read the book so can't compare) and felt it was all carried off very well. Recommend!
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This review is based on going to see "Epic" in the cinema with my family.

"Epic" is a beautifully created animated family film based on William Joyce's book "The Leaf Men and the Brave Good Bugs (Harper Trophy Books). It is rather like a better execution of the same basic idea as "Arthur & The Invisibles" except that in this case the whole film is animated where "Arthur and the invisibles" had the human-size portions played by real actors and the miniature sections animated. Ironically that means that, this film having a star studded voice cast, several of whom are extremely easy on the eye, the film does not show them as they usually appear: but the characters are so beautifully drawn that you don't really mind.

Case in point: the heroine and central character, Mary Katherine (who prefers to be known as MK) is voiced by actress Amanda Seyfried and the queen of the forest, Queen Tara, is voiced by Beyonce Knowles. I imagine one or two dads would much prefer to have seen the ladies concerned rather than animated images for which they provided the voices. But that reaction won't have lasted more than a few seconds after seeing how well their characters were voiced and drawn. Christian Kaplan who did the casting for this film obviously did pick the cast for their voices rather than their appearance, they more than justify the choice.

MK is a teenage girl whose mother has recently died. At the start of the film she arrives at the semi-derelict house, on the edge of a forest, where her father, mad scientist Professor Bomba (Jason Sudeikis) lives and studies the fauna of the forest. Bomba had wrecked both his career and his marriage through his obsessive attempts to prove that an "advanced civilisation" of tiny people exists in the forest.

It probably won't be a spoiler to anyone thinking of going to see this film - certainly not to anyone who has seen the trailer - that Bomba's apparently preposterous theory, which no other human takes seriously, is in fact correct. Nor that his daughter finds herself magically shrunk to the same size as the tiny denizens of the forest - and caught up in the constant war between two factions of forest creatures.

Although some of the less intelligent promotional material for this film presents that conflict as a battle between good and evil - and I have seen it wrongly suggested that the battle in the forest might also affect our world as well - the actual presentation in the film is a lot more nuanced than this. One side, led by Queen Tara (Beyonce Knowles) and her "leaf men" soldiers, represents growth, the other led by Mandrake (Christoph Waltz) and his "boggan" troops represent decay. Children or anyone else who wants to take a simple moral from the film will see Queen Tara's side as representing good while Mandrake is evil, but adults will realise that the life of the forest would actually depend on a balance between the two.

Indeed, one of the best things about the film is that the "bad guy," Mandrake, is not cartoonishly and two-dimensionally evil. Like the most dangerous villains in the real world or the best literature Mandrake is all the more formidable as an opponent because he has characteristics which in a "good guy" would be recognised as virtues. Instead of going down the all-too-familiar route of presenting the villain as being pathetic, cowardly, and full of hatred even to those closest to him, the film gives Mandrake a lot of the best lines, shows both him and his son and general Dagda (Blake Anderson) leading from the front at various stages of the film, and doesn't show them constantly plotting to betray each other.

Other strong and well voiced characters which enrich the film include Ronin (Colin Farrell) the general of the Leaf men, Nod (Josh Hutcherson), an independent minded young leafman whose dead father had been Ronin's friend, a pair of sometimes charming and sometimes aggravating molluscs, Mub the slug (Aziz Ansari) and Grub the snail (Chris O'Dowd), and a glow-worm impresario called Nim Galuu (Steven Tyler) who is also the keeper of the magic scrolls which record everything which goes on in the forest. The film also features the rapper Armando Pérez, better known by his stage name Pitbull, voicing a frog mafia boss.

Every time I go to see a new animated film I think the depiction of the characters, scenery and events could not get any more beautifully done, and every time you get to the next one you realise you were wrong, and this film is yet another visual feast. The plotting is also reasonably tight, keeping your attention, there are plenty of simple jokes for the kids and more sophisticated ones for the adults. It had me laughing at the jokes quite a few times.

Not everyone will like this film - some people will see it as far too similar to "Arthur and the Invisibles" and others will consider it a bit twee and childish. But I would consider it a very good film for children up to the age of about thirteen - my eleven-year-old daughter certainly loved it - and which adults can enjoy with their kids.
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TOP 500 REVIEWERon August 23, 2013
Naming your very film "Epic" is a tall order. The word "epic" suggests sweeping scope, grand action, and impossible odds. But EPIC is about a race of little people 5 inches tall. It's highest stakes are the survival of a patch of forest and the size of a 16 year old girl. Is EPIC epic?

No, not really. The scope is not all that grand, the screenplay is a derivative mash of other movies (Part Arthur & Invisibles, part Ferngully: The Last Rainforest). The film lacks the inspiration and the ingenuity that makes Pixar so great, the entertaining characters of Disney, but comes up close with DreamWorks in terms of lush atmosphere and beautiful animation (Is it just me, or is DreamWorks on a roll with How to Train Your Dragon, Kung-fu Panda 2, and The Croods?). I've never really LOVED Blue Sky Studios. I mean, the first ICE AGE is entertaining, but ROBOTS, HORTON HEARS A WHO, and the ICE AGE sequels were really hit-or-miss. RIO was fun and colorful, and like EPIC, beautifully animated, but Blue Sky has yet to combine heart, humour, excellent animation, and a great plot. Still, Epic impressed me in several ways, and I will go over them below.

So those are my cons. That and Beyoncé, whose voice performance is woefully out of place.

But as I said above, EPIC impressed me. It is the most gorgeously animated, beautifully drawn, lush, atmospheric, detailed, visually stunning animated film I have seen all year. The detail put into the costumes, down to the clasps and buckles, harnesses, and jewelery is simply incredible. The characters are beautifully designed and rendered, behaving naturally and realistically. The proportions are realistic, and the animation of the lush green trees and sparkling streams will take your breath away. A small scene with a deer will take your breath away. I give the film extra points for being the most colorful, breathtakingly animated children's film I've seen in a long time.

The voicework, too, is superb. Amanda Seyfried and Josh Hutcherson are excellent as human teen Mary-Katherine (who goes by MK) and the reckless Nod. The supporting cast, which include Steven Tyler, Pitbull, and Jason Sudeikis are beyond criticism, but the two standout roles are that of Colin Farrell and Christoph Waltz, who imbibe their cool characters with charisma, emotion, and energy. Farrell plays Ronin, the sword-wielding, hummingbird-flying, bottom-kicking head of the "Leafmen", while Waltz plays the surprisingly sympathetic and fully-fleshed villain - Mandrake.

Other areas where EPIC succeeds is the typically-good Danny Elfman score (he's never bad!), the action, in which "Boggans" and "Leafmen" fight with surprisingly real and devastating consequences, and the presence of two incredibly cute snails, who give the much-needed levity.

In conclusion, EPIC might not be as epic as it thinks it is, nor as original or inspired, but as a gorgeously animated, character-strong animated film that provides kids with good role-models and messages, while entertaining them with "epic" conflicts and amazing visuals...it ain't half bad! My rating? Four pods out of five.
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on August 24, 2013
Epic (well, NOT-Epic might be a little closer to the truth) Bowling for Movies Score: 147 of 300

Bowling for Movies is a score that I, just your average dude (hereafter referred to as The Movie Dude), have come up with to rate and score movies. I gotta lot time on my hands and I watch movies - many MANY movies. Using the latest technology and a mixture of pseudo and quasi science, I have developed a formula using chili dog sauce and kettle corn (which literally has nothing to do with bowling) to capture the pure essence of Hollywood magic... displayed as a score ranging from 0 to 300. A score of 108 would be a "just ok, not particularly good / bad" movie, where a score of 192 would tell you it was a very good movie. Now, break 200 and you've got something really special. Throwing too many "gutterballs" will land you under 100 and well - you get the idea. :]

Epic - we own the 3D Blu Ray combo pack

Movie Explanation (no-there is too much, let me sum up):
A teenage girl gets more than she bargains for when, by chance, she is drawn into a secret society of little people known as Leafmen who are involved in maintaining a sacred magical balance that keeps the forest alive. Having been transformed into a pint-sized heroine, M.K. must help the Leafmen save the day in this fish-out-of-water story loosely based on a popular children's book.

Bowling Score Breakdown:

Strikes (what I loved)
I need to be blunt - this movie had the best CGI animation I think I have ever seen. EVERY detail on EVERY leaf on EVERY tree was wonderfully, carefully, and lovingly placed. The characters were rendered to near photo-realism. I would pay money to simply have been able to walk around the forest and interact with creatures therein... wondrous to behold! We watched the movie in 3D and here I have to tell you, the film visuals were incredible - no ghosting, no blurry side shots, simply done to perfection. These guys know how to animate a feature film. Academy Award level animation here.

Spares (what I liked)
Adding to the stunning visuals is a good soundtrack which isn't too surprising - when Danny Elfman is around, good music follows. He's like, the man.

Gutterballs (what I didn't like)
I hate to say it - there were several gutterballs in this movie. It's sad because there was so much going right in the animation department but... the story was weak, watered down, and uninspiring. "Epic" is really a misnomer, the story was a bad mix of eco-warrior action, silly `unlikely friend' humor, Disney-esque dead parent sadness, and back to the action/adventure - all strung together in a ho-hum, let's get to the end already tale. I started looking at my watch 20 minutes in which is not good because this movie had such potential. I know this eco-warrior theme is all the rage right now but it's been done (and better). I'd say this movie would prove interesting to kids in the 7-10 age bracket which is pretty thin. Besides this I just have to tell you - I can remember a day when kid's movies had boy heros and those seem to be a rare beast these days. I have a daughter (hereafter called Little Miss Movie Dude) so I am totally down with the girl lead in the story idea but it seems like we have been inundated with princess type movies for well over a decade - it might be interesting, cinematically, if Hollywood was a little more equal opportunity, just saying. We could be doing better than this and I think it would help freshen up these 'been there, done that' stories.

Hey, if you have a question about this review, feel free to leave a comment and I will try to answer promptly. I will be leaving more movie reviews with bowling scores so check out my other reviews. Bowling for Movies is in no way affiliated with Amazon nor do I have a website or other business interest - I'm just a dude who watches movies (and dabbles in quasi/pseudo-science) :] Want me to review a movie and score it in an Amazon review - I'd be happy to - if I have it, you'll get it.
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on August 24, 2013
We missed "Epic" at the theaters. But, we received the 3D BluRay yesterday on my Wife's birthday. Five adults hovering in front of the Sharp 70" Quatra, in the darkened room, with sunglasses. Quite a sight. BUT, more importantly ages 29 to 64 and we all enjoyed "Epic".

I tend to not over think the individual flaws of a film, but how it stands as an ensemble. Sometimes we don't agree with the logic of the story, but in the end, is the important issue is, was the story well told over all. Epic qualifies for "Story Well Told".

"Epic's" RIO genealogy shows though in the most positive ways. Beautiful to watch. Good vs. Evil, etc., and yes Good prevails. I'm certain all of my grandchildren will love it and their parents will approve.

As other have said, the animation is breathtakingly beautiful with amazing attention to detail. The 3D is NOT "in your face" but just enough to gain that extra degree of "being there". It was very tasteful. This is artful animation, not the CG live-action of Avatar. The 3D was just right for me, and the family agreed. The use of foreground vs back ground carried though even into the credits. KUDOs for being true to the 3D art form. This is a film you can forget it's in 3D until you turn the 3D off. Then you know it's missing. Just right...

We'll watch it over and over as each batch of kids and grownups circles through the house to watch in 3D or 2D as the groups prefer.

It will undoubtedly become a "standard" as sure as RIO, Ice Age, Robots, and other BlueSky animated films have. That reminds me, time to watch Robots again!

Thanks BluSky for thinking just enough out of the box.

My primary criticisms: "What's up with the title"? No wonder people didn't flock to see it. Too bad. Don't let the title put you off. The film could have just as easily be title" "Wonderful" or "Enchanting", which it was for us. My secondary criticism is the extra features are only on the 2D disk in the set. Surely the 3D didn't take up that much extra data on the disk, or maybe it did with the exceptional detail. Furthermore, this is a very complex project and I think there were many opportunities missed in the Extra features. They weren't the Extras you'll tell your friends about, etc.. like those found on Shrek and some other animated films. Oh wait!. Maybe I just figured out why they didn't bother to include them on the 3D disk.

Balance your life. Watch "Epic" with friends and family, then go out and enjoy the outdoors the Leafmen are protecting.

SRJ and family in Portland, OR
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TOP 500 REVIEWERon December 26, 2014
VIDEO (2D):

Epic arrives on blu-ray with MPEG-4 AVC (28 Mbps) 1080p 2.40:1 encode. Coming from Blue Sky Studios - the same production team behind the Ice Age series - it should come as no surprise that Epic looks fantastic on blu-ray. The presentation is bold, colourful and highly dimensional even in the 2D version. There is a lot of great detail and texture in the character designs and the surrounding forest world, like the almost palpable surface of flower petals, the weft of the professor's burlap satchel, the Leafmen's plated armor, M.K.'s wispy hair, and Mandrake's bat-pelt cloak. All of it is sharply rendered, with crisp lines and a vivid colour palette that - as expected - is heavy on forest greens and bright flowery hues. This is simply a flawless transfer. (5/5)

VIDEO (3D):

Epic arrives on blu-ray with MPEG-4 MVC (41 Mbps) 1080p 2.40:1 encode. Animation is always the best format for 3D blu rays and Epic is no exception. Epic does not use gimmicky 3D of forcing images off the screen, but instead, uses layers upon layers of material that extend the picture far into the background. All the positive points about bold colour and details are present, except now there is a definite depth and highly dimensional. The entire experience is quite natural. Thanks to the higher bit rate (41 Mbps instead of 28 in 2D), there is no loss in brightness and details. This presentation is natural and very pleasing. (5/5)

AUDIO:

The DTS-HD 7.1 Master Audio lossless track is highly energetic and very impressive. The sound design is carefully planned. There is the near-constant backdrop of forest ambience, to start, and in front of this are lively cross-channel movements that put the entire soundfield to good use: hummingbirds hovering and darting to and fro, Professor Bomba's three-legged dog running spastic loops around us, arrows zipping, bats swarming en masse, the aching crack of a falling tree and the resultant spray of dirt and leaves as it crashes down. There's rarely a dull moment. The vocal tracks are absolutely clean and clear. Danny Elfman's vaguely Irish-inspired score has great presence too - with lilting flute lines atop traditional orchestral sounds. The bonus is the song Rise Up by Beyonce Knowles (voice of Queen Tara) and Gonna Be Alright by Steven Tyler (voice of Nim Galuu). Also look for Pitbull (No. 1 single Timber with Ke$ha) as voice for Bufo, a bullfrog and businessman. (5/5)

TRIVIA:

1 Epic has an estimated budget of $93 million, but grossed $268 million.

2 Did you know that MK (Mary Katherine) is named for author William Joyce's daughter who died of a brain tumor on 11 May 2010 when she was 18 years old?

PURCHASE EXPERIENCE:

When Epic was first released in Canada, there was no 3D version available on Amazon.ca. The result of my enquiry about possible 3D version release on Amazon.ca was negative. Since I wanted the 3D version, I had to pay higher price from Amazon.com, with import duty, etc. Then, before Christmas, the 3D version suddenly appeared on Amazon.ca at a very low price too. Too bad!! I have a feeling that the same will apply to Frozen 3D, which is not available on Amazon.ca at this point! Be prepare to double dip in 2015.

FINAL THOUGHTS:

The story of Epic isn't the most unique, but it also isn't without its creative charm. The 3D blu ray set includes every possible digital format of the film (3D BD, 2D BD, DVD, Digital Copy and Ultraviolet)(please note that on Amazon.ca, 2D BD was mistakingly left out), it also comes with extracurricular family entertainment: a packet containing two sets of easy-to-grow seeds is included, that you can grow with your young children when the weather is warmer. I particularly enjoyed the video that fills up my 12 foot wide screen (using anamorphic lens), especially the 3D version. But if you don’t have a 3D TV, the 2D version is also very solid, with top-notched video/audio transfer. Both 3D and 2D are highly recommended.
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on August 13, 2013
The cinematography was excellent! Also, even though my wife and I are 55 years old, we still enjoy the animated movies as long as they have a story to them. This does. Obviously, this has an "environmentalist tone", but it is not overdone and does make you think about what we are doing to the forest but moreover, what we miss when we take a stroll through the forest. The best thing is the mosquitos are part of the bad guys!
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