Epic Review
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It wasn’t long ago that we could expect just one or two big animated movies a year. Disney ruled the animation kingdom, closely followed by DreamWorks. Today, every studio seems to have its own animation division (or maybe two)—and they’re all cranking out one good-looking animated film after another. The latest from Fox’s Blue Sky Studios (the studio behind the Ice Age films) is another natural adventure called Epic.

The ambitiously titled Epic follows a teenage girl on a journey through nature. After her mother dies, M. K. (voiced by Amanda Seyfried) is forced to leave the city and move to the middle of nowhere with her eccentric dad (Jason Sudeikis), who’s obsessed with the belief that an advanced society of tiny people lives in the forest near his home.

After just a few hours of her dad’s craziness, M. K. is ready to pack her bags and leave. But before she can make her getaway, she finds herself shrunken down and caught in the middle of a battle to save the natural world from decay.

Based on a book by William Joyce (who also wrote the book that inspired Rise of the Guardians), Epic is another imaginative animated fantasy for kids. The animation is stunning—especially as M. K. and her new friends soar through the forest on the backs of friendly birds. Kids will love this magical, hidden world, where tiny people work to keep nature in full bloom—and they’ll love the silly characters, like Aziz Ansari’s Mub the slug.

Part of the appeal for grown-ups, meanwhile, is the film’s massive all-star voice cast, which is sure to inspire a fun but somewhat distracting game of Spot the Famous Voice. Some of the performances are perfectly natural—like Colin Farrell as the head Leafman, Ronin, or Christoph Waltz as the villainous Mandrake. Others, however, stick out like a sore thumb—like Beyoncé’s brief but rather awkward performance as Queen Tara.

The story also falls short of the film’s rather presumptuous title. For the most part, it’s just an animated Honey, I Shrunk the Kids with a natural twist. The set-up is dubious, and the action tends to meander due to a lack of direction and an overabundance of characters. At the same time, though, it handles the balance of light and dark quite well—so neither Waltz’s humorless villain nor Ansari’s silly slug feels out of place.

Epic certainly isn’t the most memorable animated film of the year. In fact, the story is almost entirely forgettable. But the striking animation and the likable characters make it worth a rainy-day rental.

Blu-ray Review:
The Blu-ray release of Epic comes complete with loads of interesting—and educational—extras. After your kids explore the miniature world of Moonhaven, they’ll probably want to learn a little more about the natural world around them—and the film’s special features menu is a pretty good place to start. Extras like Bugs of Camouflage, Rot Rocks, and Birds, Bugs, and Slugs will teach young viewers more about the creatures and life cycles found in the world around them. Here, they’ll learn about everything from caterpillars and hummingbirds to the importance of rot and decay.

Or, for a little more about the movie itself, there’s the seven-part making-of feature, Mysteries of Moonhaven Revealed, which goes behind the scenes to explore the world of Epic, its cast and characters, and the tiny setting.

The film may not be a must-see, but the natural setting could inspire your little ones to explore the Great Outdoors—and the film’s extras will give them an extra little push. So, after you finish watching the movie, be sure to take a look at the special features menu.

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