BLU-RAY REVIEW: Epic
Magical Action-Packed Animated Adventure Hits Hi-Def Home Video...
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If I was a kid and my parents wouldn't let me watch The Lord of the Rings, I'd hope they'd pop in Epic instead. So it's animated instead of live-action and it's not nearly as violent or thematically deep... Epic - like The Lord of the Rings - is filled with an awesome type of magical adventure that brings together fantasy lovers of all ages for an engaging story filled with fun characters, exciting action and a solid message.
Blue Sky Studios - responsible for favorites Ice Age and Rio - brings to life Epic, a fun-filled adventure set at a miniscule level. Epic begins with Professor Bomba (Jason Sudeikis) and his daughter M.K. (Amanda Seyfried) arguing - as so many fathers and daughters do. The Professor's life work - revealing the existance of a forest filled with fairies and other mythological creatures - has found him shunned by all, including his daughter. Spending his days setting up slo-mo cameras and traps to capture the unbelievable, the Professor seeks to prove his life has purpose to everyone - but especially M.K. So when a tragic battle between the evil Boggans - led by the nefarious King Mandrake (Christoph Waltz) - and the Forest Queen Tara (Beyoncé Knowles) and her protectors, The Leafmen, finds M.K. being shrunk to just 2" tall, the real action begins. Soon, M.K., the Queen's protector Ronin (Collin Farrell) and the rebelious Leafman Nod (Josh Hutcherson) must lead a rag-tag group of forest dwellers to save a single pod which holds the spirit of the forest and the future of all that's green.
Like so many fantasy films which try to leave a lasting impression, Epic too seeks to leave viewers considering the implications of our own actions as well as the natural cycle of nature and life. Of course, a natural part of this cycle is both birth and death and here both are also featured. As such, some young children may need further explaination; however, the way in which the writers here present the material is both family-friendly and positive. Profound in its themes of self sacrifice and doing the right thing at all times, Epic does an excellent job of presenting these fairly mature (and common) themes in ways which will both appeal to and entertain little ones. Overall, the story itself - thanks in part to some brilliant action sequences and some hilarious comic relief - by the pod guardians Mub (Aziz Ansari) and Grub (Chris O'Dowd) - plays out well and should entertain any and all fantasy fans, no matter their age.
As for video and audio, the Blu-ray here provides an excellent all-around experience. The gorgeous 1080p animation is smooth, clean and impressive throughout with vivid colors which pop off the screen. Dynamic design work is also extraordinary, fantasy fans will truly be impressed by the character designs. Likewise, the DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1 surround track provides an awesome experience with constant use of rear speakers surrounding viewers with the ambiance of the forest. Birds chirp as they fly past, leaves break from the branch and fall past, wind whips around you; it's nearly impossible to not be impressed.
As for bonus material, the Blu-ray disc includes a solid selection of material, including a number of short featurettes along with a seven-part making-of documentary. The seven-part Making-Of, the 25-minute "Mysteries of Moonhaven Revealed," explores the development of the world, its characters and creatures and also includes interviews with the director, producers and animators. As for the featurettes, there are four included here: the 5-minute "Birds, Bugs, and Slugs: Forest Explorer," which explores the real life animals features in the film; the 3-minute "Rot Rocks," which shows how rot and decay work in everyday life; the 4-minute "Bugs of Camouflage," which follows Ken the Bug Guy as he examines how some insects use camo to blend into their surroundings; and the 4-minute "The Epic Life at 2 Inches," which explains how life change for us were we only 2-inches tall. Of course, the film's trailer and a number of other trailers for other films are also included as well.
A fun, hilarious fantasy with engaging action and a great message, Epic provides a great, family-friendly viewing experience. Characters grow, relationships change, action excites and there's laughs a plenty. While there's little to surprise those of us who've seen genre films like The Lord of the Rings or Star Wars, there's no doubt Epic will make for an enjoyable 102 minute viewing experience with fantasy fans of any age.
Epic is available now on Blu-ray 3D, Blu-ray and DVD wherever fine home video is sold.
- Jess C. Horsley