Epic is a mixture of several stories we’ve seen before– The Littles, Avatar, The Wizard of Oz, and Honey I Shrunk The Kids.
The film is set when teenager Mary Katherine (aka M.K., played by Amanda Seyfried) goes to live with her eccentric father (Jason Sudeikis) after her mother dies (which is barely mentioned so will go right over most kids’ heads). The first thing that comes to mind is Rick Moranis’s character in the Honey franchise. The Dad is a mad scientist, bumbling and clueless socially. M.K. can’t relate to him and certainly doesn’t understand why he’s so engrossed in proving there’s an alternate universe of tiny people living in the forest behind their home. Yet she quickly sees for herself that his theories are true as the plot alternates between the fantasy world of the little people she’s joined and the world of reality she wants to return to, including her father.
There are several plotlines going on at once in Epic. There is the relationship between M.K. and her father. And in the other world, Leafman soldiers battle to preserve the life of the forest from the Boggins who wish to rot it. Beyonce plays Queen Tara, the ruler of the forest, who must choose an heir to her throne as part of the good versus evil race. The Queen breathes her power into a pod, which must bloom before the heir is chosen. The pod ends up in M.K.’s hands, and like Dorothy with the ruby slippers M.K. doesn’t realize the power she holds when all she really wants is to go home.
The animation in Epic is stunning. It is so smooth and clear it almost doesn’t look like animation. From the exact look of a taxicab meter to the crystal clear blades of grass, visually the film is exquisite.
The imagination for much of the film is fun too. The highlights are the images of the natural world- flower fairies, soaring birds- and when the differences between the human and little person world are shown, like when the tiny people laugh at how slowly humans talk and move.
There are themes surrounding community, nature, and the phrase “you are never alone” is repeated throughout.
Yet overall Epic lacks originality, and for young viewers the plot is confusing because there are too many things going on at once and too many details given. For instance, why do they need to visit the caterpillar and read the scrolls? Why can’t the heir just be chosen instead of the power transferred to a pod? My 7-year-old got a little squirmy and afterward said, “I liked it, but I didn’t understand a lot of it.”
Epic is rated PG for intense action, scary villains, and bow & arrow fighting, which results in at least one death.
Overall, Epic is recommended for children at least seven years old.
Kid Focused Grades for Epic
Compelling story line- B-
Strong message- B
Leading character is a role model- A
Sexual content – A (one kiss)
Suited for the whole family- A-
Overall Kid Focused Grade: B+
Epic, Rated PG
Running Time: 1 hour 42 minutes
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