Epic (2013) is an animated film directed by Chris Wedge. The film focuses on the ongoing battle of good vs. evil among a race of tiny beings in a forest. On the good side are Leafmen, sworn to protect Queen Tara (Beyoncé Knowles), a Mother Nature figure who breathes life into the forest. On the evil side is Mandrake (Christoph Waltz), a Boggan who can bring rot and death to any living creature.
While predictable and straight-forward, the story thrives when fleshing out characters’ backstories. The star of the story, M.K. (Amanda Seyfried) and her father (Jason Sudeikis) are dealing with the recent passing of her mother/his ex-wife. Never blatantly elaborated on, this unfolding mystery adds another layer of interest in what could have been a lackluster father-daughter dynamic. Similarly, Queen Tara and Ronin (Colin Farrell) have history — an unspoken history. Another enigmatic backstory deals with Nod’s (Josh Hutcherson) father, a comrade of Ronin who passed a while ago, making Nod hesitant to follow in his footsteps. All of these backstories make the story much more interesting.
The film dazzles visually. Epic takes the audience to a spectacular world of colorful flowers, hummingbird war-horses, and stunning tree-palaces. Similar to the resplendent world of Avatar, Epic makes leaps and bounds with its incredible graphics. Absolutely everything on screen is remarkable, from the flower-people’s floral headdresses to the black depths of the Boggans’ lair. The film rightfully earns its namesake from its epic world-building.
Another success of the film is Danny Elfman’s beautiful score. This soundtrack creates tonal landscapes that match perfectly with the visuals on the screen. The score harks back to soundtracks like Harry Gregson-Williams’ for The Chronicles of Narnia: The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe, which create soundscapes that beautifully parallel their respective films.
Epic is a lovely film with an all-star cast. While not exactly memorable, the characters’ backstories and relationships are what make the story affective. Accompanied by breathtaking visuals and a beautiful score, this film succeeds as a darling summer film, for both kids and adults.