We saw a snippet of this film on “Blue Peter” (BBC TV children’s programme) and thought we might like to go to the cinema and see more. So off we went to see “Epic”, an animation set in a forest in the Northern hemisphere probably in the USA.

The premise of the film was that living in the forest were some tiny, fast-living creatures whose swiftness deceived the eye. You might catch a glimpse of them but could never be sure that they were there. Enter our hero, a teenage girl, visiting her widowed father. He has been on the trail of these creatures for years – no proof but some tantalising evidence. The plot takes our hero into the Leaf Men’s world and her adventure begins. It was a familiar hero-quest plot.

The animations were well done with some humourous touches. In fact, these days it is easy to take for granted good quality animations that out do the ground breaking work of Disney, Dream Works, Pixar and the like. The characters were reasonably well drawn and the actors did a fine job. However…

…however, there were three things that let the film down. Firstly, the plot did not seem very strong. I suppose if you were a young child, then familiarity with plot devices would not be a problem; and a predictable plot-line is not necessarily a bad thing if it is done well. For instance, I know that after 45 minutes of one of my favourite TV whodunnits we shall get the denouement and part of the pleasure is second-guessing how we get there. Unfortunately, too little time was spent on developing either the human or the little folks’ characters. To be fair, this is understandable for a film meant for young children and that brings me to the second point. At least two families in the cinema did not stay the course. It was apparent that the young children (I guess round about 3 or 4 years of age) found it either too noisy or too frightening. One child was very audibly upset. There was other movement among families with young children but that was more to do with not being able to wait for the toilet methinks.

My third gripe is that it did not make scientific sense. Yes, I know, this was a fantasy film with more in common with fairies at the bottom of the garden than with a galaxy far away. Near the beginning, one of the main characters talked about the forces of life and decay needing to be in balance – the battle was about making sure decay and rottenness did not get the upper hand. Except that the story was about defeating decay. Well, hang on a minute: rotting decay is part of the life process of a forest – recycling nutrients and all that. I could cope with Dad’s unusual gadgets and the innovative equipment of the Leaf Men – suspension of disbelief and all that – but the story didn’t even cohere with its own stated premise!

There was also no spiritual dimension to this movie. I didn’t expect an explicit or even an implicit Christian message but I did expect there to be more moral depth. It can be done: Jungle Book, Aristocats, Shaun the Sheep to name but three animations – and the latter only lasts 7 minutes an episode!

I left the cinema prepared to give 6 out of 10 but the more I have thought about it, the less I am impressed with “Epic”. Perhaps I’ll try “Despicable Me” instead. To be completely fair, while the adults in our party were not impressed, our younger companion gave the film a higher mark.

  • quality of animation: 8/10
  • acting: 7/10
  • narrative: 4/10
  • content: 2/10
  • suitability: 6-12 years

Overall 5 out of 10 or two stars.

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