‘Epic’ – A tiny forest world, kept secret from humans, is made up of all manner of creatures – the Leafmen keep order against the evil Boggans and their leader, Mandrake who wishes to destroy the life and soul of the forest. When the Leafmen suffer a terrible loss, human teenager, MK, is magically shrunk to their size and is caught up in the war between the two factions. Only she can ensure the survival of the Leafmen but without any prior knowledge of their kind, can she survive the forest herself to help her new friends?
Epic (2013) – Director: Chris Wedge
Running Length: 102 mins
Starring: Amanda Seyfried, Josh Hutcherson, Colin Farrell
Genre: Animated, Action/Adventure, Fantasy
Loosely based upon the children’s novel ‘The Leaf Men and the Brave Good Bugs’ by William Joyce, ‘Epic’ introduces a beautifully imagined lush world of swashbuckling fighters, a magical ecosystem and a wholly evil species that wishes to bring about the downfall of the entire forest.
While the Leafmen’s world is rich and diverse, there is so much to pack into the story that unfortunately the characters are all a little superficial. Some interesting aspects to their personalities are introduced but the time isn’t given to explore them. It seems that due to this being mostly a children’s film, the decision has been made to make it light (discussing deceased family members could make it too dark for many kids) but having the character’s talk of these people makes the movie a half-way house so that it seems almost half-finished. Likewise, as these heavier subjects are brought in (albeit in a relatively shallow way), it drags the light-hearted aspects down making it a little too serious for its target audience of young kids.
While it may not be perfect, it’s by no means a bad movie. It is merely disappointing that a plot that could have balanced more serious tones while keeping a child-friendly focus wasn’t handled better. However, with likeable characters, lots of excitement, plenty of humour and gorgeous animation there is certainly enough to keep the kids engrossed from start to finish.
IS ‘EPIC’ SUITABLE FOR CHILDREN?
The Boggans are the villains of the movie, they attack the Leafmen and other ‘good’ creatures of the forest with bows and arrows. They screech loudly, wear rodent skulls and pelts and harm the life of the forest by causing it to decay. Several incidental characters are seen to be hit with arrows, they stop in their tracks and fall to the floor but there is nothing graphic to these deaths and other than the occasional shocked expression and grunt, no suffering is shown. One established character is hit in the torso with an arrow, they are shocked and fall from a height, they have a few final words and then die but due to when this happens in the plot, it is unlikely to be too distressing for children although another character is deeply saddened by the death throughout the rest of the film.
More than one character suffers from grief due to a loved one dying prior to the start of the movie. One character is described as having gone through the stages of grief, another cuddles a photograph of their loved one. Another clearly lost their parents at a young age and, while they do not seem to grieve for them, it has effected their life and shaped who they are as an adult.
A man is in a race where others take bets on the winner, afterwards he is taken away by two large creatures and brought before a mafia-style male. It is explained that the man was paid to lose the race but, as he won, he is now in danger. The man is concerned but remains confident and upbeat throughout this scene. Towards the end, the mobster tells his people to ‘feed him to something’.
A young woman is trapped in a deep hole and is approached by a mouse (which is large compared to her). Despite warnings of those who are trying to help her out, she goes up to the mouse which initially seems very cute and friendly. Suddenly, it turns aggressive, baring its teeth and roaring at her and attempting to harm her. This only lasts for around a minute and is interspersed with humour but the sudden and violent change could be a little scary for younger children.
Two characters who are the ‘comic relief’ are taken by the Boggans and threatened. They become very scared, whimpering and occasionally crying out from fear. This isn’t too distressing and they are wise cracking quite soon after this.
A bat is killed and instantly turned to a skeleton, this happens so quickly that its wings continue to flap for a couple of seconds before it plummets to the ground.
CAN I SEE A CLIP?
VERDICT – IS ‘EPIC’ FOR KIDS?
While there are criticisms that can be levelled at ‘Epic’ it is has wonderfully rich visuals and an entertaining story that doesn’t shy away from more mature content which is by no means a bad thing. There may be a few scary moments but we feel this movie should be appropriate for kids of all ages although any concerned parents may wish to watch along with their children one the first viewing.
- Violence: 1/5
- Emotional Distress: 1/5
- Fear Factor: 1/5
- Sexual Content: 0/5
- Bad Language: 0/5
- Dialogue: 1/5
- Other Notes: Deals with themes of family, grief, mentoring, fighting evil despite it seeming an impossible task, intellect being as important as strength, not giving up on a dream, being true to your convictions and coping with the difficulties life throws at you.
Words by Laura Record