A fun, entertaining film for both kids and adults: A dual review of ‘Epic’

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Epic-Movie-PosterWhat is Epic? EPIC is a 3D CG adventure comedy that reveals a fantastical world unlike any other. From the creators of ICE AGE and RIO, EPIC tells the story of an ongoing battle between the forces of good, who keep the natural world alive, and the forces of evil, who wish to destroy it. When a teenage girl finds herself magically transported into this secret universe, she teams up with an elite band of warriors and a crew of comical, larger-than-life figures, to save their world…and ours.

This film stars Beyoncé Knowles, Colin Farrell, Josh Hutcherson, Christoph Waltz and Amanda Seyfried. Learn all about Epic, play games, and read more about Epic characters as you get ready to experience this adventure in theaters May 24! (from the movie’s official website)

PJ: I had a very awesome date for the opening night of ‘Epic’: my 4 year daughter and I went to the movies for a date night. I thought it would be interesting to gauge her reaction to the movie to benefit those of us with kids. Overall? We both really liked the film, but we both liked it for various reasons.

Throughout the film, there was an underlying message about protecting the environment and aiding those who do work to save nature. As a parent, I found this to be a very impressive type of communication for younger minds who would be more open.

For my daughter, she loved all of the animals, the three-legged dog, and the characters. She did end up a little scared of the villains of the story, who created rot and decay with their touch. At the end of the film, she was clapping her hands, excited for the ending and how everything tied up. I’m pretty sure that for her, the movie was a resounding two thumbs up.

Now, for my horror-obsessed movie sensibilities, I have to say this: I really enjoyed the movie. It was more serious than what I expected, even to the point of almost seeming more like a movie made for adults. Also, the little bad guys were really creepy. I thought it was a very engaging story that was able to capture the attention of a diverse audience. There is a tendency for films, especially animated films, to depend on one character to assume the heroic role and other characters to just be window dressing. In Epic, almost everyone is given the opportunity to shine. The realistic characterization and plot development made this film a pleasure to watch.

For my daughter and I, we highly recommend the film and I’d have to say that it should be rated as an 8 out of 10.

Epic Emma: Epic – Definition – it is a long narrative about a serious subject told in an elevated style of language, focused on the exploits of a hero or demi-god who represents the cultural values of a race, nation, or religious group, in which the hero’s success or failure will determine the fate of that people or nation. Usually, the epic has: a vast setting, and covers a wide geographic area it contains superhuman feats of strength or military prowess, and gods or supernatural beings frequently take part in the action. The epic begins with the invocation of a muse to inspire the poet. The narrative starts in medias res. The epic contains long catalogs of heroes or important characters, focusing on highborn kings and great warriors rather than peasants and commoners.

Epic is a word we use tend to use very loosely. So before I went to watch a movie that had the audacity to simply call itself Epic, I dug out my old college notes on the subject. (Sadly, they were copied off the powerpoint, and I am uncertain if this is my professor’s wording or someone else’s.) And as I had remembered, the exact literary definition of the word was very different from the slang term. So I spent a great deal of the movie and the time after mulling over whether or not it really deserved to be called Epic.

Overall it was a spectacular film, and it would be so easy to gush about the pacing, the visual, the characters, and the plot. However, in a surprising twist, I didn’t end up comparing it to the animated films I thought I would. I figured I would find it a mental home in with movies I really enjoyed and love to rewatch like Kung Fu Panda and Bolt. Or maybe if it was really good, it would go with the heartwarmers like How to Train Your Dragon and Brave. However, it defied any expectations and immediately joined the ranks of movies like Lion King and Mulan in my mind because it made my world bigger. It was an epic.

So yes, the lengthy definition does matter. Because it proves my case. The biggest trend I see in movies right now is to explain things. To narrow the focus to one person with one problem. Even many of the blockbusters do this. We just finished deconstructing the mythos of Batman and seeing what made it tick. Star Trek is all about the process of Jim Kirk growing up to become a good captain. We have an entire prequel trilogy trying to give Vader a face beneath his mask. And I love these movies. I love to think. But every once in awhile, I want a movie that doesn’t require a lot of digging below the surface, that tells a story with bold, sweeping strokes that are exactly what they appear, but is still more substantial than slapstick comedy.

epic1Epic follows nearly all the requirements of an actual epic. It isn’t written in verse like so many of them, and it doesn’t exactly have a long catalog of important people though if you squint hard the bit with the Rings is similar. However, everything else is there. It is a stunning clash between good and evil. And rather than seeming too one dimensional, it’s gorgeous. Evil isn’t wondering if all it really wants in a cottage by a stream. Good isn’t wondering if it’s good enough to face the evil and if they’re really any different.  And in fact, there is no history to how the two sides got there. This is true medias res. Very, very little back story is offered up for anything: sides, characters, and even races are just there and we are thrown in mid stream. And it was deeply refreshing.

But the thing that endeared this movie to me most? The fact that the word hero is never used. This isn’t a story about a hero. It’s about normal people who are living out their normal lives, however magical they might be. Yet when the fate of their world is thrust into their arms, their response is, “where do I take it?” No moaning about how they aren’t a hero. Even the one Leafman who’s been out looking for a life of less responsibility and more thrills drops his dreams in an instant to help his people.  For all her perfectly drawn confusion, the girl who shrinks into a magical hidden world never turns back from the quest thrust on her. And that more than anything else is what made this a heroic epic in my mind. That odd idea that when the world comes crashing down, we will all have in it us to pick the right side and to protect all we hold dear.

5 out of 5 Stars

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