Tuesday, August 20, 2013

Video review: "Epic"

“Epic” is an animated movie with a big name but a small story to tell. And I mean literally tiny -– it’s set in the secret world of the forest where miniscule creatures battle between good and evil.

One the one side is Leafmen, micro-sized soldiers who wear nuts, sticks and what have you as armor. They protect the land from decay and intrusion by the Boggans, little insectoid creatures led by the villainous Mandrake (Christoph Waltz).

The set-up is that this long-running war has happened virtually under the noses of humans, who are too lumbering and self-absorbed to see the wee critters. Except, that is, for a half-mad scientist who studies them without much success. His estranged daughter Mary Katherine (Amanda Seyfried) comes to visit and is accidentally shrunk down to the size of the Leafmen, and soon joins them in their quest.

It seems the old queen of the forest has fallen to Mandrake’s schemes, and unless a new magical seed pod is brought to just the right place at just the right time, it will bloom in darkness and evil will reign.

Narratively, “Epic” has too much going on, with a romantic side story involving M.K. and a wayward Leafman (Josh Hutcherson), a psychedelic wise man voiced by Steven Tyler, and a pair of sluggish doofs who act as comic relief.

The life-lessons parts are slathered on a little too heavy, with M.K. and her dad learning to bond, the young Leafman finds out that working together as a team isn’t so bad, and so on.

It is a great-looking picture, and director Chris Wedge (“Ice Age”) has a nice feel for action and landscape.

Fast-paced and filled with cartoony action, “Epic” should entertain little kids well enough, though their parents might be tempted to wander out of the room.

Video extras are quite good, and you don’t have to buy the most expensive package to get some nice stuff.

The DVD comes with several featurettes, including an educational one about real-life insects who use camouflage. There’s also a mobile app (for Android and iOS) that allows kids to color and create their own adventure, even recording their own voice, and play it back for others.

Upgrade to the Blu-ray combo pack, and you add another featurette and a comprehensive making-of documentary, “Mysteries of Moonhaven Revealed.”



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