Tuesday, 11 March 2014

Epic (2013)

If you ever wondered why Epic didn’t feel engaging, this is my answer

The director of Ice Age turns quaint children’s storybook The Leaf Men and the Brave Good Bugs into an epic full-blown good vs evil action adventure. It’s as if Hayao Miyazaki turned The Borrower Arrietty into an epic good vs evil action adventure.

Just as you too can tell from the first 15 minutes, a girl estranged from her crackpot scientist father discovers that he’s been right all along: there’s a civilisation of little people and bugs in his backyard. She meets a young leaf man warrior in training estranged from his adopted father. The entire civilisation is under threat from a villain and his not-so-estranged but bumbling and disappointing heir. Meanwhile there’s a little dandelion flower girl who’s at the age where she should do whatever grown-up dandelion flower women do. She can’t and though that doesn’t concern her mum, it does freak her out. The queen of the civilisation is killed and her magical pod must be protected till the heir is found.

So much goes on in the first act just to tell you that the next generation is the locus of all hopes and anxieties of the previous generation. What happens next is Chris Wedge and his team somehow forgetting how this premise would naturally develop the character arc of the 4 protagonists, then giving them a completely different and unrelated one, and then writing a conclusion where the solution to their problems... doesn’t actually rely on resolving inter-generational conflict or growing into their own.

Epic is a gorgeously animated film that feels like it has nothing to do with the story being told, and the story being told feels like it has nothing to do with the characters who are featured, and the characters being featured don’t seem to have anything appropriate to do with the crises they face...

The bottom line: Chris Wedge’s success with his rambling, narrative-free world of his Ice Age franchise hasn’t prepared him for traditional storytelling at all. Or even the basics of storytelling.

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