Thursday, May 23, 2013

Forest gumption

Despite utilizing common and overused ideas, “Epic” is a lushly animated and charming adventure about a teen who finds herself involved in a clash between warring forest beings.

The girl, Mary Katherine/M.K. (voiced by Amanda Seyfried), is disappointed at her father’s seemingly foolhardy quest to prove the existence of tiny creatures near their aging home. There really are fighting factions; one is led by the forest queen Tara (Beyonce Knowles), and their decay-wielding arch-foes are led by Mandrake (Christoph Waltz). Shrunk to their size, M.K. is tasked with delivering a precious item to an important venue. Accompanying her are new allies, among them the Leafmen Ronan (Colin Farrell) and Nod (Josh Hutcherson).

Directed by Chris Wedge (“Ice Age” and “Robots”), “Epic” has balanced doses of action and character development. While the story’s something we’re acquainted with—the fish out of water concept’s been rehashed countless times—we’re nonetheless captivated by the dynamic take, replete with solid designs and likable characters. Still, while most of the main figures are archetypal, some radical deviation would’ve been nice.

There will be obvious and inevitable comparisons to “FernGully” and “Avatar,” but thankfully, “Epic” doesn’t get heavy-handed with environmental preaching. It’s just a good old-fashioned good-versus-evil romp; the aerial battles are fun, the humor is strategically knit into tense moments, and as expected, the outsider helps save the day (and learns tremendously from the experience).

“Epic” will be in Philippine cinemas starting May 24.

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