We know we’re a bit late with this review… but none the less, better late than never…
A variety of issues were going on in my life during the general release of Epic. My inlaws were visiting for two weeks. I had pnuemonia. My husband was working weekends. All of that added up to unfortunately missing Epic when it was in the cinema. Today, it was over 100 degrees outside, and we’re currently on vacation in the Susquehanna Valley, PA. I could not suffer my way through another amusement park with my son in the sweltering dry heat without succumbing to heatstroke. So, I decided to go check out the local movie theater. It was one of those post-general release theaters, and for $7.00 I finally got to see Epic in 3D.
As far as I am aware, Epic is the first animated feature for Christoph Waltz, although it’s not his first vocal work. Amusingly, the director of the film, Chris Wedge, remarked that Christoph Waltz wanted to actually “act” the role of Mandrake. During the recording, Chris said that he would read the other characters’ lines for Christoph, and when he would look up, Christoph would be staring him down, Mandrake-style. Another report said they followed Christoph around with a boom mike to record his voice as he didn’t like to stand still at the recording podium but actually wanted to act the part. This does not surprise me. As the most experienced actor in the film, which featured two musicians (Beyonce and Pitbull), Amanda Seyfried, Chris O’Dowd, Aziz Ansari and Colin Farrell, it makes sense that Waltz would not want to stand still.
Which brings me to the film itself. Prior to going in, I did read the reviews in IMDB, Rotten Tomatos, etc. and the primary whine is that it looks like a clone of Brave. It’s not. In fact, the two movies could not be further removed from each other. The story of Epic stands up very well on its’ own. I feel they looked at Mary Katherine (red headed girl in a green-hued world) and judged her as a wannabe-Merida. This is a shame, and very short sighted because the only similarities between the two characters are their coloring. Merida is a Scottish girl in an ancient highland kingdom trying to fight for change and save her mother. MK is a modern girl who accidentally stumbles upon a battle between the Leafmen and the Boggins, finds Queen Tara, and is entrusted with the task of ensuring the forest’s life continues despite Mandrake’s plan to bring rot to all he sees. The story is very interesting and beautifully rendered. The 3D effects are glorious and not gratuitious. They give the feeling you are actually peering into this tiny world. There are no cheesy effects like stuff flying out at the viewer, done for cleverness’ sake. It’s very tasteful and effective.
Mandrake is suitably evil, grotesquely covered in
rat bat-skin robes, and has more than just a desire to spread rot as his motives. He is a bereaved father, and, angry at the Leafmen, wants his kingdom to take over the forest. Mandrake is truly a Christoph character in every sense of the word. He isn’t pretty, or even redeeming in any way. Mandrake is ugly looking, and has an ugly soul that is reflected in the hiss of Waltz’s voice. The ending of the movie is suitably open enough to spawn a sequel with Mandrake’s return, which I hope does occur despite the mixed reviews.
Waltz should do more animation. His range is such that he could play a vareity of animated roles. I hope this is the first of many features he does. If you get the chance, see Epic. As both a movie and a Christoph Waltz feature, it stands up in his catalogue as one of his better performances.
*an earlier version said rat-skin.