Epic [Blu-Ray] Chris Wedge

Epic [Blu-Ray] Chris Wedge
6
"Many leaves, one tree" is the motto reiterated by an army of miniature, interchangeable leaf-men literally fighting the anthropomorphized onslaught of rot and decay threatening to take over their lush, green forest home in Epic. This world — one that exists beyond the spectrum of human perception, where bugs, pinecones, slugs, hummingbirds, bats and an army of tiny soldiers fight to maintain the integrity of environmental opulence — is, in essence, a monarchy. Queen Tara (Beyoncé Knowles) rules her people with kindness, flirting coyly with lead soldier Ronin (Colin Farrell), obscuring the eerie totalitarian nature of it all. Her quest, and the central conflict of the movie, lies within an ancient ritual, wherein a flower bud (a visual metaphor imbued with sexuality and maturation) is selected to spread life and rebirth for their forest home. Should this bud not rest under a full moon at a specified time, darkness will descend upon this world, decimating the preferential leafy green environments. This is why Mandrake (Christoph Waltz) and his legion of rot-spreading cronies will stop at nothing to destroy the bud, leaving the Queen dead and a human girl — Mary Katherine (Amanda Seyfried) — miniaturized and in charge of protecting the sacredness of a personified Walt Whitman ideology. The framing of this reductive, almost classicist battle — wherein the advent of possible change is vilified and dismissed (in fact, rot is a necessary part of forest life) — with the coming-of-age story of a young girl realizing that the deluded fantasies of her absent father (Jason Sudeikis) may actually have some validity, obscures the murky political dialogue driving the story. Mary Katherine represents self-imposed neglect. Having rejected the whimsies of her father, whose identity is fuelled by the idea that the tiny forest world is filled with talking bugs and soldiers, she's isolated the self and forced an unnecessary angst onto her identity performance. This reiterates the blanket message of Epic, wherein allegiance and obedience are paramount in the functionality of a family unit and bigger nation. Even the introduction of Nod (Josh Hutcherson) to the narrative — a leaf-man forced out of the fold when he asserted individual opinion and refused assimilation — loops back to affirm this thematic trajectory, with him learning the importance of obeying rules and being one of the aforementioned "many leaves" when he re-joins the guild and fights for the greater good. Fortunately, this rudimentary, antiquated, Aristotelian backdrop is supported by consistently compelling action, some astounding animation (any slow motion scene involving Mary Katherine's three-legged dog is "epic" unto itself) and the occasional hilarious joke. It makes the medicine go down a bit easier, leaving the surface message about children obeying and believing in their parents, even if they're neglectful schizophrenics, playing as whimsical, rather than socially irresponsible. The Blu-Ray supplements avoid discussions of underlying messages and plot completely; instead offering up some facile scientific tidbits about forest life with a soundtrack of the sort of generic "rock" music you'd hear in an A&F store. (Fox)