Okay, when you serve me trailer armed with 'Dreamchasers' from Future World Music and call it EPIC I expect to watch something, well, at least epic. I waited a long timeto see this one and when I finally did, I liked it well enough.
But there was just something that kept nagging at me and it took me a while to figure it out. There are things in the movie that I absolutely Loved, but there are also few things that made the whole adventure... less. And it pisses me off a bit, because the setting we were served could lead to something downright EPIC, ppl.
So, without further ado...
Ok, first things first. What I liked about the whole business:
- LOOKS. There was serious idea behind the design part of the movie. The animation is lush, but the chara-designs take the cake. The samurai-like Leafmen's armour, the bird's harnesses, the weapons, the Boggens and their animal/bug elements that make you wonder "is it a species, or is it just a costume?" There was a solid idea behind that part of the production and people responsible for it deserve their fucking kudos. It's a joy to watch.
- PHYSICS - smaller things live faster, loved that idea. Hoped it would be some sort of a plot point, but even when it wasn't I was chuffed enough.
- LEAFMEN - just the way they act like a single organism during the fight (except one sad example, but I will expand on him later) serves the whole idea of "many leaves one tree" so much better than any half-hearted explanation Nod gave in the movie. They move in waves, keep to the strategy and it seems that everyone knows their place. They remind me a bit of an Elven Marchwarden from LotR, ones led by Haldir - and everything that reminds me of Haldir has to be good:D But, seriously, they kind of make sense in the setting.
A) exceptional value for the buck in the person of Finn - the red haired second in command of Ronin. Complex relations they've managed to put into the short seconds we see him on screen blew me away. He has like, what, three lines of dialog? And all of it is memorable, all of it creates pretty much a full-fleshed character that WE SHOULD SEE MORE OF! Damnit!
B) Ronin - typical straight-guy-commander-general, but with a nice twist to him - I just like this kind of characters and I WISH like BURNING that he was the main male protagonist in this story. Le sigh.
- M.K. - lo and behold, there's a girl that's, well, just a girl. I do like the way they build her up, that she takes no bullshit and most of the time takes what Ronin says seriously.
- BAD GUY - Mandrake easily steals every scene he's in, the end>;) Design is cool, the voice actor is hamming it up as if they've paid him to do it, and as a villain, he's genuinely threatening - or would be, if the script didn't try to offset him every time he gets to be scary. And I quite dig the thing they did with him and his son - because oh my, a villain that's also a good parent? Wow, mind blown.
- When people die... they die in this movie. And they die on screen. And stay dead. I like when "kid's movies" don't pull their punches - this one almost makes it. Almost.
Now, a bit where I get to release my frustration with a faulty piece of gear:
- PLOT - it's sad that whatever steam Blue Sky had went into the design part of the movie and little was left for the scriptwriters. The plot is... fragmented. Epic hardly knows what it wants to be - it wants to be all, I guess. There's little to no answer as to why Boggens want to destroy the forest - I assumed in my own fixit-up-mind that there's some kind of eternal struggle between life and death going on and no one is supposed to win. After all, decay is a vital part of nature, yes?
It WOULD make sense if Mandrake went all out AFTER his son was killed - because now it's personal and fuck the balance. But no, he wants to destroy everything, because he just does. And later it just makes him angrier.
M.K's grief - in order to be a vulnerable character, there has to be some kind of emotional struggle going on - it's addressed TWICE and dropped. Her mother dies, she's dealing with grief on her own with father who is close to useless and... nope, no mention of that.
Queen Tara and Ronin - we get some hints about their... phh friendship-childhood crush-tentative love-courtly affair? What was it? For all I know he could've been gay with Nod's dad and Tara was just his sassy black girlfriend-thing.
- Animal sidekicks - completely unnecessary and, even if funny, they get tiring at some point. They steal precious screen time we could use for some, I don't know, plot?
- I guess that's why exposition in this movie is handed in the most awkward way I've seen yet. There are just conversations that scream EXPOSITION PPL into your ear. No subtlety whatsoever. Would it kill someone to give me some buildup to the forest's struggle? To Tara's role in it? To the relationship between Ronin and Nod? Hell, to M.K's decision to visit her dad? Something? The information here is handed awkwardly and erratically, and there's just not enough of it. We are being told that the queen will seal her powers into a pod - but not told why now, when she's still young and kicks ass? Why in such complicated way - with waiting for the moon and THEN choosing the new queen? Augh>_< I want to know these things in a movie that's called EPIC.
- Forced romance - it's really out of nowhere and the movie could do without it, really. There's enough going on to justify the lack of teenage crushing. I swear. Also, it's handled awkwardly.
And my two biggest gripes that should never, ever happen in a movie like that. Two stumbling fools that Epic desperately tries to sold as positive and I just CAN'T STAND.
M.K's FATHER - useless maniac of a man that gets so wrapped up in his own little world that he completely forgets that he has a wife and a daughter, and that they may want to depend on him just a little? We're supposed to see him as this sympathetic misunderstood harmless weirdo that serves the part of an exposition tool and I just can't. I can't. His wife died, orphaning their daughter and does he care? No, not really. Will he talk about it with her? Nope, not really, he would rather explain his delusions and ignore every attempt the girl makes to talk about anything else. Yes, in the end turns out he was right the whole time. Does it serve as a redeeming factor? NO. He HASN'T CHANGED, he's still a fucking waste of space as a father and, to quote a review I watched, he has a relationship with his own child now ONLY because she's also interested in the stuff he's interested in. That's... about it. I kinda hoped he would die, useless as he is. In the end it was his iPod that saved the day (night) after all.
And the best for the last:
The worst male protagonist I've ever seen. Period. I mean, damn, he's useless. Completely. Does whatever he wants, doesn't listen, doesn't understand when he screws up, consequences of his actions are strange things to him... my god. Whatever he can do to screw the situation up, he will do it, no joke.
Nod, please stay with the Leafmen, we do important thing and have solid values.
Screw you, I will do my own thing. Like, get into illegal racing and get mauled.
Nod, take this girl and don't fly too fast, she's new to it.
Screw you, I will show off even though she doesn't want me to and is clearly scared, even though the area is dangerous too.
Nod, protect this pod, it's extremely important and the life of the forest depends on it.
Screw you, I will go and ride a deer.
Remind me, why is Ronin even bothering with him? I hope that his dad was the greatest shag this side of the forest otherwise Ronin was punked.
And nothing, NOTHING, changes by the end of the movie. I guess the studio wanted to go for this wild-charming-hero mix, like Flynn form Tangled, but they've missed the mark completely. They've created an idiot child in a man's body that constantly throws tantrums. Fuck you, Nod, fuck you.
All in all:
I am kind of disappointed, because I was promised EPIC and what I got was ALLRIGHT=___= If the script could decide on what it wants to be and some cast members were removed /reworked it could've been an amazing thing. If they threw away useless Nod and explained a bit more about the Boggens, the power exchange, made M.K's dad less of a maniac and ditched the fucking dog. And leave the pod with M.K instead of snails so she gets to do something besides being amazed... yeah, I would watch that.
- EPIC - about the movie...