“Epic,” in spite of the $100 million spent on it, isn’t epic. It is colorful, full of characters that are, to a limited extent, engaging and it is big. “Epic” has a grander connotation that the film itself doesn’t quite fit. Is that too harsh to say about a big, ambitious film aimed at the kiddy set? Maybe, but it is against some genuinely epic children’s animated films in recent years like “Up,” “Toy Story” and “Finding Nemo.” This falls short of that top rank, into the merely fun, entertaining and well worth the money. Director Chris Wedge (“Robots,” “Ice Age”) said “We wanted to make a gigantic action adventure movie.” He did.
The film is based on a book by William Joyce called “The Leafmen and the Brave Good Bugs.” That is quite a mouthful for a children’s book. In the somewhat different film, a late teen girl, M.K. (voiced by Amanda Seyfried) gets shrunk down to a size small enough to ride on a hummingbird. She lands in the middle of an age long struggle between the forces of life and growth led by the Leafmen (headed by Ronin who is voiced by Colin Farrell) and the forces of death and decay with the evil Mandrake (Christopher Waltz).
The film is rated PG, which cautions against younger children viewers. I think any wee one with enough stability to sit still for one hour and 42 minutes will like it just fine. The combat scenes are frequent but no one seems to actually die, even when falling from vast heights. There is no bad language or naked people. Fox Animation has only one brief, almost chaste kiss between M.K., the human girl, and Nod (Josh Hutcherson from “The Hunger Games”).
Other noted voice talents are Beyonce Knowles as the beautiful, wise Queen Tara who tries to keep decay away while spreading joy. Johnny Knoxville, Jason Sudeikis and especially rock and roller Steven Tyler also appear. Tyler is great as a not quite what we expect guru/wiseman, a caterpillar philosopher. Comic actor Aziz Ansari and Chris O’Dowd provide the funny stuff as voices of a slug and a snail, the keepers of the next generation queen-pod.
In a rare opportunity at controlling his original idea, book writer William Joyce is also credited with the story and the screenplay, but not as a solo. He had many helpers.
Some of us have small children or grandchildren and it is often a pleasure to take them to the flickers. I saw “Epic” in 3D, which I enjoyed. It adds something when a hero leafman seems to be right in your lap.
We can give “Epic” a strong three saw blades. It took in some $77 million worldwide in the three-day opener and looks to be a profitable film. This is harder this particular week as “Fast and Furious 6” and “Hangover III” sucked up most of the ticket money.
Now you see me
Mysterious magicians keep you guessing until the end
Watch closely, because the more you think you see, the easier it’ll be to fool you. “Now You See Me” will have you guessing until the end. Join in on this tale of thrill, crime and mystery as we follow a group of magicians known as the “Four Horsemen” as they pull off amazing tricks, with their main attraction: robbing banks and giving all the money to their audience.
It is very important to realize that this movie must not be spoiled. I will not be discussing anything not shown in the trailers, and I ask you not to go looking for such secrets but, see it for yourself. Most of the magic you see in the film is the same as you see in the trailers, with a little more elaboration. But what the movie lacks in magic it makes up for in story.
First we have J. Daniel Atlas (Jessie Eisenberg), a cocky, controlling, yet amazing magician. Next we see Merritt McKinney (Woody Harrelson), a mentalist who uses his abilities to scam great amounts of money from people. Third on our list is Jack Wilder (Dave Franco), who uses one easily discovered magic trick to rob a person blind. Last but not least we have the cute and sexy Henley Reeves (Isla Fisher), another great magician who likes to put her own little sick twists into her illusions. These main characters are drawn together by a mysterious person and become the “Four Horsemen.” But who is this mysterious person?
Now we have our antagonists. Arthur Tressler (Michael Caine), the benefactor of the “Four Horsemen,” so then why is he an antagonist? Dylan Rhodes (Mark Ruffalo), a bitter FBI agent who is not so happy being assigned to a magic case. Finally, Thaddeus Bradley (Morgan Freeman), a famous man who makes money off of exploiting magicians.
While the characters are good, they are not well developed. This adds to the film’s mystery. My recommendation is “Now You See Me” is one for everyone 15 and up to go and see. I say 15 and up in the fact that there are a few scenes that may not be suitable for children.
Ladies and gentlemen, my purpose of this review was to entice you into the mystery. If I have accomplished this, then you are curious about the answers to my questions. And the only way to know the answers is to go see “Now You See Me!” But remember… the more you think you see, the easier it’ll be to fool you.