Titling your movie Epic is a surefire way to set up unrealistic expectations, and the new movie from Blue Sky Studios (creators of the mega-popular, mega-mediocre Ice Age series) does just that. Is Epic an epic? Certainly not, although it is a serviceable animated adventure movie for kids, hitting all the requisite family-friendly beats (can-do heroine, chaste love story, sneering but ineffectual villain, comic-relief duo, predictable triumph, random musical number) without ever transcending them.
It sure does look pretty, at least. Based on a book by William Joyce (whose work has been the source for the animated movies Meet the Robinsons and Rise of the Guardians), Epic takes place in a magical, microscopic forest world, where the gallant Leaf Men fight against the evil Boggans, who want to spread their rot throughout nature. The design of the tiny creatures is quite impressive, but the plot is standard-issue hero’s-journey stuff, as the queen of the forest (voiced by Beyoncé Knowles, queen of America) entrusts everygirl M.K. (Amanda Seyfried) with a powerful whatsit that will save her people, bring harmony, etc.
Shrunk down to the size of a bug, M.K. meets a hunky Leaf Man (Josh Hutcherson), rides a hummingbird and learns to appreciate her scatter-brained dad (Jason Sudeikis), all while becoming the unlikely savior of the forest. For parents looking for adequate afternoon kid entertainment, Epic does the job, but its overly familiar story, simplistic characters and ho-hum voice performances keep it from achieving anything beyond that.