News Column

'Epic': Wee warriors in a grand adventure

May 23, 2013

YellowBrix

May 23--In "Epic," as in many children's films, a young character is mysteriously transported to a strange yet beautiful world. In this case, our Dorothy is M.K. (voiced by Amanda Seyfried), a teen who finds her own Land of Oz when she's suddenly shrunken, encountering a forest full of leaf men, flower people and talking slugs. Puzzled by all of this -- particularly the uniformed militia of the leaf troops -- her first question is logical. "Is this some sort of re-enactment?" she asks.

Directed by Chris Wedge ("Ice Age," "Robots"), "Epic" is an unexpected charmer, telling a familiar story with wit and artistry. I can think of many movies that might be improved by the addition of Mub and Grub, the slug/snail comedy duo voiced by Aziz Ansari and Chris O'Dowd. ("I'm a sluuuuuug," drones Mub, and you can practically hear the trail he's leaving.) Seyfried and Jason Sudeikis as her neglectful scientist dad are sweet together, Beyonce is warm yet regal as the forest's Queen Tara, and Josh Hutcherson and Colin Farrell face off heroically against villain Mandrake -- who is voiced, as all villains should be, by Christoph Waltz.

The story's simple enough to appeal to young kids (the 8-year-old with me pronounced the movie "awesome"), but adults will enjoy the beautiful animation, whether 3D or 2D. (I saw it in 3D, but I suspect it's equally pretty in two dimensions.) There's something magical about the way the lush yellow-green forest seems to hover around M.K.'s father's house, like it's both guarding and beckoning, and the forest creatures are wonderfully imaginative -- a dandelion woman, for example, whose sneeze causes all her seeds to blow away, leaving her uncomfortably bald. Not quite epic, perhaps, but a lovely movie for any age.

Moira Macdonald: 206-464-2725 or mmacdonald@seattletimes.com

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