Characters make sacrifices and die, miss their parents and mourn. And we're touched. At least a little. Hard (if over-familiar) lessons are learned and laughs land on queue.
Throw in some truly gorgeous animation and Blue Sky, the studio that made it, delivers more proof that it has moved on from the junky "Ice Age" movies, even if this one doesn't rise to the charms and wit of "Rio."
Taking characters from William Joyce children's novel about "Leaf Men" and "Brave Good Bugs," a team of writers has borrowed from "Antz" and "A Bug's Life," and even "Spiderwicke Chronicles," for a story about the fairy forces of life in a forest, the Leaf Men (and women) and their allies, in battle with the rotting reptilian bog-dwelling forces of decay.
A dotty scientist's daughter, M.K. (Amanda Seyfried), is magically shrunk by the Queen (Beyonce Knowles) and must ensure that this one lily pod blooms and renews life by the light of the full moon.
M.K. is assisted in her quest by a very funny snail and a slug (Chris O'Dowd, Aziz Ansari), who know how to keep the pod alive until it blooms.
They are guided by the daffy six-legged Nim (Steven Tyler), the "scroll-keeper" who sings and studies records from the past to figure out how to carry out the pod-blooming ritual.
The film's 3-D makes excellent use of depth of field, delivering eye-popping next generation animation that, among other things, gives the forest and its creatures wonderful shadings and detail, and makes the cartoon humans even more lifelike.
But that's the sort of thing critics mention when the story is kind of all over the place.
"Epic" isn't epic, but it isn't half bad, either. It's just that as high as the bar has been raised on this sort of animation, this is more evidence that a strong story is worth more than any next-generation software.
"Epic" (2 1/2 stars)
The technology shines in this animated story about a fairyworld in the forest. A human child joins the battle of life against the evils of decay. Not great, but not bad either. With a star-studded cast of voices, including Amanda Seyfried, Josh Hutcherson, Colin Farrell, Beyonce Knowles and Christoph Walz.
Rated: PG for scary images, language.
Showing: Alderwood Mall, Cinebarre, Edmonds, Everett Stadium, Galaxy Monroe, Marsyville, Olympic, Stanwood, Meridian, Thorton Place, Woodinville, Blue Fox, Cascade, Oak Harbor.
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