Director: Chris Wedge
Voices: Amanda Seyfried, Colin Farrell
2 (out of 5) Globes
Perpetual also-rans behind Pixar and DreamWorks Animation, Fox’s Blue Sky Studios previously brought us “Rio” and the absurdly profitable “Ice Age” series. Blue Sky movies have a strictly good-enough-for-government-work feel. Popular without penetrating the zeitgeist, these are marginally adequate entertainments destined to be forgotten on the drive home from the movie theater.
Blue Sky’s latest, the blandly titled “Epic,” is more of the same. Inspired by “The Leaf Men and the Brave Good Bugs,” a 32-page children’s book from “Rise of the Guardians” author William Joyce, director Chris Wedge and a small platoon of screenwriters (including Joyce himself) have fashioned an overcrowded hodgepodge of familiar tropes and Xeroxed bits from other, better movies. It’s the kind of movie that even while watching for the first time you could swear you’ve seen before.
Amanda Seyfried voices Mary Katherine, a tweener who recently lost her mom and is sent to live with her estranged scientist Dad (Jason Sudeikis) in a dilapidated country estate. She wants to be called MK now, and has no patience for her bumbling father’s crackpot theory that there’s an army of insect-sized men flying around the forest shooting bows and arrows on birds affixed with saddles.
But of course he’s absolutely correct. There’s a war going on in the woods, where the brave and noble Leaf Men (led by an uptight Colin Farrell) do daily battle with the sinister Boggans, gargoyle-like creatures who soar around on bats spreading rot and decay.
After much convoluted business involving the queen of the forest (yes, that’s really Beyonce) MK finds herself shrunk down and placed in charge of protecting a pod that’s the mystical key to the survival of the woodlands, or something like that.
The universe of “Epic” is so needlessly overcomplicated that the majority of the movie is just characters standing around explaining the story to one another. But if you’ve seen “Lord of the Rings,” “Avatar” or even “Ferngully: The Last Rainforest,” you’ll already be way ahead of them. Wedge tries to distract from the deja vu with oddball celebrity cameos, including Steve Tyler as a singing caterpillar and Pitbull as a jive-talking frog. But the nicest thing you can say is that at least the movie practices the green environmental message that it preaches: The entire screenplay is recycled.