An eccentric scientist (Jason Sudeikis, miscast) takes in his estranged teenage daughter (Amanda Seyfried), who comes to stay with him after the death of her mother. She’s convinced her old man’s theories about a race of tiny humanoid creatures who inhabit the nearby forest are proof of his departure from reality. Then a freak accident propels her into the world that dear old Dad described, where a once-in-a-century battle rages between the forces of regeneration (commanded by Colin Farrell’s square-jawed warrior) and blight (led by Christoph Waltz’s grinning cadaver). Bring on the colorful-yet-kid-friendly carnage, as well as the celebrity voices: Josh Hutcherson’s headstrong rebel-cum-love-interest, Chris O’Dowd and Aziz Ansari’s bumbling comic-relief gastropods, Beyoncé Knowles’s beatific queen (what else would she play?) and Steven Tyler’s absentminded wise man are none more distinctive than their vague outlines suggest.
Like its nondescript title, Epic is so generic it might as well come in a black-and-white box: Animated Adventure Designed to Sell Toys. Despite obvious parallels between micro- and macro-storylines, director Chris Wedge (Ice Age) cuts awkwardly between the two worlds, derailing whatever piddling momentum the movie manages to accumulate. Though technology has made massive leaps in the 15 years since A Bug’s Life, this tiny-creature toon can’t muster anything like the Pixar classic’s sense of wonder at seeing the minute made massive. Wonder requires a point of view—and Epic has none.
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