With 'Epic', Blue Sky Studios has done something most surprising. That being the decision to produce a animated feature that holds little comedy, with a focus on a serious narrative and high moral meaning. This is not necessarily a bad thing to occur for the studio, just strange when looking into their past successes as an animation house, the 'Ice Age' franchise and 'Rio' both hold extremely high comedic elements and score big at the Box office. By surrounding this element from their latest venture, the studio has perhaps created - and beautifully crafted - their most personal movie yet. With true meaning to be found in the film, the narrative may seem overly serious for the target demographic that this studio has, in the past, aimed for. However, with a cast stock full of interesting and quirky characters, as well as an overly vast array of colour in every frame it holds, the world of 'Epic' surrenders this moral message to the background and as such, survives - and deservedly thrives - the attention of children.
After the obvious, it is never mentioned in the film of the passing of her mother. Mary 'M.K' Katherine is forced to live with her estranged father - who through a lifetime hunting for little people, is deemed odd and embarrassing in his beliefs. Struggling with his intent on proving his theories, as well as the change in scenery, M.K decides to leave home and make it on her own. However, when she is caught up in a battle between the leaf-men and Boggans (two groups of little creatures that strive for power over the forest) resulting in the death of the forest queen, M.K is shrunken down and tasked with bringing the power to the chosen heir - in doing so saving the forest from utter destruction. Aided on her path by two leaf-men soldiers, Nod and Ronin, as well as a slug and snail, M.K must transport the essence of the past queen to the correct place where it can bloom into a good natured source. Hunted for this essence by the leader of the Boggans, voiced expertly by Christoph Waltz, M.K and her companions battle 'Epic'-ally in hopes of saving the balance of nature, whilst also finding a way in which she can return home.
'Epic', like most modern day Computer Generated animation films, is beautifully crafted and crisp in its production. With character models and setting designs made to the highest standard so far for the studio, the film borders on 'Pixar' quality as standard. A step up from their past films, 'Epic' also carries an interesting narrative and enthralling characters - be it slightly underwritten in some instances. With a well chosen voice cast, each performing their roles admirably, the animation side of this film feels almost complete. However, with a more serious tone throughout, the film suffers from a non-lightheartedness that this studio has come to be known for, and as such, feels odd in relation to their past workings. A change of tone will please some, whilst detract others. A modernized 'Fern Gully' that holds a similar final message, 'Epic' is a well designed and expertly made film that shows the prowess that this studio holds within the genre. C+