EPIC (Blu-ray Review)

 epic squareOh the world of computer-animated films. It’s no secret that somewhere along the line I almost stopped enjoying them. I can’t put my finger on why, but it just happened. Still, I intend to give such films the time of day if they managed to catch my eye. Not every animated film can be as amazing as How To Train Your Dragon, but there is always the possibility of entertainment value to be had. So when a story of forest-dwelling creatures caught my attention back in the spring, I made it a point to eventually check it out. Blue Sky Studios’ Epic is now on Blu-ray, but did it fall short like so many other computer-animated films I’ve watched, or did it prove to reach my expectations?



First, let’s set the scene.  Epic is, for the most part, about a civilization of very small beings who call the forest their home.  There is their very respected leader in Queen Tara played by Beyoncé Knowles and her army of guardians known as the Leafmen, whose greatest warrior is voiced by Colin Farrell.  Meanwhile, we have the full sized human known as Mary Katherine (Amanda Seyfried) who pays a visit to her dad who is very preoccupied with his scientific research and efforts to find the allegedly mythical and miniscule forest dwellers.  It isn’t before long that Mary Katherine finds herself amidst the people her dad has spent years of toil trying to discover.  Of course that’s all only the beginning as the King of Rot, Mandrake, voiced by the villainous Christoph Waltz, is intent on spreading decay throughout the green landscape and destroying all that which the Queen has struggled to maintain.

This film received some very luke warm reception from critics, and quite honestly, I don’t know why.  As far as animated films go, was it Toy Story?  Well, no, but there is plenty of entertainment value here and a solid message of being mindful of the world around you.  The animation was astounding, the action fast-paced and the general story more than proficient.  The fact that there is a colorful ensemble with the likes of Pitbull, Aerosmith’s Steven Tyler, and the comedic timing of Chris O’Dowd only adds to the eclectic cast.  Director Chris Wedge did a great job in assembling all the pieces of the puzzle for what turned out a be a really good film with a lot of replay value.

The film did have its drawbacks such as a very cliché concept of an effective evil leader and his bumbling son.  It just felt like this aspect has been utilized more than enough.  Dad is looking for a successor in his offspring, but instead tolerates a clumsy ally of evil-in-the-making who can never seem to right his own ship.  The other drawback is on the good guys’ side of things. There’s your young, brash warrior who has the ability to become the new hero, but he’s just too hard-headed and impatient to realize his talent and skill level…because that’s never been done before.  Nevertheless, the positives outweigh the drawbacks here due to the story and its colorful array of characters.  After all, don’t let a few nicks scratch an opportunity to check this film out.



Without question, this is a reference-quality disc.  The animation is some of the best you will see, from the high speed archery battles to the rippling water of a serene pond.  The colors are lush and the details crisp and numerous.  Whether it’s the rough, knobbly texture of tree bark or the smooth, intricate surfaces of the Leafmen’s armor, there is a constant presence of visual superiority that makes it near impossible to look away from the screen in this 1080p AVC encode presentation.



Epic displays its audible presence in a DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1 surround track that is nothing short of spectacular.  Where does one begin with the accolades?  First there is the exceptional use of the rear channels that include everything from the über variant sounds of nature that a forest produces which are accurately portrayed here in the film.  Then there are those aforementioned action sequences where the zip of an arrow feels like it’s about to graze your ears only to carry into a scene where a certain three-legged pug crashes about inside.  In addition are the front channel effects which deliver clear dialogue as well as the film’s orchestral pieces.  No matter how you wrap it, this disc gives your surround sound system a heck of a workout.  The level of impressiveness by the video is certainly matched here in the audio department.



While there may not be a great deal of content, it’s the quality of the special features on the Epic Blu-ray that contributed to a score slightly above middle-of the-road.  In addition to the list below, the film also comes with a code for an Ultraviolet copy, which for the inundated, is a cloud-based copy you can stream on your smart device or computer.  Honestly, it’s not all that impressive.  Give me a regular digital copy that I can watch from iTunes and then we’re talkin’.

  • Birds, Bugs and Slugs: Forest Explorer – A deeper look at the real life creatures portrayed in the film (5:21).
  • Rot Rocks – The very non-evil, natural advantages that rot and decay offer in a real forest (3:18).
  • Bugs of Camouflage – Ken the Bug Guy gives us a quick look at some real life insects that use crafty camouflage to their advantage (3:44).
  • The Epic Life at 2 Inches – Ever wonder what life would be like as a Leafman?  Wonder no more as this featurette covers the science of living at 2 inches tall (3:42).
  • Mysteries of Moonhave Revealed – A discussion with the creators and masterminds behind Epic (24:39).
  • Theatrical Trailer – (2:12)
  • Sneak Peek – Here viewers get to check out eight different ads/trailers for various films including Percy Jackson: Sea of Monsters, The Croods and Shrek the Musical (10:05).



With outstanding technical specs, an enjoyable story and some educational extras to boot, you can’t go wrong with Epic on Blu-ray.  There is some animated violence which may not be for the really young kids, but for the most part, it’s a film for the whole family.  Epic proves to be visually stunning with a very impressive display of sound, and let’s not forget, just a really good movie in itself.  This is one movie definitely worth adding to your library.








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