01 September 2013

#2LR Too Late Review: Epic

There's more than a little to report as the calendar shifts to September.  Our little blog is about to crest 10,000 hits, which is certainly not exactly a big deal in the Land of Internet... spamlink posts designed to get little ol' me to click on them probably contributed around 350-500 of these hits, so it's really a hollow number regardless.  At the very least, we're getting roughly the same number of legitimate hits per month, 350-500, and I thank you all for reading our musings and reviews.  It's been about a year or so since I started posting more frequently, and I can see that there's interest in the numbers.  Thanks for everyone, you readers are on the cutting edge of this ride and I hope that you all enjoy it.

I'm also typing this on my fixed laptop.  Best Buy *wants* you to buy a new laptop, hence the $300-$700 quote.  HP is at least slightly interested in keeping their equipment running.  $200 later, my screen works and all of the niggling little things (loose battery packs, cameras that don't work, etc.) are taken care of.  It's $200 that I didn't want to spend, but those people at HP managed to turn around my service call in only two days flat... I boxed up the package on a Wednesday, HP received it, fixed it, and boxed it back up on Thursday, and I had it back in my hands by Friday.  Thankfully, HP didn't do a system refresh on it, so I don't have to spend the next two weeks figuring out what software was and wasn't installed.  I'm both grateful and annoyed at the same time... gratenoyed?  ann-ateful?

Which leads me to tonight's review.  I'm at least as current as it gets around here, reviewing the movie Epic, which was released in late May of 2013.  The movie is based on a book by William Joyce, which I had never read before anyway... you're getting nothing but critique without the Harry Potter-ish book insights or complaints.

Spoiler space below:

In some indeterminate forest, there's a fight in the air between little skull dudes on larger black birds (ravens?) and little dudes in green armor, riding ruby-throated hummingbirds.  The little skull dudes -- "Boggans" -- always seem to outnumber the green armor dudes -- "Leafmen", but the Leafmen manage to make up for it with better tactics and the ability to take out multiple Boggans.

One of the Leafmen is woefully out of place, Nod.  He pulls multiple Beetle Baileys and is ultimately kicked out of the Leafmen ranks for not being a team player by another of the protagonists, Ronin.  Ronin carries himself rather like a stereotypical Japanese warrior, between the kendo-style armor (without faceguard), the katana blade, and the hand holding the blade, where one thumb is enough to expose the blade to show that "he means business".

In the world of us regular-sized people, Mary Katherine (MK) is being dropped off at a solitary house in the woods.  Her father Bomba has wired the whole forest for sound, trying to keep an eye on the little people with all the cameras he's rigged in the forest.  He's meticulous, keeping a map of all the contacts, and even has a miniature display of Boggan armor.

Back to the little people, the Queen of the Forest has to hand her powers over soon.  She helps everything to live, while the Boggans derive the power to decay from their leader.  The night that the story opens is the important one, as she needs to pick a pod in order to transfer her power, and the pod has to bloom by the light of the full moon on the summer solstice.  (Time to set up a new system, Queenie.)

Meanwhile, MK finds that she's not crazy living with dear obsessed Dad after a short time and ends up writing a goodbye note.  She packs her bag and calls the taxi to depart.  However, the little three-legged, one-eyed dog escapes the house, and MK chases after it.

As the queen and the Leafmen come back from pod-picking, they get ambushed by Boggans.  The Queen ends up shot through the chest, and at the same time MK and the dog bust onto the scene.  MK happens across the odd little panorama, and the queen's magic ends up shrinking MK to little-person size, with instructions on how to deal with the pod.

From here, Nod, Ronin, MK, and the two slug pod caretakers end up on a whirlwind adventure, getting instructions from one of the oldest trees in the forest via a caterpillar, to losing the pod, to infiltrating the Boggan headquarters, to almost getting caught by obsessive-compulsive Daddy, to almost failing when the pod is to be opened via the moonlight.  MK figures out why the Queen used her magic to call MK into the land of little people, as she serves as the conduit to her father who's able to deal with the Boggan menace and save the day at the end.

Refreshingly, the story ends as Nod and MK share one last kiss, and she returns to full size.  She realizes her dad isn't a complete kook, definitely wants to stay by the forest so that she can talk to Nod via the forest webcams, and finds out that her place in life is in the forest.  (For the time being, at least.)

Spoiler space over.

It's quite a bit up there, isn't it?  Originally, I was going to just shrug my shoulders and give up, because the screenwriters packed in a lot of stuff into the movie, including frogs, vast multitudes of talking plants, all the odd mythos that I had a bit of a hard time keeping up with, and so on.  This is a movie that you can't just get up to refresh your drink or go get some popcorn... either you're going to miss a portion of a fight sequence that you need to keep up with what's going on, or you're going to miss a plot point that will be important at some time in the future.  This movie is dense.

Our family bought the movie and decided to have a family night watching it, and I can tell how the movie was with the reactions of our children:

11-year-old: mostly interested.
10-year-old: at times, dozed off.  Other times, watched.
7-year-old: as interested in cuddling as in watching the film.
3-year-old: playing on my legs like a jungle gym.

When the ten-year-old talked to us after the movie, he expressed interest in watching it again.  I asked him why, as we had watched it last night, and he mentioned that he was asleep through a few portions but wanted to see them in context again.

So, I suppose that this will be the basis of my final grade for this movie.  The action sequences are typically fun if a bit dizzying, the plot is dense and dizzying unless you're really giving some attention to the movie, and if you do it does feel like you've seen a long, twisty-turny story.  This movie is not a pass-the-time movie, it's a "give me ATTENSHUNS! nom nom nom" movie.  The only issue is that you have to keep yourself interested in the movie to keep going forward, and if you lose focus.... you're in the net, watching the other tightrope walkers try to balance their way across to the denouement.

Final review: 2.3

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