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Movie Review: Epic

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Author/Source: Glen Woods

Topic: Movie Review, Reviews

A review of Epic, including description of the movie, areas of concern, teachable themes, discussion questions, and scriptures to use.

Movie Review: <em>Epic</em>

Overview

Mary Katherine (she prefers M.K.) is a teenage girl who returns to her father's home near the forest to live with him. Her mother has passed away, so she decides to give dad another chance to redeem himself, despite his professional and personal idiosyncrasies, both of which contributed to ending his marriage and causing the disenchantment his daughter. Yet when she arrives, it is clear he has not changed at all. He still romps about the house and the forest chasing imaginary little people using surveillance technology and completely ignoring his daughter. Enough. She quickly makes her exit from his world and an inadvertent entrance into the wondrous world of the Leafmen, plus their fellow miniature adversaries, the Boggans.

Now all she wants is to return to her normal size and to get home. Questions are: will she be able to get her father's attention, especially in light of his grief over her disappearance, and will he even be able to help her?

You will have to watch the film for yourself for the answers to these and so many other questions.

Epic is a grand tale in miniaturized scale. I should clarify. It is grand in terms of a few important themes threaded throughout its narrative. It is less than epic with respect to the scale (no pun regarding the size of the characters intended) of its overall presentation. By that I mean that the story never quite seems to figure out whether it is a comedy, a family drama, or a grand epic quest. Instead it came off as a mishmash of Honey I Shrunk the Kids meets Avatar meets any number of comedic animated features. Yet, looking past its conflicted identity, I managed to enjoy it. The voice talent is superb (meaning they sell the believability of the characters) and the animation and music track is competent. Although most of the characters are one dimensional (either purely good or completely evil), the writers do add greater dimension to Nod, M.K., and in the end, even her father

Concerns  

Epic is rated PG for frequent war violence which does not show blood and guts other than an evil Boggan splattering the windshield of a car.

There is also a brief but romantic kissing scene between M.K. and the young Leafman Nod.

There is also brief, mildly rude language

A few scenes show Nod defying authority. Yet they also show him paying the consequences for his defiance. At one point, M.K. joins him in his defiance, which is not a surprise, given her earlier decision to run out on her father.


The film never explains how a teen could come to live with her father after the death of her mother, and then choose to leave quickly again without apparent consequences from him when she sees he has not changed.

Older kids should be okay. Younger children may become frightened at the scenes of peril and bored with the extended dialogue scenes.

Teachable Themes

  • Self Sacrifice
    • There are numerous instances of characters putting themselves in harm's way to save others. The Leafmen Queen Tara, General Ronin, the host of other Leafmen soldiers, including the oft-wayward Nod, and in the end, even M.K all put themselves at risk for the sake of others. This is an encouraging thought in light of the common selfishness which is often portrayed in theatrical releases.
  • We Are Not Alone
    • We are not alone even though we are individuals. Leafmen stick together in the face of overwhelming opposition. General Ronin epitomized this ethic in his care for Nod even in the face of Nod's rebellion. M.K. and her father figure this out in the end.
  • Reconciliation
    • Broken relationships can be reconciled to each other when there is repentance, forgiveness, and a willingness to join together again. M.K. and her dad, General Ronin and Nod, and even the gravely serious Leafmen in general and the comedic caretakers of the all-important flower bulb, Mub and Grub, all discovered reconciliation with each other through their shared perils against the marauding hordes of Boggans.
  • Creation Care
    • Creation care appears to be a primary intended theme of the film, hence my reference to Avatar above. However, unlike Avatar, it refrains from politically-charged statements and points instead to our shared need for healthy forests and wildlife.

Biblical References

While there are no Biblical references in this film, these could be applied:

    Self Sacrifice
    • John 13:34-35 I give you a new commandment, that you love one another. Just as I have loved you, you also should love one another. By this everyone will know that you are my disciples, if you have love for one another.’

      John 15:12-13 ‘This is my commandment, that you love one another as I have loved you. No one has greater love than this, to lay down one’s life for one’s friends.

      Philippians 2:2-5 (see also vs. 6-8) If then there is any encouragement in Christ, any consolation from love, any sharing in the Spirit, any compassion and sympathy, make my joy complete: be of the same mind, having the same love, being in full accord and of one mind. Do nothing from selfish ambition or conceit, but in humility regard others as better than yourselves. Let each of you look not to your own interests, but to the interests of others. Let the same mind be in you that was in Christ Jesus.
    We Are Not Alone
    • Matthew 12:48-50 But to the one who had told him this, Jesus replied, ‘Who is my mother, and who are my brothers?’ And pointing to his disciples, he said, ‘Here are my mother and my brothers! For whoever does the will of my Father in heaven is my brother and sister and mother.’

      Acts 4:32 Now the whole group of those who believed were of one heart and soul, and no one claimed private ownership of any possessions, but everything they owned was held in common. 33 With great power the apostles gave their testimony to the resurrection of the Lord Jesus, and great grace was upon them all. 34 There was not a needy person among them, for as many as owned lands or houses sold them and brought the proceeds of what was sold. 35 They laid it at the apostles’ feet, and it was distributed to each as any had need.
    Reconciliation
    • Matthew 5:24 leave your gift there before the altar and go; first be reconciled to your brother or sister, and then come and offer your gift.

      Ephesians 4:32 and be kind to one another, tender-hearted, forgiving one another, as God in Christ has forgiven you.

      Colossians 3:13 Bear with one another and, if anyone has a complaint against another, forgive each other; just as the Lord has
    Creation Care
    • Genesis 1:26 Then God said, ‘Let us make humankind in our image, according to our likeness; and let them have dominion over the fish of the sea, and over the birds of the air, and over the cattle, and over all the wild animals of the earth, and over every creeping thing that creeps upon the earth.’

      Genesis 1:28 God blessed them, and God said to them, ‘Be fruitful and multiply, and fill the earth and subdue it; and have dominion over the fish of the sea and over the birds of the air and over every living thing that moves upon the earth.’

      Genesis 2:19 So out of the ground the Lord God formed every animal of the field and every bird of the air, and brought them to the man to see what he would call them; and whatever the man called each living creature, that was its name.

      Genesis 9:3 Every moving thing that lives shall be food for you; and just as I gave you the green plants, I give you everything.

Discussion Questions:

  • Describe one time when someone helped you in a way that cost them (time, money, danger) a great deal personally? How did that make you feel?
  • What is one way your parents sacrifice to help you? Now go deeper. What are a few things they do daily to sacrifice for you that until now you may have taken for granted?
  • What is one thing you might start doing without expecting anything in return to help someone less fortunate? To help your family?
  • We all have times when we feel alone. What do you do to help you remember you are not alone?
  • Think about your friends and the other kids you know in your neighborhood and at school. Does one of them tend to be alone because other kids ignore him or her? How might you reach out to that person to help him/her feel included?
  • Sometimes we hurt someone else, or that person hurts us. What can you do personally to restore your relationship with another person?
  • Do you have a brother or sister who is really hard to get along with? What might you do to help improve your relationship?
  • What is one thing you can personally do to help take care of God's creation?
  • What is one thing your family should do differently to help take care of God's creation? Are you willing to set the example for your family?

 

Conclusion

The Leafmen stick together. Their queen places the people's interests above her own safety. They are all valiant and honorable, and their self-sacrifice impacts even a people (humans) and world much larger than their own. No small thing that infinitesimally tiny creatures should have hearts big enough to change the hearts of the mighty. For this reason I commend Epic to you. If we are willing to look past any short-comings in its storytelling execution and look deeper at the themes of reconciliation and belonging in our shared world, Epic just might let fly a Leafman's arrow which is sufficient to jolt our collective jaded cultural selfishness. It might even prompt us to let go of our hurt and become reconciled to others from whom we have become estranged in our lives. After all, "We may be individuals, but we are never alone" (General Ronin).


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