Monday, 27 May 2013
Firstly - despite what the trailers suggest, this film has nothing in common with Ferngully (unless you count "large numbers of trees"); it is in fact another in a long line of CGI animations based on books by the American author/illustrator (and now film-maker) William Joyce - films such as Meet the Robinsons, Robots, and Rise of the Guardians. Although the plot is definitely one of the "7 storylines" it's told well, and with some decent twists - this is helped by some good supporting characters.
The big strength of the film, however, is its visuals. From the opening shots of empty forest to big battle scenes, the film world is beautifully designed and realised; like Brave, I suspect that this is down to plenty of on-location research by the animators and concept artists (in the case of Epic, the location in question being Connecticut, rather than Scotland). The character designs show a wide variety of influences - the leafmen have obvious similarities of the High Elves from the Lord of the Rings trilogy, but other characters are based on plants, insects and even fungi.
Some aspects of this film are probably only possible because of the animated nature of the film - like Arietty, it makes use of scale effects that would be difficult to replicate using live action and VFX (I won't say any more, to avoid spoilers), and although other scenes (particularly interactions between different scaled characters) could be done using VFX (much like Honey, I shrunk the kids), it is hard to believe that the effect would be quite as successful when the 2 sides of the interaction have to be created seperately.