The hopeful title of
A few days after seeing "Epic," which is loosely based on a few concepts in William Joyce's book "The Leaf Men and the Brave Good Bugs," it's difficult to keep its story and characters, or even its visual design, in your mind's eye, in part because the five credited screenwriters overload the narrative with incident and threatening complication.
Day-old ("Ice Age") or fresh ("Ratatouille"), globally successful animated features tend to invite simple description. Mammoth family and pals want to survive. Rat wants to become a gourmet chef.
"Epic"? A girl (voiced by Amanda Seyfried), whose mother has recently died, discovers what her dad, an addled inventor (
See? See how long that took to explain?
"How to Train Your Dragon," itself riding on the profitable back of "Avatar," proved that 3-D computer animation looks best from the air. The flying sequences in "Epic" deliver some satisfying swoops and dives. Director Chris Wedge, who did the first "Ice Age" and the more interesting (though similarly overcrowded) "Robots," manages the traffic well enough.
What "Epic" lacks is a look to remember. Aziz Ansari and Chris O'Dowd are fun and shrewdly matched, though, as the mollusks cracking wise on the sidelines of a plot recalling (don't laugh) "A Midsummer Night's Dream" as much as "Ferngully."
And if you think this review refers to a surfeit of other movies and plays, wait'll ya see the picture.