May 24, 2013 by  
Filed under Ashley, Reviews

Starring: Colin Farrell, Amanda Seyfried, Christoph Waltz
Directed by: Chris Wedge (“Robots”)
Written by: James V. Hart (“August Rush”), Tom J. Astle (“Get Smart”), Matt Ember (“Failure to Launch”), William Joyce (debut) and Daniel Shere (debut)

While the title is a drastic overstatement, “Epic” is sure to send the kiddos off with a smile and some good laughs. With that said, it’s important to warn those who are expecting a magical world filled with dynamic characters and a heartwarming storyline to wipe your expectations clean. “Epic” doesn’t reach those heights.

In “Epic,” teenager Mary Katherine, aka M.K., (Amanda Seyfried), who has recently lost her mother, must deal with the transition of moving in with her kooky and absent-minded father, Professor Bomba (Jason Sudeikis). Hard at work, the professor is trying to prove the existence of a secret world which inhabits tiny warriors who protect the forest, a theory M.K. isn’t buying. The only bright side to living in her new creaky home is spending time with her rambunctious, beat-up Pug, Ozzie. After accidentally letting Ozzie loose, M.K. ends up chasing him into the forest where she is magically shrunken into the secret world her father told her about – a world of fairylike creatures and talking animals.

Caught in the middle of a raging war between good (the Leafmen) and evil (the Boggans), M.K. finds her tiny self destined to protect the “chosen pod,” which now holds the good spirit of the forest, passed on by the slain Forest Queen, Tara (Beyonce). In order to defeat Mandrake (Christoph Waltz), leader of the Boggans, who is plotting to take over the forest, M.K. enlists the help of Ronin (Colin Farrell), the noble and trusty Commander of the Leafmen; Nod (Josh Hutcherson), a rebellious hero; and a couple of comic-relief sidekicks, Mub the Slug (Anziz Ansari) and Grub the Snail (Chris O’Dowd).

With so many opportunities to live up to its name, “Epic” never fulfills its destiny. Focusing a little more on the divided relationship between M.K. and her father would’ve been the easiest fix, but the film never takes full advantage when it has the chance. It barely grazes the surface of the father-daughter narrative and leaves the audience with unanswered questions.

Although unsuccessful at capturing the emotions of the entire story thanks to mediocre voice acting and a static storyline, “Epic” makes up in aesthetics with its whimsical animation and intricate battle choreography. But what truly slides in and saves the day, literally, are Mub the Slug and Grub the Snail. With their slapstick humor and memorable jokes, “Epic” is more enjoyable than it really should be.

Get Smart

June 15, 2008 by  
Filed under Reviews

Starring: Steve Carell, Anne Hathaway, Dwayne Johnson
Directed by: Peter Segal (“The Longest Yard”)
Written by: Tom J. Astle (“Failure to Launch”) and Matt Ember (“Failure to Launch”)

Mel Brooks is an acquired taste, even more so in 2008.

Coming into the production of the film version of “Get Smart” as an advisor with fellow TV series writer Buck Henry, the duo attempt to inject some of the old show’s spirit into only the second feature of Tom Astle and Matt Ember’s screenwriting career.

While the dryness and silliness are there for the most part, some of the jokes sink fast on the big screen as people think back and wonder if “Blazing Saddles” is really as funny as every one says it is.

Brooks is a comedy auteur, and well he should be. No one was making films like “Young Frankenstein” and “Spaceballs” during their time and his enthusiasm for emulating peculiar characters in his own way was both creative and absurd. But now, the comedy feels worn out. It’s proved so in 2005’s “The Producers,” when the film wasn’t as well-received as the Broadway show or the 1968 film of the same name directed and written by Brooks.

In “Get Smart,” Brooks’ characters are revived for an adventure in the 21st century after the original show ended 38 years ago. Like other TV shows of that era that have also been updated for a new generation (“The Beverly Hillbillies,” “Bewitched,” “I Spy”), “Get Smart” has a rough time translating over.

Although cast well (Steve Carell is the perfect to replace Don Adams as secret agent Maxwell Smart), the script falters as it plays out more like an episode of “Mr. Bean” than a bumbling “James Bond.” It’s a nicely constructed cast with Anne Hathaway taking Barbara Feldon’s role as Agent 99 and an addition of Agent 23 played by the always suave Dwayne Johnson.

For something filled with so much deadpan humor, “Get Smart” gets more laughs than the reimagining of Steve Martin’s new “Pink Panther” shtick, but only gets as far as the dry wit takes it. In this case, slapstick and action sequences get most of the screen time and in turn ruins what the original show was all about.