The latest film from the studio who previously brought you Ice Age and Robots is out in cinemas now; as such, Titan have released an accompanying Art of book for the Chris Wedge film. We've actually had a copy of the book for a month or so, but schedules being what they are, we've not had the chance to review it until now. If you're in the UK, you can win yourself a free copy too, by entering our competition here. Before that though, check out our review below.
The Art of Epic is written by Tara Bennett, who - as author of The Art of Terminator Salvation and a contributor to Total Film and The Walking Dead Magazine - perhaps seems a little misplaced writing a book for an unabashedly family-oriented film. Nonetheless, she does a good job of dissecting the long production of the film and collating quotes from key contributors, stories from the core crew, and stressing how much of a personal story this is for director Wedge and writer/executive producer William Joyce. Her prose often runs a tad long, but in general the book's manuscript is pretty solid.
Chris Wedge provides the book's foreword, which stresses the enlightening, wide-eyed view of the natural world that the filmmakers seem to have adopted - Wedge calls it a "magical state of awareness". Sure, it gets a little bombastic and over-the-top, but it's great to see a director talk with such unbridled passion about a project.
An issue I did find was with the actual arrangement of the book: it was odd. Normally with these types of book you'll get sections about the film's characters, sections about the world and the scenes, and so forth; The Art of Epic just kind of flits between characters and key scenes: a good guy here, a bad guy there, here a scene, there a scene, etc... It's not always particularly coherent.
That said, the artwork on display in The Art of Epic is thoroughly engaging. The beautiful world around us has provided brilliant stimulus for the talented artists at Blue Sky Studios and there is an absolute tonne of beautiful, vibrant and serene artwork.
But, compared to similarly nature-coloured books like The Art of The Croods, The Art of Epic is very one-noted. That is to say, there's some green, some more green, and a lot more green, but not a lot besides. Don't get me wrong, the artwork is stunning, but it just doesn't show the diversity you get in some Art books, like Wreck-It Ralph's or Rise of the Guardians'.
I particularly admired the work of Mike Lee, David Dribble, Michael Knapp, Ric Sluiter, Robert MacKenzie and Kyle MacNaughton. David Dribble because of his delightfully abstract colour keys, and Ric Sluiter because of his lavishly detailed and vibrantly coloured sketches.
Said talented artists - including friend of A113Animation, Tyler Carter - also contributed some great quotations, peering behind the Blue Sky curtain, and it's evident that the team are as fond of Epic and its message as Chris Wedge is.
Bennett also acquired several quotes from William Joyce, the author of the original book, The Leaf Men and the Brave Good Bugs, on which the film is based. Joyce has worked with Wedge and Blue Sky before, on Robots; he also co-wrote and executive produced DreamWorks' Rise of the Guardians last year. I've had the chance to speak to Bill before, and he's a great, nice, down-to-earth guy with a real penchant for storytelling, so I hope Epic finds the mass audience that Guardians never quite managed to.
|Colour Script: David Dribble, Michael Knapp, Mike Lee, Robert MacKenzie and Jake Panian|
By all accounts, Epic is an absolutely beautiful film, if not always well told or original. Somewhat similarly, The Art of Epic isn't always the best constructed or most diverse book in the world, but it does feature a lot of really beautiful artwork (including a brilliantly complete colour script which is just a delight to pore over) and sheer passion from the crew. I would still thoroughly recommend The Art of Epic, and it's certainly piqued my curiosity about the film - plus, hey, if you're British, you can maybe get it for free anyway.
The Art of Epic, by Tara Bennett, Titan Books. [3rd May 2013, £24.99 (UK); $34.95 (US)].
You can order a copy of The Art of Epic and support A113Animation by going through our Amazon Associates links above (UK, left; US, right).