“Epic”: The latest animated film by Blue Sky Studios (“Rio,” “Ice Age”) follows a young girl called M.K. (voiced by Amanda Seyfried) as she is magically transported to a miniature forest wonderland to help turn the tide against the evil Boggans and their ruthless leader Mandrake (Christoph Waltz). Whereas DreamWorks has made its billions making less sentimental and more exciting takes on emotional saturated narratives that have made Pixar the most overpraised production company in film history, Blue Sky makes frantically paced movies the leave most of the meaningful moralizing for third action, having long ago realized that you can’t out emote Andrew Stanton and John Lasseter, but you sure as hell can out funny them.
But Because Blue Sky’s action comedies don’t operate in the same nostalgic sphere as their competitors, director Chris Wedges (“Ice Age”) will never know the overwhelming acclaim of his contemporaries but he can take solace in the fact as a simple craftsmen, unburdened with making art, he’ll never experience the entitled backlash that the Pixar brain trust is feeling now the public has realized that as a Disney imprint, artistic integrity and original storytelling has never been anybody’s chief concern. After all, you can’t really hate something that you never cared about in the first place. Also featuring the voices Beyoncé, Josh Hutcherson and Aziz Ansari.
Special features: A digital copy of the film, a 3D presentation of the film, a storytelling app and five featurettes.
“Amour”: Michael Haneke’s (“White Ribbon”) unremitting look at love and aging. Georges (Jean Loauis-Trintignat) and Anna (Emmanuelle Riva) are two retired professors whose bond is tested once Anna is crippled by a devastating stroke and Georges finds himself overwhelmed by the demands of Anna’s condition. While “Amour” is no less shocking or stark than Haneke’s early work, it is more sentimental. The obvious empathy he has for Georges and Anna is bracingly when compared to the usual cool detachment with which Haneke usual presents his characters. This story clearly speaks to the notably inscrutable director on a deeper emotional level than his oppressively hermetic morality tales. Here, the “Funny Games” filmmaker drops the intellectual provocations and winches in the face of the inevitable. Also starring Isabella Huppert, Alexandre Tharaud and Rita Blanco.
Special features: Two featurettes.
“Scary Movie 5”: While I originally compared watching a non-Wayans Brothers “Scary Movie” sequels to unanesthetized dental surgery, thinking about “Scary Movie 5” fills me with the kind of mean-spirited joy that usually only accompanies watching an aggressive pompous celebrity take a public pratfall. The reason for my schadenfreude is that as the film, while not a flop, made almost $80 million dollars less than any of its predecessors. In fact, this loathsome pop culture “parody” made less than any of Jason Friedberg and Aaron Seltzer’s atrocious genre blending “Scary Movie” clones. The undeniable weak gross of this film and Marlon Wayans’ similarly themed “A Haunted House” seems to indicate after 13 years of producing increasingly unwatchable but inexplicably popular garbage, the “Movie Movies” brand might have finally lost its wide-spread appeal. The notion that these vile lazy, sub “Mad TV” spoofs might have seen their day is more heartening that the success of any low-budget indie. Also starring Ashley Tisdale, Simon Rex and Erica Ash.
Special features: A digital copy of the film and alternate and extended scenes.
Mario McKellop has written about film on Examiner for the last three years and can be reached directly at firstname.lastname@example.org.