"Epic" doesn't live up to its namesake. And it never really strives for such a label.

It's a competently made, if incredibly derivative film that proves ephemeral.

Though a worthy cause, Hollywood should self-impose a moratorium on save-the-forest movies. In this case, it's "FernGully" meets "Honey, I Shrunk the Kids." Both story angles have their moments but can't shake an overwhelming inevitability.

Forced to live with her father after her mom's death, Mary Katherine, or "M.K." (Amanda Seyfried), suddenly is the size of an insect; she finally sees the forest her scientist father (Jason Sudeikis) has been exploring for years, intent on exposing a miniature army of creatures too fast and small to be detected by the human eye. M.K. teams up with the miniature legion to fend off the evil Mandrake (Christoph Waltz), who is desperate to turn the forest into a playground of rotting decay.

On screen
» Rating: 2 out of 4 stars
» Starring: Amanda Seyfried, Colin Farrell, Christoph Waltz, Beyonce Knowles and Aziz Ansari
» Director: Chris Wedge
» Rated: PG for mild action, some scary images and brief rude language
» Running time: 102 minutes

It's a wonder that studios devote years to crafting the look of a film but so little time to actual storytelling. The kids will enjoy it -- I heard an "awesome" or two in my screening -- but even they might have a hard time remembering anything beyond a few flourishes.

An inspired opening act in which forest warriors flee Mandrake's cronies effectively utilizes the 3-D technology, but the movie doesn't entirely justify the higher ticket price.

Blue Sky, the animation studio behind "Ice Age", created "Epic". Like that series, this has an impressive assortment of big-name voices but doesn't really give them much to say. The most notable exception is Aziz Ansari, who plays a smooth-talking slug and delivers plenty of comedic relief. In contrast, Beyonce Knowles hardly has the chops to pull off the queen of the forest and she sounds wooden next to the likes of Waltz and Colin Farrell.

Writing this review just a few days after seeing "Epic," it's a struggle to cobble together a string of lasting moments. You could have worse diversions -- but that's not exactly a winning movie title.