Since we already have a review of Blue Sky’s newest animated feature Epic, I’ll just give you my $0.02 version: Looks beautiful, weak story, very weak characters.
It wasn’t like the characters didn’t look good, though! It’s just that nothing really filled how great the characters looked. One example was Mandrake, Epic‘s main antagonist.
At least the bad guy wasn’t a careless land developer. SO glad the film didn’t go that direction.
Visually, Mandrake is the shiz. He’s got the “barbarian warlord” outfit down perfectly, with the spooky bat fur and stuff. His jaw is big and square enough to make even Duke Nukem jealous. He’s got a massive army of half-shark, half-Lamanites at his disposal. You’d think he’d be an awesome villain, right?
Oh ho! But as I watched the film he was really found lacking. And when I left the theater I was convinced that Mandrake could possibly be one of the most disappointing animated villains of the past few years. In fact, I don’t know who I think is worse, Mandrake or Anastasia’s Rasputin, who was ridiculed quite a bit on the Anastasia episode of The Animation Addicts Podcast.
I say “disappointing” instead of “omg worst ever” because there are a few villains in recent animated films that I kind of expected to be lame. Like the Cars 2 evil car monocle guy. Blue Sky is one of my favorite studios, and I was really hoping for something a little more epic.
Let’s examine some specific points here. (BEWARE: SPOILERS)
The scene where he gets information from Bufo (aka Pitbull the Frog).
This is what I was expecting to happen:
Bufo: “Okay Mr. Mandrake, I let you know where the pod is. So I’ll just be going…”
Mandrake: “Oh no, my slimy friend! My minions are hungry! And I cannot deny them fresh frog legs! Such a delicacy!”
Bufo: “N-n-no! Please!”
*Boggans close in on Bufo*
Mandrake: “Bwahahahahahahahaha! FEAST, MY CHILDREN!”
Bufo: “Aruuruuruafghhghafsdadfagh!” *CRUNCH RIP SPLAT SPLOOSH CRUNCH SNAP*
That last part happens off-screen. Golly, why aren’t I a screenwriter?
But instead we never really find out what happened to Bufo. It was kind of like:
Bufo: “Okay Mandrake, I gave you the information. Can I go now?”
Mandrake: “Oh yeah, thanks buddy! Do you need me to call a bat to take you home?”
Voiced by Christopher Waltz, who from what I understand, did a couple of Tarantinos and some German movies. The voice really didn’t fit the character. Sorry folks. It was like he was menacing but not menacing enough, and comical but not trying to be funny.
Mandrake’s Poor Use of Resources
In one scene it is revealed that Mandrake has literally millions of goons awaiting his command, and they all have bats to ride. And then they all go over to Happy Tree Land to block out the moon, blah blah blah. It just seems like he’s got his war priorities mixed up.
If he’s got bazillions of Boggans ready to tear it up, why didn’t he just launch an all-out assault on Leaf Land in the first place? He could have killed Queen Beyonce Barbie, stolen the pod, and enslaved the forest folk. I guess the queen was just too powerful? I don’t know about that. She went down after like one arrow. Boromir should have been queen.
I dunno. But besides being nearly as lame as Anastasia‘s Raspy, they actually share some funky similarities. Maybe that’s why I’m juxtaposing the two in my mind. It’s even given rise to a Mason Theory that Mandrake is somehow related to Rasputin (could Mandrake be WEARING BARTOK?).
- Both of them live underground surrounded by death and decay.
- Both of them want revenge on the good guys because something was taken from them.
- Both are probably very stinky.
- Both are obsessed with stealing away a precious something “in the dark of the night”.
This is all a dog-gone shame really, because Epic looked amazing and had some really cool stuff in it. So Blue Sky reps, please have mercy on me if I ever apply at your studio.
In the end, I can’t decide which is the worst villain. But I do know something is wrong when I find myself comparing the bad guy from a movie with so much promise to the super-lame Rasputin. Since the end of Epic hinted at a sequel where Mandrake comes back, maybe he can take some villain lessons from, say, Mulan‘s Shun Yu before they start filming.
Fan art drawn by Yours Truly. Follow @masonsmtx