Antz (1998)

Genres - Comedy, Fantasy  |   Sub-Genres - Fantasy Comedy  |   Release Date - Oct 2, 1998 (USA)  |   Run Time - 83 min.  |   Countries - Turkey, United States  |   MPAA Rating - PG
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Review by Derek Armstrong

What a masterstroke to graft Woody Allen's neurotic schtick onto a creature with great allegorical cause for feeling insignificant: an ant born into a colony of millions, indistinguishable from his neighbors. The opening scene of Antz, in which Allen's Z reports his psychological malaise to a therapist, sets audiences up for the way the film will work on multiple levels. Only the second film to be entirely digital, after Toy Story (1995), the film is not content to be merely an odyssey of visual stimuli -- it also has the wry intelligence to exist as a loving lampoon of Allen's work. Allen is just one of many who do assured vocal work on the project, with Sylvester Stallone and Sharon Stone also offering mild riffs on their familiar personas. Inevitably compared and contrasted with its CGI insect competition, A Bug's Life, released by Disney and Pixar later that year, A Bug's Life may be the more cuddly and kid-friendly movie (the battle scene in Antz is not really appropriate for younger viewers), but Antz boasts a superior script. Plus, it earns points for the risky artistic decision to make the ants look realistic -- in other words, brown, rather than their plastic blue color in Pixar's film. Pacific Data Images knew it had a dynamic story and slick visuals, and it didn't need to enhance this essentially earth-toned world with pastels. Viewers aching for color will get a good enough dose when the ants go in search of Insectopia -- at which point it assumes thematic resonance, a symbol of the quest for a better world.