A Bug's Life
Director(s): John Lasseter and Andrew Stanton
Writer(s): Andrew Stanton, Donald McEnery and Bob Shaw
Cast: Dave Foley, Joe Ranft, Hayden Panettiere, Denis Leary, Richard Kind, Madeline Kahn, David Hyde Pierce, Bonnie Hunt, Jonathan Harris, Brad Garrett, Phyllis Diller, Julia Louis-Dreyfus, Kevin Spacey and John Ratzenberger
Reviewed by: Ian Evans on
Release Date(s)Nov 25, 1998 - Wide
The battle of the bugs has finally hit the big screen in 1998. Two major studios have released two similar insect-related computer-animated films in the same year. DreamWorks SKG was the first out of the gate with Antz. On November 25th, Disney/Pixar sent their version, A Bug’s Life, into box office battle.
The films have some interesting similarities and differences. Both feature an ant that wants to be different. Both feature battle scenes. Both have an evil villain. Both have a princess ant that the hero loves.
They also have differences. Antz aims more at adults and it is in many ways a computer-animated Woody Allen film, featuring his dialogue and comedy styling. A Bug’s Life aims more at children, with lovable characters that will easily become action figures and stuffed toys. The villain in Antz is an evil soldier ant. The enemy in A Bug’s Life is the leader of a gang of food-stealing grasshoppers. Antz features the voices of Hollywood’s A-List: Sharon Stone, Woody Allen, Gene Hackman, and Sylvester Stallone. A Bug’s Life, with the exception of Kevin Spacey and Denis Leary, has TV’s A-list: David Foley, Julia Louis-Dreyfus, and David Hyde Pierce.
So similarities abound. Who cares? Both films are highly entertaining and should be seen just to marvel at the computer animation. There’s a CGI bird in A Bug’s Life that pushes the envelope of the art form.
Now let me clarify that though A Bug’s Life is aimed more at kids than Antz was does not mean that adults shouldn’t be going. It is an uproariously funny film and despite being a mature individual you will find yourself cheering for the good guys.
The hero in A Bug’s Life is Flik (David Foley) who wants to help his colony survive the food raids launched by Hopper (Kevin Spacey), the leader of a gang of vicious grasshoppers who take the old Grasshopper and the Ant fable to a higher level.
His attempts at helping the colony actually end up destroying the yearly offering the ants make and Flik finds himself in deep trouble with the colony. Princess Atta (Louis-Dreyfus) sends him on a mission to find help which she hopes will end with him being eaten and allowing the colony to go back to its old ways.
Flik survives his trek and stumbles upon a motley group of insects recently fired from a flea circus. He mistakes them for warriors and since they’re in trouble with some locals, they gladly allow him to think that. Upon returning to Flik’s colony, they realize the seriousness of what they’ve gotten themselves into. His reputation at stake, Flik must convince them to join in and help him confront Hopper’s gang of grasshoppers.
Like Antz, A Bug’s Life is not just a spectacular exhibition of computer wizardry. The writers have given us fun and interesting characters that drive the action forward. The villains are evil and the heroes are heroic. There is tension, battles, comedy, new love and loyal friendships. If only the live-action action films could learn the same lesson.
One word of warning: don’t leave until the credits finish. The animators have shot a devilishly funny set of fake outtakes.
Who wins the battle of the bugs? The audience. Go and see both films and have yourself a thoroughly enjoyable time.