Tuesday, August 25, 2015

Antz (1998) review


   Antz still remains one of the most nostalgic animated films from my childhood, earning more respect with its all-star cast, creative animation, pleasant storytelling, and an appealing dark side.

PLOT: Z (Woody Allen) is just your average worker ant in a colony of ants. However, Z isn't happy with his place in life and never has been. One night, when Z and his best friend, army ant Weaver (Sylvester Stallone), go to the bar, Z gets a chance to dance, unknowingly, with Princess Bala (Sharon Stone). When Z finally finds out this fact, he figures he'd switch places with Weaver in order to see the Princess. What Z doesn't know is that, on the day they switch places, the army's going to war with vicious termites. Through all this, however, Z lives to be the lone survivor and an icon among his peers. Things are going great for Z up until he meets Princess Bala. In a strange turn of events, Z "takes the princess hostage" and flees to the outside world. Now Z and the Princess must either agree to go home or go on to discover the legendary Insectopia, but what they don't know is that General Mandible (Gene Hackman) has a few fatal plans for the anthill. The plot is very well thought out and executed brilliantly, with a perfect balance of humor and dark.

VOICES: The voice acting for the film is very well cast and performed. I can imagine no one but Woody Allen suitable enough for the part of neurotic Z. Everybody does a great job, especially (aside from Allen) Sylvester Stallone as Weaver, Sharon Stone as Princess Bala, Danny Glover as selfless army ant, Barbadus, Jennifer Lopez as friendly worker ant, Azteca, and Christopher Walken as Col. Cutter. This is one of the few animated films that boasts a cast as diverse and all-star as this without ruining it.

SCORE: The score is very upbeat, inspiring, and at times, kind of delightful. Harry-Gregson Willams definitely brings some of his best work to the table for this film. The catchy version of "High Hopes" during the credits has also become very nostalgic.

ANIMATION: The animation for this film is not only nostalgic, but very innovative for its time. The ants actually somewhat resemble their voice actors, the background and effects for the outside world are both colorful and almost whimsical, and the animation for the war/death scenes are very gruesome. This type of animation may be outdated today, but it's still very excellently done for DreamWorks debut.

OTHER CONTENT: This film is probably one of the most memorable, nostalgic films from my childhood, but to the dismay of DreamWorks fans, I feel it pales in comparison to Pixar's A Bug's Life. Had I never seen A Bug's Life, this film would be perfect, but Pixar set my standard for insect movies. In comparison, this film is more dark, less kid-friendly, sloppier with animation, and less creative with its settings and insect variety. Pixar just made their bug movie more clean cut, while DreamWorks went for the risky choice. This film is still fantastic in most every way, winning over Pixar with only clever humor, but there can only be one best.

   Antz, though not the best, is definitely a nostalgic, impressive, and even fun watch for families and people who grew up around the same time as I. Everything from the animation to the score is excellently done.

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