Nic’s Review (09/02/2014):
The animated film that kicked off the DreamWorks’ story is about, clearly, ants and one ant in particular whose quest to find his identity and win the princess’ heart is thwarted by an enemy who enforces conformity to a ‘hive mind’ in order to manipulate the colony to his needs.
You might be wondering, wow that sounds familiar. Well because it is. ‘A Bug’s Life’ such a plot and message. Released close together at the end of 1998, the similarities between ‘Antz’ and ‘A Bug’s Life’ are well documented and began a feud between Pixar and DreamWorks and their respective founders that lasts even to this day. There is no doubt Dreamworks is Pixar’s main rival in the animation industry. They were the only two CG animation companies in the 90s and both created formulas for their films that would later be picked up by the entire industry, for better or for worse. And it is one of these formulas that is conceived in the film that ignited the rivalry.
‘Antz’ is a DreamWorks movie through and through. It is as different from ‘Bug’s’ as it is similar.
The pop culture humour, sometimes bordering on adult, the tongue-in-cheek dialogue, the annoying secondary characters. This is the DreamWorks formula, ditching class for fun. In some of their films, as I’ll see later, they nail this ‘fun’ aspect better than many Pixar films but other times the lack of heart at the core of the film really prevents you from connecting to their characters.
‘Antz’ despite it’s mind-boggling 95% on Rotten Tomatoes, is to me one of those films. It has a lot of things going for it, the darker tone than ‘A Bug’s Life’, the jokes are actually funny most of the time, and the story-albeit partly stolen- is a solid romp.
It’s just that in the end, I don’t care about protagonist ‘Zee’ that much. Nor does the rushed-looking animation help (I know it’s the second CG animation ever but it was put together in little more than a year and both ‘Toy Story’ and ‘A Bug’s Life’ look much better), or the unnecessary use of songs. And, my god, does the villain pale in comparison to Hopper.
I can see why people liked it in 1998. It was different from anything before with it’s witty, self-aware sense of humour and it’s moral, that the individual is important, is well woven.
It’s a shame the animation and characterisation let’s the film down. It could have been one of DreamWorks’ best.
Daniel’s Review (25/02/2016):
Before ‘Shrek’, there was ‘Antz’, DreamWorks Animation’s first, and maybe forgotten, film in their massive library of animated features.
Can you believe that I’ve never seen ‘Antz’ before, and while I have heard of the film before, I just never got around to it, which is fortunate for the year of animation reviews.
‘Antz’ follows Z, an ant who lives under New York City in a massive colony filled with ants. The colony is split into two sectors, one being the workers and the other being soldiers. Z meets up with a princess named Bala, and instantly falls in loves with her. Wanting to see her again, he switches places with his friend Corporal Weaver.
While the animation is slightly outdated now, you have to remember this is the first CGI film produced by DreamWorks Animation. Although, ‘Toy Story’ looks better than ‘Antz’ and that was released three years earlier.
The film is surprisingly dark, and violent at times, leading more for an adult audience, however there are some clever jokes and witty dialogue that kids can enjoy. Although, the film’s pacing is off at times, and didn’t really found the whole Insect-topia as an engaging storyline, finding the workers ant revolution much more enjoyable.
‘Antz’ is clever, it’s humorous and has a solid story, but found some of the characters uninspiring and uninteresting.