& Crew info:
Hayden Pane Hiere
Darla K. Anderson and Kevin Reher; Directed by John
Lasseter and Andrew Stanton; Screenwritten by John
Lasseter, Don McEnery, Joe Ranft, Bob Shaw and Andrew Stanton
Rated G; Running Time - 96 Minutes
November 25, 1998
by DAVID KEYES
it me or do movies always come in pairs? Two years ago,
we had a twin set of volcano movies, and earlier last year
we had two films about projectiles in space exploding on
the Earthís surface (comets and meteors, to be specific).
Now we have two films about insects, and Iím left with some
sort of puzzled mind. What is it with these things?
situations like this, itís usually the first film that gets
better recognition. Even more importantly, the first films
are better than the second ones 99 times out of 100. By
the time the second one rolls around, the structure and
formula of the previous one is evident and not as entertaining
as it was the first time around. But hereís that one exception:
Disneyís new PIXAR project, "A Bugís Life", is a movie more
intelligent, more neat, more spectacular, and more fitting
of attention than Dreamworksí "Antz" from earlier this fall.
It may seem like Disney always triumphs over the other competition,
but how could we resist? This is a charming, sprawling,
visually elegant triumph of a movie. The minute you see
those bugs buzz through those tiny large backyard worlds
is the minute you feel like youíve been transported into
their dimension. Seeing the movie is like having it happen
to you; in fact, the worlds of animation are so stunning
and observant that you wish you were part of them.
Bugís Life" is a follow-up to "Toy Story" that almost no
Disney fan can believe; meaning, itís a film ten times better,
ten times more important, ten times more stunning, and ten
times more amusing than the other. Itís hard to consider
that anything could break new ground off of "Toy Story",
but in this case, an exception is made. Itís about (you
guessed it) our little insect world and all of their lives
as they unfold in a society only seen by their eyes. In
the opening shots, we meet a colony of ants gathering food
for a harvest down under the soil; beans, leaves, vegetable
particles, fruits--the stuff youíd expect ants to be able
to carry. They gather this food because they are the worker
ants, and instead of delivering it to their high and mighty
queen (Phyllis Diller), they are forced to deliver it to
a viscous, snarling grasshopper, appropriately named Hopper
(Kevin Spacey). The ants are his army, sort of; they come,
they pick up the food, and deliver it to their Ďleader.í
Itís a tradition; Hopper has owned this colony for quite
sometime, apparently. Some of the grasshoppers think that
they can be better off without ever having to go back to
the ant colony for food, but their leader sees otherwise.
He is willing to stick to his job; as long as he is not
the one picking up the food and delivering it, what should
it matter? Itís like free room service for life.
not so fast. Once the grasshoppers have departed, concerns
begin to build up. But what if they could find "bigger bugs"
to come help and fight? This is where our protagonist steps
in: a wildly creative inventor named Flik (Dave Foley) is
assigned to go out into the free world and gather up other
bugs and insects that they could use as assets in their
armies. He finds a whole bunch of them, too; one such is
a ladybug who, as we like to say, is quite "unladylike."
Flik at first seems convinced that these bugs can be great
assets in overthrowing the grasshoppers from their colony.
Too bad, though, that these bugs arenít trained for combat.
Actually, theyíre all circus bugs who think that Flik is
some sort of talent scout who could expose them to great
success in the bug entertainment biz.
story itself is simple enough to understand, but all around
it, these plot twists and characters are formed to generate
more than typical interest in the film. Stories in these
movies tend to seem uninteresting and not very pleasing,
even for computer animation, and without a proper setting
of characters and/or intellect, the movieís stunning computer
animation suffocates everything else. "Antz" used a story
that seemed to go nowhere, but thanks to some of the interesting
character setups in "A Bugís Life", we have here a movie
that truly stands out (especially on DVD, which has proven
to viewers that movies donít always lose their beauty once
on the television screen).
addition, the animation seems to be improving for these
things. "Antz" dealt with more brown and gray colors to
occupy the desolate landscape; it played on the same visual
note that the rooms and human characters of "Toy Story"
did. "A Bugís Life" fills in the gap with rich colors and
visual appeal; they are so lifelike that itís what youíd
expect to see under a magnifying glass. Sometimes, you even
feel like youíre on that journey with Flik to recruit bugs
for the army. The color and visual style are so appealing
that itís unbelievably realistic, sort of.
walked away not disappointed, but for once, impressed. I
must admit that "Toy Story" and "Antz" were fairly respectable
movies, but they had their limits as far as pushing the
imagination goes. Now, thanks to hard work and devotion
of PIXAR and the computer animated artists, we can finally
be exposed to more than just limited creativity. This time,
we are exposed to the unlimited journey of the minds and
portraits that go through these animatorsí minds. I guess
the third time really is the charm.
1998, David Keyes, Cinemaphile.org.
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if the above review contains any spelling or grammar mistakes.