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Click above to purchase "Antz Signature Selection" at amazon.com

 

Antz
Signature Selection

review by Zach B.

Rated PG

Studio: Dreamworks

Running Time: 83 minutes

With the Voices of Woody Allen, Sharon Stone, Sylvester Stallone, Jennifer Lopez, Gene Hackman, Christopher Walken, Anne Bancroft, Danny Glover, Dan Akroyd, Jane Curtain

Screenplay by Todd Alcott, Christ Weitz, Paul Weitz

Directed by Eric Darnell and Tim Johnson

Retail Price: $34.99

Features: Commentary with Directors Eric Darnell and Tim Johnson, Production Featurette, Basics Of Computer Animation, Antz Facial Animation, Character Design, TV Spots, Cast and Crew Bios, Production Notes, Theatrical Trailer

Specs: 1.85:1 Anamorphic Widescreen, English Dolby Digital 5.1, English Subtitles, Chapter Search (26 Chapters)

1998 was the year moviegoers saw double. First within a few weeks at the start of the summer movie season there was "Deep Impact" and "Armageddon", two movies about the possible destruction of the Earth in part of a flying object crashing down from space. In the Fall, it came together again when "Antz" and "A Bug's Life" went head to head, two movies about oppressed ants who want to rise up against an opposing bad force... and each had a lot of bugs and computer animated.

Still, Dreamworks beat Disney with "Antz". It launched at the start of October of 1998, being pushed from a March 1999 date. The movie earned raves and was a great box office success. While "A Bug's Life" was aimed more toward kids, "Antz" focused on more adult themes, things that would fly over the head of kids.

"Antz" is really a good movie for kids and adults alike, but adults will likely get more out of it. The film follows Z (Woody Allen), an ant who works for the colony, like so many other ants. Z, however, is very insecure about who he is and regularly sees a shrink. He just feels there is a better life out there and more to experience. Things kick into high gear when Z and his best friend, Weaver, (Sly Stallone) switch places as workers and soldiers, and Z is the sole survivor of a major war against termites. Z is a hero, and sparks a revolution of some kind with what he did and his ideas, mainly on free thinking. However, Z becomes public enemy one when he is accused of kidnapping Princess Bala (Sharon Stone) and ends up leaving the colony and getting lost in the real world with her. They both must get back and save the colony from the evil and manipulative General Mandible (Gene Hackman).

"Antz" is a very strong and entertaining movie. Though the trailer orgiinally turned me off (I didn't think it was so clear about the movie), I saw it in the theater and did like it. It makes a very good about being yourself and thinking for yourself. It also has some pretty impressive computer animation with great textures and colors. The animation also flows really smooth. I mentioned the adult jokes, but the script from the Weitz brothers ("American Pie" creative team and stars of Chuck & Buck) and Todd Alcott is very strong, they all have a good perspective. But the most impressive part for me was the all star cast. Woody Allen doing the main voice? It's all here, and he really carries the movie with his neurotic charm. I heard he did the voice as a favor to his old friend, Jeffery Katzenberg. Also in the cast is Sly Stallone, Jennifer Lopez, Christopher Walken, Gene Hackman, Danny Glover and Sharon Stone. Everyone actually pretty much plays themselves in ant form, and all the voices are excellent.

As far as which movie I like better, I don't know. Each seem the same but are very different in many ways. I wish things found in "Antz" were in "A Bug's Life" and vicey versa. Each movie featured some stellar animation and excellent voice acting, but I liked the flow better in "A Bug's Life" and I felt some characters in "Antz" were annoying. I also felt the movie went kind of slow, and didn't live up to what it could have. Still, it does have a lot and a very good story too, just like "A Bug's Life".

Don't get me wrong, "Antz" is really enjoyable and while similar to "Bug's Life", it's also really different. Dreamworks has put together a stellar package for this movie, and it's worth owning.

You'd think this movie was a direct digital transfer, but it's from an actual print and it's really, really impressive. There's some small blemishs and dirt here and there, but other than that, perfection. This is one clean print. It really pops out and is really, really vibrant and shows the movie's visual beauty so well (check out 00:06:03 and the whole wrecking ball scene). There's a lot of visual textures to admire and a lot of bold colors. It's just really striking and great to look at, especially the sequences with some tricky lighting, those really shine. I was blown away by this transfer and you will be too. The movie is in 1.85:1 anamorphic widescreen (the extra resolution does bring out more) like the box says, but the disc itself says 2.35:1 in a stupid misprint. Oh well.

"Antz" has a very strong Dolby Digital 5.1 mix. The shoe sequence, the chase with Bala and Z plus the cliamtic finale bring a lot of tension, a great deal of directional effects and surrounds. There are plenty of surround effects in many scenes to really bring you into the ant colony and bug world, to really make you feel part of the experience. This track is really well mixed. I really liked the score in this movie (from Harry Gregson-Williams and John Powell). I wish there was an isolated effects and an isolated music track. This is one top notch mix. English subtitles are also included.

An excellent Commentary With Directors Eric Darnell and Tim Johnson is included. They're really warm and really screen specific, and one of the best commentaries I've had the pleasure of listening to. Once the movie starts, they don't stop. They're really funny, energetic and have a lot of to talk about. They make really good points and have a lot of praise for their cast and crew, and seem to be happy with the final product and had a blast working on the film. Don't think, you must listen to this commentary!

The Production Featurette has clips, interviews with most of the voice actors (but no Allen, though he's mentioned), and some behind the scenes clips. It's pretty good, though pretty promotional. It also has information on the computer animation. It's promo, but still a good watch.

Basics Of Computer Animation gives a more in depth look at the CGI process than the featurette. It's pretty interesting and informative. Darnell and Johnson offer a commentary as they go through some key scenes. They show the storyboards, rough computer animation, a build up of it and the final animation. It's a lot like the Disney progress demo reels which they show or you use the angle feature for. Of course, this is like the reel. Still, Darnell and Johnson offer good commentary yet again and it's interesting to see the original boards to final product.

Antz Facial Animation also has commentary from Darnell and Johnson, as they show a demo of how facial expressions and layering of a character's face work, in this case, Z. Short, but still interesting.

Antz Character Design is the third and final featurette that has a commentary with the directors, and they go through original concept art and how characters evolved. It's over ten minutes and all concept art, and it's pretty interesting to see what they were going for.

Round out the disc are four TV Spots, a Cast List and Bios for Darnell and Johnson, nicely written Production Notes (also in the keep case insert) and the original Theatrical Trailer in full frame and two channel sound.

"Antz" is geared more toward adults, but kids are still to enjoy it. "Antz" is an excellent showpiece for your home theater, and has some great extras that go pretty deep into the movie's production. While the price is a bit high, there's a lot here. If you liked this bug movie, you should buy it.

(3.5/5 - NOT included in final score)

(4.5/5)

(4.5/5)

(3/5)

(3.5/5, NOT an average)

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