Was anyone wondering why this movie was released the same time A Bug’s Life was released? Trust me on this: it was not a coincidence. In a public feud between Pixar and DreamWorks, the box office numbers meant a lot to both producers. The result? Two mediocre, Hollywood-safe kid’s films. Kind of anticlimactic, I know.
But who won you ask? Undeniably A Bug’s Life. It doubled the revenue of Antz, with similar budget numbers. Lasseter, the director of Toy Story and A Bug’s Life, went as far as to say Antz was a “schlock version” of A Bug’s Life. Ouch. However, I’m going to say that I’m on Lasseter’s side, without his emotionally-driven criticisms.
I’m going to get my subjective opinions on this movie out of the way first: I really didn’t understand the color scheme. Brown. Really? Everything is brown. The ants are brown, the dirt is brown, the rocks are brown, the entire ant hill is brown. I couldn’t understand this decision. It’s just so boring and dull to look at, which is important in a completely animated film! To be fair, the journey our two protagonists make to a place called “insectopia” is visually a fresh breath of air.
Now that I got that out of the way, I do think Antz used the whole ant concept better. While I found myself questioning the bug concept of A Bug’s Life, I fully understood why Antz had to use ants: it is an attack to blinding totalitarianism and maybe restrictive monarchy. Okay, big words; you’re probably wondering if this stuff is going to fly over the heads of children. No, it will not. The biggest problem of Antz is that it is trying to target adults while worrying endlessly about the kids. The message is made so explicit that I felt like it hit me in the head. Ow!
While there were no real story element problems in A Bug’s Life, there are actually some in Antz. There is this confusing scene where all the worker ants refuse to work because our protagonist, Z, kidnapped the princess… uhh… why do these ants want to be like Z? I guess this shows how morally-inept these ants are, but that directly contradicts the appeal of the ending where all these ants live. Definitely not a good decision on DreamWorks’ part.
So I know I’ve been complaining a lot, but I think I’m doing that because I have no idea how this received a 95% on Rotten Tomatoes’ tomatometer. However, the fans have it right this time: this is not a very good movie, and you all know why. It doesn’t do anything bad necessarily, but at the same time, it doesn’t do anything memorable.
Final Grade: C- (70%)—Overshadowed by the brighter and more kid-friendly A Bug’s Life.