on November 19, 2002
PIXAR is a truly innovative company that is literally redefining what can be accomplished with computer animation. The company has a much longer history than many are aware of, they were once part of George Lucas's empire before the company was sold and then taken public by Steve Jobs of Apple fame.
"Bug's Life", is my favorite full-length film from PIXAR although there are individual character creations from other films like, "Monsters Inc.", that also rate amongst their best computer generated thespians. This film has a great story, and great performances from a host of players including Kevin Spacey, Kevin Foley as Flick, and Phyllis Diller as The Ant Queen. The list continues with Denis Leary, Madeline Kahn, and Roddy McDowall as Mr. Soil.
The extras that are included on the disc are almost worth the cost of the disc alone. Both sets of, "outtakes", are included, and these provide some of the best moments of humor in the film. They are so well done; you get a similar feeling of seeing an actor in a traditional film making an error as opposed to just a computerized character. The fact that these characters don't exist, either means that I get a bit too lost in these films, or PIXAR is that good. I tend to believe it's the latter.
One of the more notable experiences was watching the film short, "Geri's Game", once again. When this was first released in 1997 the realism that was presented was almost hard to believe. Now only 5 years later it not only shows its age, certain aspects look like nothing more than well drawn cartoons. The trees in, "A Bug's Life", can pass for the real item, in the short film, the idea of realism for the trees never occurs. This in no way is meant as criticism, quite the opposite, the folks at PIXAR have continued to push past barriers at an amazing rate so that each subsequent film exceeds the first. I believe you can watch the films and place them in order of release, even if this is the first time you have viewed them.
And PIXAR is showing no signs of slowing down much less pausing, as a look at the trailer for their next film demonstrates. Next Spring, "Finding Nemo", will open, and based on the trailers I have seen, they have once again raised the bar by a factor of 10. This time they will take you to a world created under the sea, and the bits I have viewed will leave your jaw a bit slack.
PIXAR has redefined animation, and are rapidly creating a genre that needs a description all its own, computer animation does not place these creations in their own category, and they deserve one. PIXAR is not the only company producing great computer products, but so far they are the best and most consistent. I don't believe any other studio can state that every single film they have made resides securely in the top 100 grossing films of all time.
on July 11, 2004
As always, Pixar delivered a breath taking experience when they brought us A Bug's Life. While not overly realistic, the animation is bright and rich and incredibly detailed. The colours and textures suck you into their world.
The movie features a nice mix of humor and excitement. Some moments are full of suspense and tension.
The voice actors do a great job, particularly Kevin Spacey as the villain Hopper. He's truly menacing! When the voice talents are combined with Pixar's fabulous job of giving natural movements and mannerisms to each different species of insect the mix creates very believable characters.
As per usual Disney style there is a great moral to be learned through the story, about the importance of standing up for yourself, and how one small person truly can change the world.
The only drawback of the movie is that the characters are relatively shallow and underdeveloped when compared to Disney's usual level of complexity. However, when you consider that this film is based off of the fable "The Ant and the Grasshopper" it puts things into perspective and you appreciate how much imagination and creativity actually went into this project. The end result is highly entertaining and sure to be a classic in generations to come.
Many people forget about the bugs, but this little remembered gem was actually Pixar's second release. The folks behind the camera decided to switch focus from toys to insects, with remarkable results. And it is far better then that dreadful movie Antz.
Flik, a loner ant in a colony, inadvertently causes the destruction of the food offering to a gang of bully grasshoppers. He then sets off to right his mistake by trying to recruit warriors to help his colony. And by accident, he gets circus insects instead. Chaos and drama follow.
Canada's own Dave Foley brings Flik to life in so many ways, making me forgot it was him. Denis Leary plays the best ladybug ever, with nary a bleeped word in existence. And Phyllis Diller is well, Phyllis Diller. Actually she is the Queen Ant, and no that is not typecasting. Maybe.
Where It Came From:
Two very different stories influenced A Bug's Life. Aesop's The Ant and the Grasshopper is one of the strands referenced in the beginning. I have read some of Aesop, but my recollection of this one is hazy at best. After the plots kicks in, the movie transforms into Akira Kurosawa's Seven Samurai. I have heard much about this classic film, but to my shame have never seen it. Just leave it to Pixar to mix two such disparate elements and have them harmoniously blend together.
If you like bugs. If you like Pixar. If you like a good time. Then pop A Bug's Life into your dvd player and cherish this forgotten classic.
Those Pixar folk are amazing. Not only do they make an excellent movie, but they complement it with a first rate package of extras, especially the outtakes and the movie short "Geri's Game". The two-disc Collector's Editions are worth waiting for, and you will find yourself playing the second disc as often as the first.
This innovative take on the old fable "The Ant and the Grasshopper" teaches us a few important lessons:
1. There's a clumsy nerd who wants to be a hero in every colony
2. Phyllis Diller is an old queen
3. David Hyde Pierce is stiff
4. Julia Louis-Dreyfus is neurotic and can't dance
5. Grasshoppers live it up in Mexican joints during the Summer
6. German caterpillars are funny, and so are pill-bugs.
7. Ladybirds may not be ladies
8. Birds can be flammable
9. An ant may look at a queen
10. Don't stir up an ants nest
To maintain good family relations, you should allow your kids to watch this movie too.
Amanda Richards July 13, 2004
on March 29, 2004
"The Battle of the Bugs" is what the media labeled Dreamworks SKG's successful attempt to get their 3-D animated bug story released in theaters before Disney did, although the former began production several weeks after the latter. Whose film would be released first: The Company of Michael Eisner, or that of his former disgruntled employee Jeffrey Katzenberg? In retrospect, this behind-the-scenes drama seems more than a bit silly, because: 1) That a similarly-themed movie is released first does not necessarily guarantee bigger box office than its competition, and 2) The solidly-PG-rated ANTZ has less in common with the indisputably-G-rated A BUG'S LIFE than one might think, and 3) Therefore, each film attracted a different audience. As it turned out, both films were smash hits: ANTZ garnered better reviews; however, A BUG'S LIFE made a lot more money (as I'm sure it was destined to do).
Walt Disney Pictures' A BUG'S LIFE, co-directed by Andrew Stanton and John Lasseter, and released in October of 1998 (a full month after Dreamworks SKG's ANTZ), tells the very cute story of a not-so-bright worker ant simply named Flik, voiced by Canadian comedian Dave Foley. His constant bumbling attempts to help the ant colony drive the others to distraction, and to loathe him. I love the opening scene with Flik accidentally losing the yearly "offering" of food meant for the grasshoppers, who regularly exploit the ants for their own purposes. This leads to a very funny scene in which the grasshoppers angrily confront the ants, and demand satisfaction.
My advice is to see this film with an open mind; forget about "The Battle of the Bugs" as A BUG'S LIFE has really nothing whatsoever to do with ANTZ, with the only exception being that both films star a nerdy ant who attempts to win the affection of the ant colony princess. That's the only similarity! Otherwise, A BUG'S LIFE is a rather light story dealing with Flik's attempt to woo Princess Atta (Julia Louis-Dreyfus, brilliantly expressive in a superb comedic role) while he attempts to fix the aforementioned mess he made. Unfortunately for Flik, he is sent out of the ant colony all alone, and into the vast unknown, supposedly populated by big, scary bugs and other creatures. In his search for fierce warrior bugs to fight the grasshoppers, Flik unknowingly comes across a "bug circus" in which he is convinced that he has found the muscle that the ant colony needs. In what is one of the funniest scenes, Flik is welcomed back as the unlikely hero of the ant colony, impresses Princess Atta and then proceeds to find out the truth about these circus-performer bugs he has brought back with him. These bugs are hilarious, by the way. With Slim the walking stick (David Hyde Pierce), Heimlich the big fat German-accented caterpillar (Joe Ranft), the tough-talking male ladybug (Denis Leary), and Manny the old British-accented 'thespian bug' (Jonathan Harris--yep, Dr. Smith himself!), this is truly a motley crew of bugs if there ever was one. But the bug that really steals the show is the villain; the evil grasshopper leader Hopper (Kevin Spacey). Spacey's vocal performance is brilliant; so much so, in fact, that I had no idea it was Kevin Spacey until the first time I saw the end credits!
Spacey is hilariously deadpan while delivering lines like: "Do I look stupid to you? Do I? Do I...look...STUPID...to YOU? Let's just think about the logic for a second, shall we? If it [the offering] was UP THERE, why would I be DOWN HERE, LOOKING FOR IT??" Of course, as a typically self-referential Disney film, the screenwriters couldn't resist having fun with another Hopper line: "It's one of those Circle-of-Life things." Unfortunately, they gave some of the film's worst lines to The Queen (Phyllis Diller); for example, "It's our lot in life. It's not a lot, but it's our life! Ahahahaha!!" I'm sure Phyllis was paid enough to not care so much about the corniness of her lines, but still!
A BUG'S LIFE is an absolute triumph of 3-D CGI animation. It is a beautiful film to look at. The images are bright, sharp and colorful. This film offers a much better viewing experience than ANTZ, which has a more engaging storyline, but has mostly sepia-toned imagery that is neither as sharp or realistic-looking. Again, these are completely two different films: ANTS, with its mildly adult language, themes and occasional violence, is definitely PG-rated. Its humor is appreciated more by adults than kids. A BUG'S LIFE, however, is deservedly G-rated. You can let your 4-year-old watch it, and even though they probably won't be able to follow the storyline (as meager as it is), they will certainly be entertained by both the imagery and the funny voices over and over again. There may be a scene or two that may scare them a little; however, it says a lot that the scariest character in the film is a red robin.
The final verdict in my review: A BUG'S LIFE is a very entertaining combination of 3-D animation and excellent voice-over acting by excellent (and very well-cast) actors such as all who were previously named, plus Madeline Kahn, Bonnie Hunt, Michael McShane, John Ratzenberger and Brad Garrett. It is true that ANTZ has a better story; however, A BUG'S LIFE has superior animation. In addition, this was the Disney film that originated the idea of creating fake 'outtakes' to show over the end credits. Originally, I found this practice to be quite odd, but now I kind of like it. This Collector's Edition has even more bonus features than the original DVD. Now a two-DVD set, A BUG'S LIFE is really loaded; besides the behind-the-scenes featurette, there are interactive games that are sure to provide additional entertainment for your little ones, and maybe even for yourself.
HIGHLY RECOMMENDED FOR DISNEY/PIXAR FANS
on March 16, 2004
"Toy Story" will always be considered one of modern cinema's greatest achievements. Unfortunately, movies like "A Bug's Life" and "Monsters, Inc." will always be brushed by the wayside for the fact that they weren't first. That's a shame, because both movies had better plots and performances. "A Bug's Life" is funny. It has a great cast of characters that are more memorable than "Woody" or "Buzz" and the villain, "Hopper," is one of the best villains in Disney history. His fate is also right up there with greats like "Scar" from "Lion King" and "Hades" from "Hercules."
Dave Foley is fun as "Flik." He's kind of a geeky lookin' guy in real life, so that made this character more believable. As state before, "Hopper" is the ultimate bad guy, and Kevin Spacey plays him perfectly. Denis Leary is outstanding as "Francis" the ladybug. Overall, this is an ensemble cast that is rounded out by great support from actors like John Ratzenberger and Phyllis Diller.
The animation is wonderful. It is bright, bold, and downright terrifying when need be(ref. the bird attacking "Hopper.") The music is good, though not as utilized as in "Toy Story." That is beside the point since the story of "Bug's" is so much better than "Toy Story."
Why is it that a Disney flick that is seriously funny always seems to get lost behind dramas such as "Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs?" In Disney's storied history I've always felt that movies like "A Bug's Life" were overlooked because they don't have some great moral story to them. Granted, "Flik" realizing that he must never give up and the rest of the ants learning about strength in numbers is good, but these lessons just don't stick like in other films.
Watch this movie because it is funny. I used to give it a less than stellar rap until I watched it again. It really is funny and deserves to go down as one of Disney/Pixar's best films ever.
The DVD provides some great extras. There is literally something for everyone. For the kiddies there are games, for producer/director wannabes there are documentaries on the creation of the film. The best extras are the entire group of "bloopers" from the film, with personal favorites listed by members of the production team and, of course, "Geri's Game." This made me laugh out loud in the theater and at home.
If you want a funny, memorable movie that doesn't receive the attention it should, buy "A Bug's Life."
on February 12, 2004
Having recently re-seen this movie, i had already forgotten how good it really was. Pointing out that Monsters or Toy Story 2 was better really does not do it justice: All by itself, this movie is probably better than anything but one or two others that came out in the same year, and still pretty much on the top five list of all time great animated films.
The story is good for both kids and adults, though it contains some violent scenes at the end. But the most amazing feature for me is the depth of the story, which really gains as you watch it more often. The simple good/evil plot with gadgetery and a genius inventor / thinker-out-of the box is just a surface layer. Hidden underneath (and missed by literally all critics of the original film) is a story of rebellion of the people against tyranny. A rather more complex topic.
(spoiler ahead - read only if you have seen the film)
As Hopper says to his troops towards the end of the movie: "These Ants outnumber us 100 to 1. What if they ever figure that out?". And, indeed, the happy end does not come the way you would expect your typical hollywood popcorn flick, where a gadget wins freedom and happyness for the ants. Instead, the failed inventor turns rebel-leader and Hopper's worst fear comes true...
A great story.
on November 14, 2003
Go where no bug has gone before! Join Flik, Princess Atta, Princess Dot, Heimlich the caterpillar (the food lover), Slim the
walking-stick, Francis the ladybug and Rosie the spider. (doing
a web of safety in less than 50-- bleh!) Now that "in less than 50--bleh!" is in a outtake starring P.T Flea where he says "Spinning a web of safety in less than 50--bleh!". The other parts of the gang are the "Blueberry" troops, Dr. Flora, Thorny,
Cornelius, Queen, Dim the beetle, Mr. Soil, Tuck & Roll
(the pill bug cannonballs!) and their arch villian Hopper.
Now, in this movie, Flik (Dave Foley) is searching for "oppressed
bugs everywhere" but he can't. So he tries to get help from Princess Dot, P.T Flea's circus lineup ( voiced by Bonnie Hunt,
Brad Garrett, Michael McShane, Madeline Kahn and Denis Leary. ) and the Queen (Phyllis Diller). So that means the sun grows the food, the ants pick the food, the ants keep the food, the ants
eat the food and the people watch the movie.
on September 1, 2003
"A Bug's Life" is actually my least favorite movie from Pixar. However, Pixar's worst is (at least so far) better than the best many other studios can produce, and "Bug's Life" is still a fun movie to watch.
The story of "A Bug's Life" is mainly about an ant named Flik, who is trying to save his ant colony from the bullying rule of a group of grasshoppers. He enlists the aid of a few circus bugs to help the ants fight the grasshoppers, but eventually, it is Flik's ideas which provide the main inspiration for the colony, and the strongest possibility for their liberation.
There's lots of funny jokes and lots of drama in "A Bug's Life." It's a clever film, but in the end, not a very moving one. When I compare it to the "Toy Story" movies or "Finding Nemo" or (especially) "Monsters Inc," I find that all of those films made me laugh and cry, and most importantly, they made me feel for these digital characters they create. The characters in "A Bug's Life" seem not quite so well developed -- they seem clever, but shallow.
Don't get me wrong, I enjoyed this movie. It's a fun film for my kids and I to watch together, and technically, the animation is pretty amazing. For me, it simply lacked some of the emotional depth of the other movies Pixar made, and so is a slight disappointment when compared to those other movies.
Make sure to watch through the end credits... the bloopers are priceless!
on June 11, 2003
The ants on Ant Island are putting the finishing touches on their annual offering to the grasshoppers, a payment for leaving them alone and keeping them safe from other bugs. Princess Atta is extremely nervous as this is her first year in charge. Things don't go as planned when Flik accidentally knocks all the food into the water. As a way to get rid of him while they met the increased demands, the colony sends him off to find warrior bugs to protect them. Through a series of mistakes, he finds a bunch of disgraced circus performers instead. Will they find a way to protect the colony?
This movie already seems to be delegated to the bottom of Pixar's list of movies, which is a real shame. As with all their movies, it's wonderful. The action keeps up at a brisk pace, the characters are likeable, the voice talent is wonderful, and there are plenty of laughs for everyone. This is also the first of their movies to feature outtakes. The animation does date the movie a little. The bugs look a little plasticy. However, some of the effects are wonderful, especially the fog and rain.
This was the first of Pixar's movies to be released on DVD. The picture clarity and sound were news worthy at the time because it was the first movie released directly from the digital source. That clarity still holds up today. They went all out with the extras, featuring an informative audio commentary, and all the behind the scenes info you could want. I especially liked looking at the original story idea and seeing the wide to full screen comparisons.
Don't get so caught up in the hype around their other movies that you over look this one. It's just as great a story for kids of all ages as anything Pixar has put out to date.