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.
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.
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.
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 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.
on October 24, 2002
For the past few years it seems that the Disney company has produced animated films that have been made for one purpose only: money. I think that Walt Disney would roll over in his grave if he saw the likes of "Tarzan" or "Atlantis". However, as I watch "A Bug's Life" I think of Walt Disney smiling and being proud of the movie, because this movie continues in his tradition of good quality, fun, and imaginative Disney films. This is certainly the best animated (albeit computer-generated) film since Disney's own "Beauty and the Beast". As weird as this sounds, I think the characters of Flick, Atta, and Dot are some of the most "human" characters I've seen in movies. They all have good qualities and bad qualities, which makes you love them even more. The movie is hilarious and doesn't take itself too seriously, and is not afraid to laugh at itself. The script has a good message about standing up for what is right, even when that makes you unpopular, but you're never hit over the head with it. I'm a teenager, and I just rented "A Bug's Life" and I've already watched it three times. Kids, teens, and adults can all find something to love about this great movie. The cast is amazing and perfect for each character, and even though they're computer-generated, the characters and scenery never look fake. Also, if you have the chance to go to Disney's California Adventure or Disney's Animal Kingdom make sure to see the adorable show based on "A Bug's Life", "It's Tough to Be a Bug". "A Bug's Life" is one of the best movie's I've seen in a long time!
on March 26, 2002
This was one of the two ant-themed films out in theatres this year, 'Antz' being the other. Being a pretty loyal Disney guy, I never saw the other. Knowing that Jeffery Katzenberg left Disney while this film and 'Armageddon' were both in production tells me a lot, since after he helped form Dreamworks, 'Antz' and 'Deep Impact' each came out from that studio. HMMMM...
Anyway, this a very likable film, with broad bits of humour that cover the entire spectrum, so that the entire family will be entertained.
Covering the exploits of Flik, a likable ant who just wants to make things better but only screws things up, the film hops along at a wonderful pace, with great dialogue and even better charactors. The voice talent is top-notch, and perfectly cast.
Really, I'm kinda tired of two-three editions of films, what with 'Gold Collection', 'Special Edition', and such, and wonder why they can't just put out one package and leave it at that.
Oh well. This film is remarkable for many things, not the least which was the inclusion of 'outtakes', specially-made 'screw-ups' by the charactors, which are every bit as funny as the actual film, itself. they alone are worth buying this film for. And, the short cartoon 'Geri's Game', which won an academy award for the studio, and is brilliant.
All in all, this film is very nearly on a level with the Toy Story films, and is positively worth the time!
on March 23, 2002
1998 was a banner year for animated insects on screen. Both Disney and Pixar's A Bug's Life and Dreamworks' Antz were smash hits. The fact that two movies with the same subject came out so close together may be no coincidence. After being fired from Disney, Jeffery Katzenberg, who had rebuilt that studio's animated division, co-founded Dreamworks. The competition between the two companies is now legendary, and the real beneficiary is the public.
A Bug's Life is a delightfully entertaining work. Produced with the latest digital technology, it is a visual feast. The characters and scenery are beautifully rendered. The color is exquisite. And the story? Anyone over twelve years old might enjoy it, and everyone younger should be mesmerized.
Basically, this is a twist on the old children's story about the Grasshopper and the Ants. In a reflection of the changing times, these grasshoppers don't beg for food. They forcefully demand it. In fact, they can get pretty scary. Every year, at the end of summer, they fly in. The ants are expected to have harvested plenty of food for them - or else.
Our minuscule hero is Flik, an intelligent young ant who is forever inventing things to try to make life less routine, much to the amusement of the rest of the colony. When the grasshoppers' share of the food is accidentally destroyed, it's up to Flik to figure out a way to save the colony. He leaves home to seek help, and in a comedy of errors, returns with a band of unemployed bugs from a flea circus. There are butterflies, spiders, lightening bugs, lady bugs, walking sticks and even a rhinoceros beetle. All are good-natured, but none have an ounce of heroism in them. Flik must come up with a game plan before the grasshoppers return.
There is a love interest, and, of course, she is a princess. Women's Lib may have laid Prince Charming to rest, but a Princess remains a mandatory element of childhood fantasies, at least as written by adults. Another ingredient is a multitude of cute precocious kids, and this movie is full of them, tiny though they may be.
While it has a G rating, you will have to gauge your children's emotional levels. When I was a kid, I was terrified by the wicked Queen in Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs. I was afraid to look in a mirror, in case I found her looking back at me. There are parts of A Bug's Life which have that same typical Disney scariness. In particular, Hopper, the head grasshopper, is quite menacing. We grownups laugh at these characters, because we know that a happy ending is a prerequisite, but all small children may not be yet aware of this fact.
The music by Randy Newman is excellent. The end credits are clever. While all those names scroll up the screen, we are shown "out takes" from the movie which are quite amusing.
on December 26, 2001
"A Bug's Life" is a simple plotted movie about the ant who always seems to invent a "better way to do things," but for some reason the inventions go wrong. The anthill where he lives, must collect food for grasshoppers annually for "protection" from other bugs. One of his inventions eliminates the annual "gift" to the grasshoppers, and the story is off and running. Our hero, Flik, as "punishment," it sent to the "Big City" to find some bigger bugs to fight and hopefully chase away the grasshoppers. Like Flik, the "bigger bugs" he finds are a misfit (flea) circus troupe that are trying to fit it. However, Flik mistakes them for warrior bugs, and they mistake him as a talent scout.
A sub-plot focuses on Dot, a young little queen ant who's wings are too small for her to fly. Dot, being cute and adorable, will steal a scene or two from the main story.
One lesson taught in this movie is that "the gift you treasure is within you." You just have to look deep enough to find and cultivate it. Within every tiny seed (or rock--you have to see the film), a mighty oak is inside. I have mentioned this lesson taught in the film several times when doing motivational presentations or team-building exercises.
Although the pre-teen group might not understand all the jokes in the movie, they should enjoy it nonetheless. Teens and adults should be able to catch the pokes at Disney and few other well-known companies in the jokes. And who knows, maybe learn a thing or two about themselves in the process.
If watching the movie for the first time, watch the "outtakes" at the end of the movie. When "A Bug's Life" was in movie theaters, there were two versions of the outtakes. On the DVD, you can view the both versions of the "outtakes"--both have very funny spoofs of various scenes throughout the movie.