After the huge success of Toy Story (1995), animation studio Pixar could
probably get away with an animated bouncing cupboard for 96 minutes and
still make a fortune. Fortunately, they've produced a film that almost meets
the quality of the aforementioned toy caper. Dave Foley voices Flik, an
everyday ant who happens to lose all the food picked for the grasshoppers,
led by Hopper (Spacey.) When Hopper demands that the ants pick double the
amount of food for them before the rainy season starts, Flik concocts a plan
to bring back bigger warrior bugs to help defeat the grasshoppers when they
return. However, Flik brings back circus bugs instead of warriors, and the
colony have to think quickly before the grasshoppers return.
Obvious comparisons can be made to Dreamworks Antz here: computer graphics,
insects, the small ant trying to defeat a much bigger enemy, dealing with
being the 'little guy' etc, although to be fair, A Bugs Life was developed
first. However, this being a Disney film, Flik is not a neurotic New Yorker
who's best friend happens to be Rambo. But still, comparisons will be made.
And in all fairness, A Bugs Life is the better movie, offering more fast
paced action, and a story and characters appealing to both children and
adults, unlike Antz, which wasn't sure where it was going. The easiest way
to watch this movie if you've seen Antz, then, is to remember this a
completely different type of movie.
A Bugs Life is funny, vibrant looking and appealing to all ages. While the
story is slim, and serves as nothing but a thin wire to string together a
series of impressive set pieces, their is plenty of entertainment offered
here. The computer graphics are fantastically realised, and look light years
beyond Toy Story, thanks to the three years advancement in computer
technology. All the characters are well realised and look great, the
backgrounds are nicely detailed, and some of the special effects are very
good. The best thing, however, is that after 10 minutes of being wowed, you
soon forget about the great graphics, and just get on with enjoying the
movie, unlike Antz, that always seemed to remind you were watching an
computer graphic instead of really enjoying the characters and story.
Talking of characters, the ones featured in A Bugs Life are great and very
likeable. Flik is a good hero with a heart of gold, Julia Louis-Dreyfuss is
fine as Princess Atta, and the circus troupe are bubbling with personality,
featuring voices from David Hyde Pierce and Madeline Khan amongst others.
But Kevin Spacey has the most fun as the evil Hopper, although at some
points I thought he might start babbling about Keyser Soze or produce Fliks
girlfriends head in a box. But that's the effect Spacey has on me. And
thankfully, unlike Antz, A Bugs Life is not hampered by one poor performance
(unlike Sharon Stones 'effort' in Antz.)
The set pieces are exciting and inventive: theirs an exciting chase from a
bird and the 'Flaming Death' sequence in the circus has to be seen to be
believed. Some scenes could be too intense for the very young: a few
children starting bursting into tears every time Hopper came onto the
screen. Perhaps Spacey is a little too intense for the young ones.
There are some faults with the film, however. The script and story is weak,
and never reaches the standard set by the delightful Toy Story. The moral of
the story is drummed in shamelessly on the audience. The cast is also
missing a truly strong leading man: while Dave Foley is fine, he hasn't got
the same presence as Tom Hanks or Tim Allen. And just as things were going
great, the film chucks in a Randy Newman song at the end. Dang. But other
than that, A Bugs Life is truly great, if not ground breaking, entertainment
that can be enjoyed by everyone.
And don't even think about leaving the cinema until you've seen the
'outtakes' from the movie during the credits. Pure Pixar genius.
Copyright © 1998 David Wilcock