A great step for animated movies

 

Antz (1998) Review 5
Director:Eric Darnell,
Starring:Woody Allen, Dan Aykroyd, Anne Bancroft, Jane Curtain
Length:87 minutes
Rated:PG

 

Finally, a beautifully animated movie for all of us long suffering adults. DreamWorks and Pacific Data Images have succeeded where so many other studios have failed in the past. And they did it the right way, with a solid, simple storyline and an amazing all-star line up of great actors, including Woody Allen, Sharon Stone, Sylvester Stallone, Gene Hackman and Christopher Walken! If the rumors are true, and Katzenberg and the DreamWorks crew are serious about changing the state of animated movies, then Antz is a great first step. We’ll have to see if they can succeed later this year with Prince of Eygpt.

Antz is absolutely gorgeous! It is eye candy of the highest degree. Certainly, the ability of artists and the technology available has improved since the release of Pixars’ Toy Story. And it is certainly evident in Antz. It doesn’t take long to be immersed into the story and (almost) forget you’re watching an animated movie. Just try and remember the last time that happened. The key to the entire success of Antz however, is not in it’s computer generated effects, but in it’s characters! Doesn’t that sound familiar?

Woody Allen plays ‘Z’, just your average run of the mill ant, the middle child in a family of 5 million! But with a difference. It seems Z just doesn’t fit in. The whole group organism thing just doesn’t sit right with Z. And like any good revolutionary, he mostly moops and drinks heavily. It isn’t until the Princess (looking forward to a future filled with having a baby every 15 seconds.) slums into the bar, that everything changes for Z. Suddenly his desire to see her again starts a chain of events that will forever alter the history of the Colony.

Enough cannot be said for the casting choice of Woody Allen in the role of Z. Whatever you think of his movies, or of his personal choices in life, no one else could have done a better job of bringing Z to life. In my humble opinion I think it’s Woody’s best role in a long, long time. This movie is perfect for Woody, and something that he would never have made on his own. Sharon Stone’s Princess is solid, but the role could’ve been done by many talented actresses just as well. The standout’s are the supporting cast, headed up by Sylvester Stallone. I thought Sly’s portrayal was the most emotional, and best delivered since Rocky. I know that’s not saying alot, but Sly was perfect as the big, but lovable soldier. Gene Hackman plays the twisted and power mad general Mandable to perfection. And Christopher Walken (why hasn’t this man voiced an animated character before?) is absolutley brilliant as the general’s Major Domo.

Antz is a fun filled, romantic comedy with enough action to keep everyone happy. The in-jokes about insect life help to provide the color and background that fills the story to the brim. Is Antz perfect? No. It’s quick at just under an hour and a half, but it’s full. Does it’s adult slant mean it’s not appropriate for children? No. My five year old loved it. The PG generating jokes are really mild and harmless, heck, you hear worse things on primetime television.

Antz is an important step in the history of the animated film. But it’s lessons should not be ignored in the future. Story, characters and then effects. It’s an old lesson, but one that is too easily ignored. We’ll have to wait and see if ‘A Bug’s Life’ can follow up Antz succesfully. I know they are completely different movies, but so were ‘Deep Impact‘ and ‘Armagedon‘.