Dreamworks Review: Antz

DreamWorks Animation's first feature length film
DreamWorks Animation’s first feature length film

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My Opinion right after watching movie

Right after watching “Antz”, I think that it is one of the more better, less-generic DreamWorks films. It does not have as much modern-day, human references as the typical DreamWorks film, has some witty adult dialogue, and stands out well. It is not one of the best films in the DreamWorks canon, but is more than generic. This is when DreamWorks had some balls and a bit of creativity.

Production

This film has an infamous production. Right before Toy Story was to be released, in October of 1995, John Lasseter and Andrew Stanton paid Katzenberg a visit, and he asked the two a bunch of detailed questions about their upcoming film  A Bug’s Life, like when was it going to be released and such, which the two explained to him in detail. When Pixar found out that DreamWorks are working on an animated film called Antz, they especially Lasseter felt very betrayed. They knew that he stole the idea from them, but that was not Katzenberg’s story; he claimed that it came from a 1991 pitch from Tim Johnson, and was in his possession from 1994.  He wanted Pixar to move A Bug’s Life back, so it would not be competing with then-intented first release The Prince of Egypt, but Pixar refused. So, DreamWorks moved Antz’ release date from March 1999 to October 2nd 1998, almost 2 months before the release of A Bug’s Life. This was all very public at the time and as the premiers for each date quickly approached, both did not express it much in the press. Many see this as revenge to Disney on Katzenberg’s part, and this battle ultimately started the DreamWorks-Pixar feud.

Pixar vs Dreamworks
Pixar vs Dreamworks

Originally, the ants had six limbs, some characters had clothes on, and apparently a lightbulb would appear whenever they had a thought (DreamWorks humor). And General Mandible was supposed to look a lot more sinister in his original draft. Princess Bala was supposed to be a lot meaner and brattier in the earlier draft, but she was apparently toned down (I think she could have been a bit more to be honest). Apparently, Woody Allen (Z in the film) recorded all of his lines in 5 days, but the company kept wanting him to re-record.

Story

The story starts with Z (Woody Allen) bitching and complaining about his life in the colony with a counselor, saying that he is sick of not being able to worry about himself and such, which the counselor says that he is insignificant. He then goes back to his work as a construction worker, and complains to his friend Azteca (Jennifer Lopez), who tells him to be a team player. In the evening, him and his friend Weaver (Sylvester Stallone) goes to a club where he talks about it AGAIN, while his friend tells him to stop thinking like that.

bitching

I get it that he lives in a totalitarian society, but if you really think about it, they are ants; that is how they function. They are about the group, and everyone contributes in their own way. It is just the way he talks about it comes off really annoying and like he is bitching like a girl on her period (no offense). It is really hard to sympathize with him when he is so irritating.

Back to the story, Princess Bala (Sharon Stone) goes to the club so she can escape her stressful life for a bit and to have fun. She asks him to dance with her, which he does because he thinks she is a hottie. They dance weirdly together, but then a guard shows up, causing her and her friends to leave. He asks her when he is going to see her again, and she says never. He is completely love smitten, but is shocked when he finds out she is a princess. Does this seem familiar….

jasmine

Anyways, Z asks Weaver to exchange places with him, because the soldiers are going to march (where she will be) the next day. Weaver agrees because he wants to meet worker babes. Literally When he is marching with the soldiers, he is trying to get her attention; which fails because all of the ants look so similar and she is looking at them from above. A soldier named Barbatus (Danny Glover) tells him that they are going to war, freaking him out. This is a plan that General Mandible (Gene Hackman) who is Bala’s fiance is secretly sending the Queen’s most loyal soldiers to their death. He wants to get rid of the “weak” ants , so he can build an empire with only strong ants. They go into battle, and all except for Z (who hid almost the entire time) are killed by termites. He comes out of hiding, and finds Barbatus’ head, who says that he is a goner and can tell by the look in Z’s eyes. This is a joke that does not really work.

This movie is funny, btu not when they are trying to be funny....... typical DreamWorks
This movie is funny, but not when they are trying to be funny……. typical DreamWorks

Z returns to the colony to the annoyance of General Mandible, and is considered a war hero. When he is shown to the tribe, he gets cheered, and cannot get enough of it……. I try to like him, but it does not work. Anyways, the Queen wants to meet him, who is with Princess Bala, and tries to hit on her by giving her a rawr in front of her mother and fiance (which he does not know about, and she does not know it is the same guy.

Really DreamWorks..... really?
Really DreamWorks….. really?

Bala recognizes him, and accidentally bates him out to her mother and Mandible. They are mad that a worker switched into being a soldier, and got caught in his lie. He drags Bala with him, so they can let him leave instead of being arrested. She tries to fight him off, cussing the both of them to go in the trash chute and ends up extremely far away from the colony. Bala starts becoming extremely selfish, and bitching non-stop about how she is a princess and needs to be saved. So, she wanted to escape her life as a princess and does not like it, but uses it to get what she wants and acts like a spoiled brat. Yeah, she is not that likable either, and the voice acting makes her a bit less interesting and invest able. As you can tell, I do not really like our main characters much. We are supposed to sympathize with them when they are discussing their situation, but it comes off as them complaining negatively, making it hard to sympathize with them.

Too much sass is not a good thing. Princess Atta is better
Too much sass is not a good thing. Princess Atta is better

The word spreads quickly around the colony about Z and his “heroism” of switching careers and doing what he wants and “starting a revolution”, which rubs off on a majority of the ants, to again the dismay of General Mandible. The other ants stop production on their work because they want to make choices for their own self, and cheers on Z. General uses this to an advantage, telling them Z is a criminal and only cares for himself. He tells them that he built a Mega-Tunnel, that will help give them a better life (but they do not know that he is using this to kill them all off). He goes back to his quarters to interrogate Weaver, meaning……

Getting his assed whopped
Getting his assed whopped

He does not initilaly cave in, but does so when the other guards would beat up/rape Azteca, telling Mandible that he went for Insectopia. Knowing what Weaver is talking about, he sends his best man Colonel Cutter (Christopher Walkin) to retrieve the princess and to kill Z.  Cutter is starting to have second thoughts, but that will not go into play until later. The entire afternoon (after finding Insectopia (which is really a pile of garbage), Bala and Z hang out and fall in love during the song “Romance in Insectopia”

I Can See Clearly Now

It is night time, and they are talking about his experience in that war, her life in the palace (the General makes the decisions for them), and the reason she came to the bar that night, which was to cause a bit of trouble. She compliments him. The other stoner-like bugs tell Z to go fetch some wood, and as soon as he leaves, Cutter shows up for Bala. He asks her about Z, and she tells him that he is dead, and does not want to go back. He takes her back to the colony anyways, which Z sees, trying to catch up to them. The now widowed bee showed up to help Z, saying that it is what his wife would have done. I mean this bee named Chip (Dan Aykroyd)

bee

Z soon reaches back to the colony to save Bala, who was trapped in Mandible’s office. She tells him Mandible’s plan (to drown the queen and citizens to create a new, strong colony), and they soon share their first kiss before running to ell the Queen and subjects. As Bala tries to warn the workers and her mother, Z goes to warn the workers that decided to continue to dig, but fails, causing the tunnel to flood the colony. They decide to create an ant ladder where each ant would climb out of for safety. The Queen is the first one that climbs. Up on the surface, General Mandible tells him his plan to the soldiers (I thought all of them died, but plot hole aside), but is interrupted when Zs climb on the surface, who gets pulled up by the sidekick (forgot his mane at the moment), saying that this is for the good of the colony.

Mandible gets extremely upset and yells “I AM THE COLONY”, attempting to tackle the sidekick (still forgot his mane), but Z pushes him out of the way and gets tackled back down into the colony. All of the ants climbed successfully to the surface (with the help of the soldiers), and all are wondering where Z is. Cutter (now I remembered) brings up an unconscious Z, and all are sad because they think he is dead. Bala decides to give him CPR, and after one breath, he is retrieved.

Gee, if CPR was only this simple in real life (rolls eyes). At least he is alive

After being successfully saved, the horny Z kisses Bala, giving Azteca and Weaver the same idea and kiss. They all congratulate each other, and as Z and Bala are being crowd surfed, we are told by Z in narrative that the ant colony was rebuilt, built a swimming pool (always the ones to squeeze in an unnecessary pop-culture reference aren’t we DreamWorks), and they are planning to have a few million kids. He got a new therapist that helps him a lot, and is a lot happier with his life because he chose it.

The story is actually very detailed, insightful, action packed, and a bit dark (like too dark for children). It does get a bit clunky at times when it comes to the flow of the story, but otherwise, there are no issues with it that I could find. It is predictable, but the way they tell it makes you interested and that you have never heard of it before. You could still guess what is going to happen from the first 5 minutes, almost like every animated film.

Characters

The characters in this movie range from one-dimensional and cliche to developed and somewhat interesting. I say that because most (if not all) of the characters are not that developed, and are not very engaging. Some can come off as very irritating. I was not able to get invested in any of them. I’ll start with Z

I know that we are supposed to feel sympathy for him and root for him, but he makes that very hard to do. He is either making a sexual joke, complaining about something, and talking about how he is different from everyone else, but the way that it is written makes him so unrelatable. His voice also is irritating (Sorry Allen). He is just annoying and feels sorry for himself. Protagonist gone wrong.
I know that we are supposed to feel sympathy for him and root for him, but he makes that very hard to do. He is either making a sexual joke, complaining about something, and talking about how he is different from everyone else, but the way that it is written makes him so un-relatable. His voice also is irritating (Sorry Allen). He is just annoying and feels sorry for himself. Protagonist gone wrong.
She is liekable at first, as she is a princess who wants to be rebellious for some fun, and does not really feel sorry for herself and her situation. She is a cool and fun girl, up until her and Z end up in the middle of nowhere. She complains about how she is important and tht she is a princess (which she was getting tired of). Again, I know we are supposed to feel sympathy for her in this scene, but the way that it is written makes you want to put a gag in her mouth and to tell her to shut the fuck up. She is a hypocrite; she wants to be able to make her own decisions and not be typical princess, but she becomestat aftetr she is stranded and becomes the damsel in distress that wants to be saved. Other than that, she is a pretty flat character afterwards. Her shining moments are in the first act, and goes downhill...
She is likable at first, as she is a princess who wants to be rebellious for some fun, and does not really feel sorry for herself and her situation. She is a cool and fun girl, up until her and Z end up in the middle of nowhere. She complains about how she is important and that she is a princess (which she was getting tired of). Again, I know we are supposed to feel sympathy for her in this scene, but the way that it is written makes you want to put a gag in her mouth and to tell her to shut the fuck up. She is a hypocrite; she wants to be able to make her own decisions and not be typical princess, but she becomes that after she is stranded and becomes the damsel in distress that wants to be saved. Other than that, she is a pretty flat character afterwards. Her shining moments are in the first act, and goes downhill…
He gets the job done, but is not really that engaging. You are not really thinking what a badass villain he is. Just your typical villain with nothing special. Not bad, but not really that memorable
He gets the job done, but is not really that engaging. You are not really thinking what a badass villain he is. Just your typical villain with nothing special. Not bad, but not really that memorable
He is my favourite character in the movie. He is enjoyable, fun, dirty, just the type of guy that you want to kick it and have a beer with. He does his job as a friend well, and is the most engaging character in the movie.
He is my favorite character in the movie. He is enjoyable, fun, dirty, just the type of guy that you want to kick it and have a beer with. He does his job as a friend well, and is the most engaging character in the movie.
She does the job of being a friend to Z well. Her and her relationship with Weaver is dirty, and fun to watch. As a character though, she is one-dimensional at best. Still more engaging than the mains
She does the job of being a friend to Z well. Her and her relationship with Weaver is dirty, and fun to watch. As a character though, she is one-dimensional at best. Still more engaging than the mains.
Cutter is the intelligent right-hand man to General Mandible. He takes his job seriously, but you can tell that he is a cool guy. He is kind of eh as a character
Cutter is the intelligent right-hand man to General Mandible. He takes his job seriously, but you can tell that he is a cool guy. He is kind of eh as a character

The others play too much of a minor role and unmemorable to mention.

Animation

I could not find much information about the animation of the film, except for the fact that the movie was in the Guiness World Record for being the first CGI film to animate water.

Impressive
Impressive

The animation is pretty nice, especially with the backgrounds, plants, and special effects like water. Even though it is nice, you could tell that it was made in the 90s and is dated. The character designs are not the best, as it is kind of hard to tell the characters apart as they are all brown. I would say that the animation is almost on par with that of Toy Story.

Music

The music is very good in this movie. The soundtrack being composed by Harry Gregson-Williams and John Powell is very well done. It has a military, totalirian-ish theme (if that makes sense) with a brash naturalistic tone (makes sense because they are ants), and an adult, dirty sound as well. It reminds you of the war, struggle, and battle, which goes very well with the theme of the movie. The soundtrack is mostly score except for “Romance in Insectopia”, which is a decent song. The soundtrack does have some sort of a variety, and you will like some scores on it. Give it a listen.

Reception at Release

Antz was released in October 2nd, 1998, and was a minor success. This film was critically acclaimed when it was released, with people liking it for it’s rather adult tone, comedy, and voice acting. It topped the box office for two weeks, and closed in theaters at February 18th, 1999. It grossed $90,757,863 domestically (so it did alright in Canada and the US), $81 million internationally (not so good), and overall made $171,757,863 worldwide, which was alright for a company’s first release. It got Disney a bit worried that they are getting some competition though. While not being much of  a success, some consider it better than A Bug’s Life. It was nominated for an AFI Top 10 award, 3 Annie award (none being Best Animated Film), a British Academy Film Award, a Golden Reel Award, and a Golden Satellite award (all for sound editing, visual effects, and animation). It won a Golden Reel Award for Best Sound Editing, and an ASCAP Film and Television Music Award for Top Box Office Films.

Reception Today

Unfortunately, the novelty for this film has worn off. The only time people really talk about it is when it is being compared to A Bugs’ Life, and when they are mentioning DreamWork’s earlier animated films. Since it was not a big success, DreamWorks put it in their own little vault that has not been let out since it left theaters. People officially say that the company’s 4th feature Shrek put them on the map. It is not considered a DreamWorks classic or a DreamWorks failure (at least to the general audience); just forgotten about.

Final Score

Story = 8/10

Characters = 4/10

Music = 10/10

Animation =7/10

=30/40= 73%

Next Time……

Review: July 31st, 2013
Review: July 31st, 2013

This is my first review, so your comments about how I did would be really appreciated, so I can improve. Thank you for reading

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9 thoughts on “Dreamworks Review: Antz

  1. Great first attempt 🙂 ! I can see that you have a style growing and am sure you’ll cultivate it with further reviews!

    I am not a fan of this film, I really don’t like this movie! And I quite disagree with you that the animation of this film is on par with “Toy Story”; I just couldn’t get over the character designs and facial expressions.

    1. Thank you so much, and I am trying to build a style (more on the sarcastic, cynical style but informative). I’m not much of a fan of this movie either, but the animation is pretty good in this. I probably said that because the humans look so bad.

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