Antz appears in an aspect ratio of approximately 1.85:1 on this Blu-ray Disc. Dated and dull, the transfer disappointed.
Sharpness became an issue. Within fairly close shots, the image felt reasonably well-defined, but anything wider tended to feel mushy and ill-defined. Though these issues didn’t seem extreme, the movie offered decidedly lackluster delineation.
No issues with jagged edges or shimmering occurred, and I noticed only minor edge haloes. While Pixar’s transfers came straight from the computer files, Antz used a print, and they led to more grain than expected as well as a few small specks.
Earthy reds and browns dominated the palette. Once Z and Bala get near Insectopia, the spectrum opened up to a degree, but this largely remained a fairly monotonous affair in that regard. The tones tended to feel flat and without the vivacity they needed.
Blacks were somewhat inky, whereas shadows tended to feel a bit murky. This was a DVD image in a Blu-ray world.
I felt more pleased with the DTS-HD MA 5.1 soundtrack of Antz. Since the film’s essentially a comedy at heart, I wasn’t surprised to discover a soundfield that stayed largely confined to the forward spectrum.
In that domain, the music showed fine stereo imaging, while effects blended together neatly and smoothly. Those elements moved from speaker to speaker cleanly as the track created a solid sense of atmosphere. It even included a fair amount of audio from the side speakers, which offered a pleasant impression.
Surround usage generally favored reinforcement of music and effects, but the rears came to life nicely during a number of scenes. The big battle showed effective use of the surrounds, as did the other action scenes.
When the water roared into the anthill, for instance, it provided an engulfing setting. The mix really helped bring the material to life.
Audio quality consistently seemed positive. Dialogue was natural and distinct, and I heard no problems related to intelligibility or edginess.
Music was rich and warm throughout the movie. Bass stomped to life nicely during the louder scenes such the portion when Z and Bala got stuck to the bottom of a kid’s shoe.
Effects always seemed clear and accurate, with no signs of distortion or other concerns. Ultimately, the soundtrack lacked “A”-level ambition, but it still offered a solid piece of work.
How did the Blu-ray compare to the original 1999 DVD? Audio felt a bit warmer and more engaging, while visuals tended to seem somewhat better defined and fuller.
Any improvements came from two factors: better authoring techniques and the basic superiority of Blu-ray over DVD. The latter predated the former by nearly 20 years, so even if Antz had solely gotten a new DVD, it would’ve benefited from technological growth over that span.
Given that Blu-ray obviously offers stronger capabilities, it doesn’t surprise that this disc looked better than its ancient predecessor. However, the Blu-ray should’ve blown away the DVD, and it didn’t, mainly because it almost certainly used the same transfer from 1999.
That turned into the biggest drawback. This transfer worked fine in 1999 on relatively-small TVs, but on modern displays, the many problems became obvious. DreamWorks cheaped out and simply brought the primitive 1990s transfer to Blu-ray with the expected bland results.
Most of the DVD’s extras repeat, and we find an audio commentary from directors Tim Johnson and Eric Darnell. Both sit together for this running, screen-specific look at story/characters, cast and performances, character and visual design, music, editing, and technical elements/animation.
Expect a pretty solid chat from Johnson and Darnell. They cover a nice array of subjects and do so with humor and energy. All this adds up to a likable, informative discussion.
The remainder of the supplements seem nice but not nearly as compelling. The production featurette lasts four minutes, 28 seconds and presents notes from directors Darnell and Johnson, producers Aron Warner and Brad Lewis, writers Chris and Paul Weitz, supervising animators Rex Grignon and Raman Hui, character TD supervisor Beth Hofer, and actors Sharon Stone, Gene Hackman, Sylvester Stallone, and Anne Bancroft.
Overall, the piece offers only a little information, as it generally presents a fluffy promotional program. Don’t expect much from it.
A fair amount of technical information shows up in three featurettes, and Basics of Computer Animation lasts 11 minutes, 13 seconds. Narrated by directors Darnell and Johnson, they lead us through the various stages of animation and get a nice discussion of the evolution of the material.
Character Design and Facial System use the same format. The latter briefly looks at the ways they animated faces. It’s awfully short at one minute, 14 seconds, but it’s informative nonetheless.
“Character” runs 10 minutes, 35 seconds and covers the development of Z, Bala, Mandible and the wasps. It’s similar to the other two, and it provides a fun and useful chat.
Though I don’t like it as much as A Bug’s Life, Antz gives us a moderately enjoyable and witty piece of work. The film offers some good performances and seems reasonably clever and likable. The Blu-ray features very good sound as well as a decent roster of supplements, but the dated visuals disappoint. I like the movie but this bland transfer becomes a problem.
To rate this film, visit the DVD review of ANTZ