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Eric Darnell, Tim Johnson
Woody Allen, Sharon Stone, Gene Hackman
Writing Credits:
Todd Alcott, Chris Weitz, Paul Weitz

A neurotic ant tries to break from his totalitarian society while trying to win the affection of the princess he loves.

Box Office:
Budget $105 million.
Opening Weekend
$17,195,160 on 2449 screens.
Domestic Gross

Rated PG

Aspect Ratio: 1.85:1
English DTS-HD MA 5.1
French DTS 5.1
French Canadian DTS 5.1
Castillian DTS 5.1
Spanish DTS 5.1
Japanese DTS 5.1
Dutch DTS 5.1
Portuguese DTS 5.1
Supplements Subtitles:

Runtime: 83 min.
Price: $19.98
Release Date: 10/16/2018

• Audio Commentary with Directors Tim Johnson and Eric Darnell
• Production Featurette
• “Basics of Computer Animation” Featurette
• “Facial System” Featurette
• “Character Design” Featurette


-LG OLED65C6P 65-Inch 4K Ultra HD Smart OLED TV
-Marantz SR7010 9.2 Channel Full 4K Ultra HD AV Surround Receiver
-Panasonic DMP-BD60K Blu-Ray Player
-Chane A2.4 Speakers
-SVS SB12-NSD 12" 400-watt Sealed Box Subwoofer


Antz [Blu-Ray] (1998)

Reviewed by Colin Jacobson (September 30, 2019)

After years of being the only animated game in town, Disney finally dealt with stiff competition from other studios in 1998. In particular, DreamWorks established themselves as heavy players in the cartoon world, and they did pretty well right off the bat with Antz and The Prince of Egypt.

Both movies pulled in grosses that approached $100 million, although neither had any sort of ready-made audience ala Rugrats or Pokemon. While the money made by the two DreamWorks efforts wouldn't merit much attention if they had come from Disney, their success clearly demonstrated at long last that non-Disney studios could sell their animated product as well.

Antz in particular represented a serious challenge from DreamWorks to Disney. That film, about an ant who tries to maintain his individuality within the conformist constraints of his colony, boasted almost exactly the same plot as Disney's A Bug’s Life. Both films also featured computer animation.

The kicker? DreamWorks made sure that Antz hit the screens nearly two months prior to the Thanksgiving 1998 release of A Bug's Life.

Coincidence? Methinks not! The message sent from DreamWorks seemed patently clear.

A worker ant named Z (voiced by Woody Allen) finds it hard to accept his life as just one cog in an enormous insect machine. He struggles against the colony’s mindless conformity, and he eventually happens to meet Princess Bala (Sharon Stone).

They share a connection but their differing social spheres makes it impossible for them to be together. To change this, Z switches places with soldier ant pal Weaver (Sylvester Stallone), a choice that leads him on a wild journey.

Much debate arose over the inevitable question in regard to the origins of Antz and Bug’s Life. Was it some coincidence that two different studios produced two computer-animated films that starred ants and featured rather similar plots, or did one company rip off the other?

Appearances make it seem that Disney stole from DreamWorks simply because Antz came out first, but that means little. Animated films require such extended production times that a few weeks difference in release dates becomes virtually insignificant.

Scuttlebutt says that DreamWorks took from Disney, but that's just conjecture. The full truth may never be known, as it's not like one studio's going to admit that they ripped off the other one.

Anyway, that subject seems to be a happily moot point because of the financial and artistic success of both films. A Bug's Life pulled in bigger bucks, but the decent gross of Antz certainly has to be considered a moral victory. Better yet remains the fact that both of them are very good films.

I'll make no bones about it: I decidedly prefer A Bug's Life, as I think it possesses a personality and a flair that Antz largely lacks. Put simply, I had much more fun watching A Bug's Life.

Not that Antz fails in any significant way, as it's a very enjoyable little film. I found it fairly disappointing when I saw it during its theatrical run, but I've watched the film a few times since then and I now think it works pretty nicely. It's still not as interesting as A Bug's Life, but it certainly delivers some strong entertainment.

Critics decided that Antz was the more "adult" of the two insect movies, and I suppose that's overtly true. I believe that designation largely came about simply because Antz is “PG” and A Bug's Life is “G”.

To earn that more restrictive rating, Antz supplies a smattering of mild profanity, an occasional adult theme, and a battle scene that depicts some disembodied insect body parts. Since the "adult" label slapped on this movie connotes added sophistication, I don't think any of these aspects of the production merit that.

Antz additionally seems more advanced to many because of the presence of Woody Allen as Z. He may not have written his material, but Woody essentially does Woody here, which is fine, as he helps make Z an interesting character.

Again, I really don't see anything that seems particularly sophisticated in his performance or any of the others. Little here stands out as more adult-oriented than you'd find in any Disney film.

Most of the voice acting seems very good, though only Christopher Walken and his odd cadences really stand out to me. Stallone does a nice turn in a wee bit of self-parody, and Gene Hackman adds force to his role as the evil General Mandible.

Stone's performance as Princess Bala seems fairly uncompelling, though. She does nothing overtly wrong, but I just don't find her work to be particularly interesting.

One problem that the voice acting can't completely overcome stems from the monotony of the visual appearance of the characters. Although we occasionally get insects of others species - primarily Jane Curtin and Dan Aykroyd as some very WASPy wasps - the vast majority of the screen time becomes occupied by ants, and they all look an awful lot alike.

That makes sense, of course, since if the ants all looked different, we would not accept that. But the lack of variety of "supporting bugs" we find in A Bug's Life contributes to the fairly static appearance of the film. All the ants look so much alike that the movie is strongly dominated by their reddish-brown hue and it fails to match the visual excitement of its competitor.

Back when Antz was fresh, the animation looked pretty solid to me. However, 21 years after its release, the work shows its age. The animation doesn’t seem bad, but it looks primitive compared to newer CG animated films.

Still, Antz remains a fairly lively and enjoyable movie. It started DreamWorks down the road to becoming an animation powerhouse and it stands as a fun though unspectacular piece of work.

The Disc Grades: Picture C-/ Audio B+/ Bonus B

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

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