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movie reviewmovie reviewmovie reviewvideo review out of 4 Movie Review: Antz

Starring: Woody Allen, Sharon Stone
Director: Eric Farnell
Rated: PG
RunTime: 83 Minutes
Release Date: October 1998
Genres: Animation, Kids, Comedy, Sci-Fi/Fantasy

Review by Walter Frith
3 stars out of 4

Characteristic of 1995's 'Toy Story', 'Antz', in my opinion is just as good if not better. It has all the classic makings of an animated formula film which is ideal for somewhat older children, say those above the age of 8 and isn't really suitable for very young children. What I enjoyed so much about the film was the abundance of rich detail brought to every frame of this film which captures the everyday life in an ant colony with humour, intrigue and an innocuous style of story telling.

Woody Allen is Z, the film's nerdy little protagonist, and the first time we see Z, he's on a therapist's couch. How appropriate. Especially when we see Woody in his other films, sometimes playing a neurotic in therapy as the character he voices here is. Z is a "worker". At birth, an ant is judged by the colony as either a "worker" or a "soldier". The queen of the colony, voiced by Anne Bancroft, has a beautiful (to an ant) daughter, the Princess Bala, voiced by Sharon Stone. The princess is engaged to the leader of the soldier's colony, echoed by Gene Hackman as a cleverly created villain, giving 'Antz' the strength it needs whereas 'Toy Story' lacked a villain you could really latch onto for exciting leverage.

After finding out that the only way he can score with the Princess, whom he is very fond of and whom he met one night at the ant nightclub of sorts, Z changes places with his best friend, yo'ed!!! by Sylvester Stallone, who is a soldier. The adventure of being a soldier leads Z into battle where the ants will battle the dreaded termites, a species much larger and superior in weaponry, both natural and otherwise. This is the most impressive aspect of the film's entertainment value, comparable in animated detail to the ballroom dance between Belle and the beast in 1991's 'Beauty and the Beast' and the famous stampede scene in 1994's 'The Lion King'. As the lone survivor of the battle, Z and the Princess leave together and the two of them are pursued by the entire military branch of the ant colony. Their adventure takes them outside the colony into the human world where they come across the most natural place you would expect to find an ant, a picnic location!

'Antz' is from the DreamWorks studio, the company started by Steven Spielberg, Jeffrey Katzenberg and David Geffen. The company has done a good job diversifying its subject matter since its inception last year with 'The Peacemaker'. The studio's apparent attempt at both adult and family entertainment is quickly being met with praise by critics in and out of the Hollywood circle.

'Antz' is directed by Eric Darnell and Tim Johnson and is written by Todd Alcot, Chris Weitz and Paul Weitz and while this collaboration seems like a few too many cooks spoiling the brew, the film has a cohesive structure and at a running time of just 83 minutes, it's ending is clever, fitting in perfectly with the vision Woody Allen has in a constant theme that usually runs within his film.

Other celebrity voices in this ingenious mixture of technology include Christopher Walken, Danny Glover, Jennifer Lopez, Dan Aykroyd and Jane Curtin and Aykroyd's voice is the one hardest to nail down for recognition. See if you can catch it.

Copyright 2000 Walter Frith

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