There was a time when Disney was completely out of reach. It was insane to
even think about competing with this colossal giant of entertainment. That
time has passed. Disney is now struggling to keep up with the new talents,
that are frequently emerging.
Dream Works SKG moved away from the traditional and familiar, and created
they recent feature: "Antz" . The result is beyond every expectation. "Antz"
is not only visually stimulating, but plays at a higher intellectual level
and has some spectacular vocal performances, that when combined create a
vision that is greater than Disney in every aspect.
"Antz" is not the kind of film that you would expect from Disney and other
companies that try to copy their way of work. It is an animated satire for
grown-ups. While children will only see the obvious aspects: love,
adventure, courage, loneliness, betrayal; a more mature audience will enjoy
how it plays with totalitarism, hippies and the social classes (the ant
society is divided in three classes, reminding about the Indian casts:
workers, soldiers and the royal family; it's interesting to see how all
classes envy eachother's way of life).
In an anthill with millions of inhabitants, Z 4195 (Woody Allen) is a worker
ant. As the film opens he is lying on a therepist's leaf complaining about
the social order and his difficult childhood. Feeling insignificant in a
conformity system, he accidentally meets beautiful Princess Bala (Sharon
Stone), who has a similar problem on the other end of the social scale.
Engaged with her mother's "loyal subject" General Mandible, whom she doesn't
love, and with a dull life awaiting her in the future. In order to meet Bala
again, Z switches sides with his soldier friend Weaver (Sylvester Stalone).
By this he proves that it is possible to confront the system. That it builds
on fear, but beyond that - nothing more. That the ants do have a choice to
live their own life how they want and that it is possible to not follow
orders all the time. And when Z returns home as a war hero, he becomes a
living legend to the "whole insect race". By this he unwillingly crosses the
sinister plans of ambitious General Mandible , who wants to divide the ant
society into a superior, strong race (soldiers) and "the week elements" (the
workers, that ironically are the strength of the ant colony). But Z and
Bala, both unaware of the dangerous situation, try to leave the oppressive
system by heading for Insectopia, a place where you can be your own ant and
where food paves the streets.
Most of all, it's a story about individualism and the courage to be
different. It's a search for a better world, where the most important part
is freedom. But it has also several dark themes, such as racism and
communism. The totalitarian society displayed in "Antz" is cold and
unfriendly. Here individualism is a sin and a step away from this ideology
leads to punishment.
It is important to realize that "Antz" is not just a cartoon about a
neurotic ant, but also a hint on our way of life.The first thing you see is
skyscrapers and then by glare of the sunlight they are suddenly transformed
into high grass. It's a brilliant satire, that is about ourselves - our
believes and thoughts about our way of life and the surrounding environment.
Two fly-hippies sit around an open fire in the woods, discussing the meaning
of life:- "..Have you ever thought about this huge universe, that is so big,
we don't even know it excists.." - "..Wow..man..that is so deep!" This
brilliantly directed scene questions our own place in this "huge universe".
Maybewe are crawling under someone's shoe, and we don't even know it.
Both visually and intellectually "Antz" is a feast. PGI's beautiful computer
generated animation and Harry Gregson-Williams's energetic musical score
create a spectacular atmosphere. And some of Hollywood's greatest actors are
responsible for incredible vocal preformances: Woody Allen, Sharon Stone,
Sylvester Stalone, Danny Glover, Jennifer Lopez, Gene Hackman, Christopher
Walken and Dan Aykroyd.
"Antz" is a beautiful "Titanic"-kind of story, about the impossible love
between a simple worker and a princess. However because of its serious plot
and paralells, "Antz" may seem more appealing to adults than children. When
you watch Disney-films, everything is black and white - he is bad and he is
good. Here, the story is much deeper and sophisticated, where you have to
draw some difficult parallels to get the essence. The language is also
ruffer, than in most kiddy cartoons.
Dream Works has created a milestone in animation.