Welcome to this blog of my film reviews. Some have been drafted carefully on paper, others I have sat and typed. I'm going to make it clear right now that I don't expect you to agree with my (re)views, or to like my style of writing. However, I want my views to be just out there and open, as a person who wishes to express himself from deep within. Feel free to comment and debate with me, but I do ask that you are civil and not harsh, as any comments which are basically swear words and insults will automatically be deleted. Also any text that is in orange (and often bold) is a Hyperlink to either a source, or a previous post for background reference.

Saturday, 11 September 2010

A Bug's Life


A Bug's Life is Pixar's second computer animated feature film after Toy Story (1995), and the third computer animated feature film of all time after Toy Story and Antz (1998).

For years the ant colony of Ant Island have paid grasshopper Hopper (Kevin Spacey) and his cronies for protection with a large offering of hand-picked food. However, foolish inventor Flik (Dave Foley) accidentally causes it all to fall into the stream, and now the ants have "Till the last leaf falls" to prepare double the normal amount. Determined to put things right for his colony, Flik goes to 'The City' (which is actually a load of rubbish/litter under a caravan) to find tough 'Warrior Bugs' to protect the colony. The next day Flik returns with a group of bugs he found fighting flies (all three voiced by Jack Angel) in a 'bar-and-grill' (a tin can), and it comes as a huge nasty blow to Flik when it transpires that the bugs - ladybug Francis (Denis Leary), stick insect Slim (David Hyde Pierce), caterpillar Heimlich (Joe Ranft), black widow Rosie (Bonnie Hunt), praying mantis Manny (Jonathan Harris), moth Gypsy (Madeline Kahn), rhino beetle Dim (Brad Garrett) and pill bug twins Tuck and Roll (both Michael McShane) - are actually an out-of-work Circus Troupe that assumed Flik was a talent scout hiring them for dinner theatre (a hilarious piece of dramatic irony as we the viewers are aware of what they are from the start, and the misunderstandings/double meanings won't fail to make you laugh). However, after they work together with Flik, risking their lives, to save little Princess Dot (Hayden Panettiere) from a hungry bird, the troupe agree to continue the farce, and start devising a plan to stop Hopper and his grasshoppers from ever oppressing the ants again.

Director John Lasseter, Head of Pixar and its founder, says that this film was a huge risk despite the massive success of Toy Story, three years earlier, as it was the studio's second film and if it didn't do well then Pixar would go bust. It is only right that he worried, but at the end of the day everything worked out. The film grossed over $360 million at the worldwide box office, making over a 600% profit, and gaining vast amounts of positive reviews. It isn't hard to see why...

The film features beautiful computer animation, superior to that of Toy Story. Every single frame of the computer animation is beautifully and intricately detailed, showing in glorious, detailed, colourful animation just how big things like blades of grass and pebbles are from the perspective of insects - blades of grass being several times taller than them, the tiniest of pebbles being like boulders are to us. Pixar created this as successfully as they did by studying the intricate details of grass and plants by raising a tiny camera a half-inch off the ground on four wheels and pushing it through a patch of grass outside their headquarters. So, in short, the animation really makes you appreciate just how gigantic everything appears to be for insects, which is something we truly take for granted.

The characters are equally as beautifully and well created. All of the characters have excellent gags, especially Heimlich, Slim and Hopper's younger loud-mouthed brother Molt (Richard Kind). The voice cast are of an outstanding quality, truly breathing life into their characters and making you really fall in love with them. Arguably, the most memorable character is Heimlich, who never stops eating, and dreams of being a beautiful butterfly, and if you read Eric Carle's The Very Hungry Caterpillar then you won't be able to stop laughing, especially when Heimlich breaks out his cocoon in the epilogue/closing scene and you see his supposed 'transformation'. Heimlich also gets more gags and comic moments than any other character in the film.

The film also has outstanding editing, which works really well when it is combined with its fast-paced action and soundtrack. The best example of a wonderful, fast-paced editing-action-soundtrack combination is towards the end of the film's main climax when Hopper flies off with Flik during a storm, the Circus Bugs in hot pursuit. This scene, like so many others, will really grip your attention and have you on the edge of your seat, not wanting to miss a second of the action.

With all of these elements and many more combined A Bug's Life - which some people look at as a modern animated spin-off of Seven Samurai (1954) and The Magnificent Seven (1960) - is a wonderful, engaging, and beautifully animated film that will entertain adults and children alike.

Dave Foley, Julia Louis-Dreyfus, Hayden Panettiere, Kevin Spacey, Denis Leary, David Hyde Pierce, Joe Ranft, Bonnie Hunt, Phyllis Diller, Richard Kind, Jonathan Harris, Madeline Kahn, Brad Garrett, Michael McShane, John Ratzenberger, Roddy McDowall, Alex Rocco, Edie McClurg, David Ossman.

Oscar nomination: Best Original Score (Randy Newman).

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