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Festivale online magazine
A Reel Life film section
Antz movie review


In a country of millions, it's easy to feel insignificant. In a colony of billions, it's even easier.

The animation gurus from Dreamworks, including Tim Johnson - who transformed Homer Simpson into 3D - have taken the standards of computer generation up a few notches with Antz. They zoom in and out, and up and around the huge world of these tiny creatures, giving amazing detail to items as ordinary as a soft drink can.

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Z (voice of Woody Allen) feels that he has had a less than satisfying childhood - receiving minimal attention from his mother, since he is the middle child in a family of five million. Living and working in a colony which follows strict routine, Z struggles to find his own self amongst a society that discourages individualism. Quite a complex theme to explore in a family film, really, but that just makes it all the better.

Antz never fails to keep a consistently high level of entertainment, with the obvious visuals but, less obviously, some fabulous dialogue that both adults and children can get a lot out of. Woody Allen was an absolutely perfect choice for his role, giving Z a lovable and quirky tone, sounding exactly right on every occasion. Sharon Stone plays Princess Bala, Z's love interest who is predictably disgusted by him at first. Meanwhile, Sylvester Stallone also sounds perfect as Z's macho buddy, with a good heart.

As we all know, there has to be a bad guy; this time it's General Mandible (Gene Hackman), a power crazed evil ant who hatches a plot to kill all the workers and start a new colony. I would have liked to see Custer developed a little more since he's so fun to watch, but then again, so is everyone.

The three screenwriters and two directors have made the tale a heroic one, but not before examining Z's nervous mind. Once we have a good idea of what makes him tick, Z's adventures begin and the film starts to unwind its carefully executed climax. Which, in every sense of the word, is terrifically exciting and certainly a benchmark in atmospheric animated sequences.

The quality of viewing in Antz is rich and illustrious, bringing to life a whole new world of huge proportions. Not so much a storm in a tea cup, but perhaps an epic from an ant. And if it does become that - an epic - it would be one of the more justified successes of recent years, with strong human values and an inspirational story line. In short, Antz contains everything that makes an excellent film excellent and, whilst it doesn't completely blow you away, it's probably the best family movie so far this year (it's only contender being Mouse Hunt).

I at least speak for myself when I say that I definitely wouldn't mind a break from Sliding Paltrows, rampaging lizards and frowning Bruce Willis'. Z can beat the pants off all of 'em.

Click here to buy films from one of the online stores in Festivale's on-line shopping mall Review © copyright Luke Buckmaster
From 0 stars (bomb), to 5 stars (a masterpiece): 4 stars

See also: Ali's review, with photographs of actors appearing in the film
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Just the facts:

Title: Antz (199)
Written by: Todd Alcott, Chris Weitz and Paul Weitz
Directed by: Eric Darnell and Tim Johnson
Produced by: Brad Lewis, Aron Warner, Patty Wooton, Penney Finkleman Cox
Edited by: Stan Webb
running time:

The Players: Woody Allen, Sharon Stone, Sylvester Stallone, Jennifer Lopez, Gene Hackman
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For session times of current films, use the cinema listings on the Movie links page. For scheduled release dates, see the coming attractions section.

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