DVD Review
A Bug's Life
A Bug's Life poster
By Lee Tistaert     Published June 5, 2003
US Release: November 25, 1998

Directed by: Andrew Stanton John Lasseter
Starring: Brad Garrett , Dave Foley , Kevin Spacey , Denis Leary

G
Running Time: 96 minutes
Domestic Box Office: $162,793,000
B
18 of 66
An entertaining family diversion that?ll likely please those outside that demographic region as well
I found myself chuckling multiple times throughout A Bug?s Life, but was mostly taken in by the imaginative world the filmmakers had constructed.

Lacking the humor rate of Shrek (B+), the computer animation is nevertheless crystal clear, letting the film stand as more of a visual treat than anything else; regardless, this is an entertaining family diversion that?ll likely please those outside that demographic region as well.
Disney and Pixar continue to release qualified flicks into the marketplace, as with the huge success of both Toy Story installments as well as Monsters Inc., the collaboration proves to be a winning one. Though A Bug?s Life doesn?t carry along as many memorable characters and lines as either Toy Story editions, the film pulls us into its fantasy world; but as fictional as the story is, we?re given a fable that could take the position of reality. Where Toy Story imagined what it would be like if children?s toys and gadgets were given life when human presence was not in sight, A Bug?s Life climbs into the world of ants and their every-day world.

The picture doesn?t accomplish its subject matter to a powerful extent (in comparison to let?s say Babe), but you?d surprised how much more sympathetic you may be to its topic after seeing the flick than ever before. This could be one of the studios? true intents, making its audience aware of worlds that we may not often think about, or pay respect to. With Disney and Pixar?s Finding Nemo in theaters, the filmmakers there go below sea level, taking on the position of the fish life; could this be their indirect approach at presenting their ethical view on fishing?

Since Disney is all about a magical world of happiness we can imagine that they probably will never outright express their politically correct attitudes, but we can possibly anticipate hints at what is morally right and wrong. After all, the filmmakers are going after a demographic of kids and their parents, and would not want the older folks to have to deal with upset little children. With that said, did Universal Pictures go too far with their beneath-the-surface messages in Babe? If they had crossed boundaries the film would most likely not have been such a worldwide favorite; they may also have had the supreme luxury of not being Disney, not having to watch out with the material presented.

The thing with A Bug?s Life is that one of the messages is not directly spoken, but rather can be picked up by observing the details of the film?s nature. This is a flick about ants and what they have to go through every day of their life; these ants are also troubled by bigger species that threaten the ants? existence and force them to give up their dignity.

The writers give the ant insects an almost human essence as if they are one of us; where everyone in reality generally gets annoyed by the tiny species, squashing them or killing them with absolute ease, A Bug?s Life treats them equally as if they are no different than us. In other words they may be small but that doesn?t mean they don?t matter. With any other film or studio we?d be prone to receive this message directly, and that is why I admire the studio collaborations, for they rely on intelligence rather than the cheesy execution of hammering substance into our heads.

Set in the world of an ant kingdom, A Bug?s Life is the story of, well, bugs, and we?re given a glance into their life through the eyes of Flik, voiced by Dave Foley. Flik, among many other ants, prepares a lineup of seeds, day by day, for the larger insects to come by and devour. The ants are depended on but they?re also doing their jobs for the sake of survival, as without supplying the bigger insects with a meal regularly, the ants will be slaughtered.

One day when their load is set just right for the dominant species to flock in without disagreement, Flik, being the unappreciated member of their society, accidentally tips over the pile of seeds, forcing the sack to collapse down their hill, getting lost in the pond. What results is a rage of fury, as the larger insects want their food and will do whatever it takes to get their message across.

With death a certainty if the ants? next load is not prepared in doubled quantity by the next season, Flik is sent off into the unknown to recruit a new flock of species to help their kingdom. What he finds is a pack of circus performers who he must rely on, but the problem lies in their talent, as food preparation is not their skill.

The great thing about A Bug?s Life is that whenever the humor is not in gear, the visual sight of this world in computer animation is constantly stunning, making the film a real delight. But the flick is also a solid step above most of the other family skewed pictures out there, as it accomplishes more in the field of entertainment and awe than the majority of attempts. With films like Treasure Planet, Lilo & Stitch, and Wild Thornberrys aimed to please moviegoers in the room, their intentions are good but their executions aren?t exactly. The animation in those family diversions is fairly straightforward, with scripts geared to keep children busy but few other patrons.

A Bug?s Life doesn?t necessarily block many folks out from the promise of entertainment, and while it isn?t top notch in that department, it certainly does the job for easy fulfillment. This is a film that grabs the viewer with its imaginative world, fascinates through its inventive ideas, brews up some good laughs, and in the end has one major goal: to make you feel good and happy.

The studio collaboration here certainly is not as profound in its messages and material as in the Toy Story installments (as well as Nemo), but Bug?s Life is still an example of why Disney and Pixar may never lose, for the studios understand how to play it just right.

DVD Features:
- Commentary by Director John Lasseter, Co-Director and Co-Writer Andrew Stanton and Supervising Film Editor Lee Unkrich
- Theatrical Trailers
- New to this Edition: A Bug's Life Activity Games, A Preview of Pixar's New Movie, Finding Nemo
- Original Featurettes
- Isolated Music Score (2.0 stereo), & Isolated Sound Effects Track (5.1 Surround)
- Pixar's Academy Award-Winning Animated Short "Geri's Game"
- Background Material: 1) Early Presentation Reel ("Fleabie"), 2) Original Story Treatment and Pitch Boards, 3) Character Designs, Concept Art, and Color Script, 4) Early Production Tests
- Behind the Scenes: 1) Featurette on the Creation of A Bug's Life, 2)Behind the Scenes Look at Voice Talent, 3) A Behind the Scenes Look at How the Movie was Re-Composed from its Original Widescreen Presentation to a Full Frame Presentation for Home Video Release, 4) Production Progression Demonstration, 5), Sound Engineer Gary Rydstrom on the Movie's Sound Design, 6) Storyboard-to-Final Film Split-Screen Comparison
- Deleted Scenes
- Full-Screen and Widescreen Anamorphic Formats

Audio Features:
- Dolby Digital 5.1 Surround Sound
Lee's Grade: B
Ranked #18 of 66 between The Last Days of Disco (#17) and Waking Ned Devine (#19) for 1998 movies.
Lee's Overall Grading: 2747 graded movies
A0.4%
B30.5%
C61.4%
D7.8%
F0.0%
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