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Review: ANTZ

Old 04-07-99, 08:15 AM
  #1  
DVDRules1
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ANTZ:Signature Series
Dreamworks SKG
1.85:1(Anamorphic Enhanced)/Dolby Digital 5.1
89 Minutes
Rated:PG
Region:1
Dual Layer:YES

The Film:

Why can't Woody Allen just have fun?

As Z, a worker ant, Allen is lively and displays a sparkle that he usually doesn't even have in his own films. "Antz" is smart and witty and sharp in the way that some of Allen's better films are as well. It's not really much of a kid's film in my humble opinion; it's a little too violent and a little too adult for most kids to really understand.

As the film begins, we are introduced to all of the little ant characters. Z, Princess Bala(Sharon Stone), Azteca(Jennifer Lopez), Mandible(Gene Hackman), Weaver(Sly Stallone), etc. Everyone goes about their own special task. As we've learned in countless science classes, there are worker insects, soldier insects, etc. Our main character, Z, is a lowly worker who's unhappy with his place in life.

Princess Bala(Stone) decides to see how the lower class lives and asks Z to dance. Z dances like he wants, instead of doing a march like all the other insects. Bala finds this freedom intoxicating, but after a bar fight, the two are broken up. Z finds himself trading places with Weaver(who's a soldier ant) to get close to the Princess once again. Unfortunately, the soldiers are about to head off to war with the termites(they march under a night sky that looks a little too insanely much like the Dreamworks logo) In a battle that looks a little too much like last year's film, "Starship Troopers", the antz get defeated by the termites. Z is the only one left.

Anyways, back to the movie. Z is brought back to the colony as a war hero, the only living survivor of the termite attack. Running from capture, Z finds himself kidnapping Bala and running across the surface world, looking for a fantasy world for ants, "Insectopia."

The animation in "Antz" is nothing short of outstanding. In sweeping shots looking over the ant colony, we see hundreds, maybe thousands, of defined ants, going about their jobs. The ants themselves are wonderfully done, built to give quite the hint of the actor voicing them. The script is frequently hilarious, with sharp and incredibly witty humor.

A wonderfully funny and suprisingly sharp(at least for a kid's film...or is it a kid's film?)script provides the backbone for a fun and funny film that I think older kids will enjoy as well as adults.

THE DVD:
IMAGE: Stunning. A truly beautiful anamorphic 1.85:1 letterboxed transfer by Dreamworks. There is an incredible amount of detail in the scenes where we're under the ground in the ant colony and this DVD brings all of those wonderful little details and sights home crisply and clearly. DVD is the only place outside of the theater where you will get the full impact and all the jokes that this movie contains. In terms of colors, the oranges and reds of the ANTZ look brilliant and wonderfully vibrant here; the same sort of quality that the colors had when I viewer this film in the theater, and on this disc, in my eyes, the colors look slightly stronger than I remember seeing them in the theater. The colors and shadows in the ant colony are fantastically detailed and incredibly well-defined. Contrast is wonderful and color saturation is perfect in an image that looks absolutely electric; even the darker scenes are stunningly crisp and razor sharp with beautiful shadow detail. The daylight scenes especially look beautiful and very well-defined with incredibly rich colors and perfect contrast. In terms of image quality, this is one of the best discs I've seen, with great depth-of-field.Absolutely reference quality. No artifacts.No noise.No pixelization, No problems at all.

SOUND: Terrific. The sound mix is just as animated as the movie with plenty of wonderful FX, music and outstanding dialogue clarity. This is an especially wonderful and enveloping sound quality with excellent and deep bass and a wonderfully crisp and clear music score(credited to Gavin Greenaway,Harry Gregson-Williams,Steve Jablonsky,John Powell,Geoff Zanelli....wow,a lot of people!). There are some incredible sequences such as when the ANTZ march into battle and you can practically hear every one of the hundreds of Antz march along to war, starting the battle scene which, like the rest of this film, has an incredibly agressive and rich sound field. Definitely wonderful sound that brings you every little detail of this insect world with stunning clarity. Again, I have to make a mention of the score; which not only sounds fantastic, but is one of the most fun animated scores I've heard in a while. Dialogue is so clear it's stunning.

MENUS: Fantastically and creatively animated, not to mention incredibly easy to navigate. Each selection brings up an animated response such as a wrecking ball made of ANTZ coming towards the screen. Scene selection is also animated, but even more than the animation, I think the creators of this disc should be commended for making it so easy to navigate through all of the features.

EXTRAS:
Excellent, excellent job by Dreamworks in planning the extra features on this disc.

*We're given a documentary on the making of computer animation that is fascinating. This takes you through every step of the details that come together to put animation like this on screen. We're lead through all of the animation details from the early animation to the final shots and even the storyboards on these scenes by both of the directors. It's incredible to see the most basic parts of these animated creatures come together and during this documentary, we see even the most basic animation and then you see each detail added during this documentary. The directors are also wonderful here, giving a great discussion during this documentary on what went into the making of the feature film. At times in this documentary there are also instances where we see four windows, the most basic animation, the lighting, the motion and then the final shot. This documentary is about 13 minutes or so long.

*A documentary feature on the revolutionary new facial animation process that was used by PDI Animation in the making of this movie. This documentary is narrated by the directors as well and only runs a couple of minutes. Still very neat to see the way that the detailed facial animation was brought into being, though.

*There is also a documentary about the early and final character designs that went into the characters of "ANTZ". This is also narrated by the directors of "Antz." It's really interesting to see what the original ideas about character looks that were based more on real insect faces were like before the animators decided on the final character look we see in the film. Like the documentary about animation where we were taken through the process of animating these characters, this is an incredibly interesting documentary that takes us through the creative process of just who these characters were going to be and what they would look like. It goes through the process that the filmmakers go through to come up with "Z", "Bala" and others. The quality of the video of these documentaries is excellent, as well. This documentary runs about 10 minutes.

*A general production featurette with cast and crew interviews that lasts about 5 minutes.

*A commentary track from both directors that is wonderfully hilarious. The commentary goes into the details of what it was like to work with Woody Allen as well as some of the other incredible actors that took part in doing vocal work for the film. They also talk about what their inspirations were for many of the characters and animated settings. The best commentary tracks are both educational and entertaining and this commentary is definitely both. The commentary also goes further into talking about how this film started off in the begining and ended up and the details of how and why it was changed.The perfect commentary is educational and entertaining; the perfect commentators are excited about what they're talking about and the directors definitely are; they're obviously having a lot of fun talking here.

*The theatrical trailer.

*4 TV ads. These ads are selected once, then play one right after the other.

*Cast and crew list. There are notes about the directors, but there is only a list in terms of cast.

OVERALL: It really doesn't get too much better than this on DVD. "ANTZ" is a wonderfully funny and beautifully done animated film, and Dreamworks deserves a whole lot of praise for bringing this film home on DVD in such an outstanding presentation. 20th Century Fox and a few other studios should definitely take a look at these releases and learn how to make a great disc in terms of picture quality and features for the money. Although New Line and Warner are making Special Editions for $24.99, I'm quite happy with the extras and presentation here for $34.99: this is an excellent film and the digital source for the anamorphic enhanced image looks absolutely beautiful. Great sound, great image, very good extras and beautiful menus and presentation make for a highly recommended DVD.

GRADES:
The Film:95/A = (475/500 possible points)
Video Quality:97/A = (388/400 possible points)
Audio Quality:95/A = (380/400 possible points)
Extras:90/A- = (270/300 possible points)
Value:90/A- = (270/300 possible points)
Menus:96/A = (192/200 possible points)
Presentation: 94.5% = (94.5/100 possible points)(presentation is the average of the audio,video,extras and menus grades)

OVERALL POINTS:2069.5/2200
TOTAL GRADE:94.06%/A
STARS:*****/*****
Recommend: Definitely recommend a purchase.

My Site: A Guide To Current DVD

 
Old 04-08-99, 12:02 AM
  #2  
Cat
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I missed this movie at the theaters, but couldn't wait for the DVD. I was not dissapointed. The whole experience, from the title screen to the actual movie, was fun. I loved the movie tremendously and the features will keep you busy for a while. I recommend it to anyone considering buying the DVD.

Cat
 
Old 04-09-99, 04:40 PM
  #3  
DelGrec
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Definitely worth buying. A great movie and DVD!!!
 
Old 04-10-99, 01:19 PM
  #4  
John Sy
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Do people prefer this movie to Toy Story? I know TS isn't on DVD yet but I thought that while Antz was quite good, TS totally kicks butt and would love to hear it on Dolby Digital 5.1 on DVD.
 
Old 04-15-99, 01:20 PM
  #5  
PoorBoy
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Okay, I'm sorry there's a little bit of a difference between reviewing a movie and ruining it for people that haven't seen it (me). I'm suprised you didn't blow the ending as well. I know we're supposed to be reviewing movies in here but you should be more careful about divulging the plot. That should be left to the viewer, just give them a taste and throw out some opinions. I enjoyed your DVD review but really think you should not tell as much of the story line in the movie review. The only part that I thought of as a review was the part about Starship Troopers like fight scene. The rest of it is merely a summary of the film (which is bad). Just for future reference could you warn me if all your reviews are like this, in which case I'm going to have to stay away from them. Thanks a bunch.
 
Old 04-16-99, 11:33 PM
  #6  
darell
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DVDrules -

Superb review. I figure if I don't want the summary, I can read about a word into it and skip it if I want. Having said that, I don't think my viewing of the movie will be any less enjoyable just because I now know that a bunch of ants get trashed by a gang of termites. The amount of time you spent on the review is appreciated. I'll have to take a look at your site.
 

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