Second Union

Second Union

REWIND: A Bug’s Life (1998) – Movie Review

Welcome back to my series of Pixar reviews! We last left off with the studio’s first film, Toy Story, so that means we are now onto their second film…A Bug’s Life. In my ranking of each and every Pixar film, this was number 15, only above Cars 2 and Finding Dory. Pixar has never really made an extremely terrible film. Cars 2 is a low point, but it’s not the worst animated movie I’ve seen by a long shot. A Bug’s Life is not a bad film. In fact, it’s a good film. But it’s on the lower end of the spectrum. Let’s discuss the movie.

The film is about a colony of ants, who must provide food to a group of savage grasshoppers every season. When an ant named Flik accidentally causes the food to be destroyed, he goes out in search of warrior bugs to fight off the grasshoppers. The story in this movie is extremely clichéd, but it’s a Disney movie, and Pixar was still working the kinks out at this point. This was the first time a Pixar film’s story was thin, and it isn’t the last, as the studio has had a recent trend with thin plots. I’ll give it a pass, because, after this, Pixar’s film’s were really appealing to all audiences, instead of just kids.

The animation is a step up from Toy Story. There was a point near the 49-minute mark where the character models looked a bit unfinished, but the rest is very solid. When the ants were running in one scene, their leg and body movements were a bit choppy, but the plants, bugs, and environments, while bland at points are really well animated and detailed.

Let’s talk about the villain, Hopper, played by Kevin Spacey. This guy is a maniacal, ruthless character, and that makes him one of the best Disney has offered. Unfortunately, he actually isn’t in the movie that much, but what we get of him is awesome. When he is confronting the ants, you can really feel the fear going through them, because this dude is scary as hell. He doesn’t hold back. He will threaten innocent little children as long as he can get his point across.

The other characters, especially the circus troupe of bugs, are very three-dimensional. While there isn’t any somber backstory to them, there doesn’t have to be. Their actions, emotions and much more come into play here, and it makes the initially boring group become much more fun. Some of the comedy does feel forced here, though. There’s a lot of puns that are used, like when the grasshoppers are throwing mosquitoes into a dartboard, or when a mosquito asks for a Bloody Mary in a bar. On the other hand, some of it does deliver, mainly when it relates to the characters. Francis, a ladybug, is constantly mistaken for a woman, even though he is male. Heimlich, a plump, caterpillar, longs to become a butterfly. When he finally transforms at the end of the film, the wings are very, very tiny.

The music composed by Randy Newman, is, of course, amazing. The main theme is, while not as memorable as others in the Pixar library, consistently entertaining. The rest of the score is good as well and is a charismatic accompaniment.

Some problems do arise in pacing. The first and third acts are pretty fast-paced, but the second falters, and it drags the film down. It’s a bit inconsistent, but it isn’t that big an issue when you look at it in full scope.

THE VERDICT

A Bug’s Life is an inconsistent, though mostly entertaining, animated film. The humor doesn’t always deliver, and the villain barely shows up. However, the film is a good, while not phenomenal, addition in Pixar’s library. I’m going to give A Bug’s Life B.

A Bug’s Life stars Dave Foley, Kevin Spacey, Julia Louis-Dreyfus, Hayden Panettiere, Phyllis Diller, Richard Kind, David Hyde Pierce, Joe Ranft, Denis Leary, Jonathan Harris, Madeline Kahn, Bonnie Hunt, Mike McShane. Directed by John Lasseter, Andrew Stanton.

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