"Excellent first outing by Dreamworks, but Pixar's still ahead"
Fans of CGI animation and Woody Allen are in for a treat"Antz" was the first of the two entries in the CGI insect derby this year, and it's a solid, sometimes spectacular performer. And by disguising itself as a kid flick, it might even open the field up to decidedly more adult fare in the future. As it is, it's an interesting movie and age-appropriate to all but the smallest of tykes.
But, advances in animation aside, it's still no "Toy Story."
"Z" is a neurotic worker ant voiced by Woody Allen who (moral alert!) wants to be more of an individual rather than a serial number slash cog in the machine. One night he stumbles into the disguised ant princess Bala (Sharon Stone) and dances with her, impressing her with his distinct individuality. But she has to go back to the gilded tower of the ant palace and her betrotal to General Madible (Gene Hackman) who has his own plans for running the colony. In defiance of advice from his friend Azteca (Jennifer Lopez) he trades places with his friend and soldier ant Weaver (Sly Stallone) and is promptly led into a slaughter which only he survives. He returns a hero, and his stance on individuality threatens Mandible's plans for conquest. Adventure and soul-searching ensue.
It is an enjoyable film, well-written and well-crafted by a Dreamworks studio desperately trying to beat "Bug's Life" to the punch. The uber-famous voice cast does a good job, but very often are given little to do (Danny Glover, Anne Bancroft, Jane Curtin, Dan Aykroyd, and Lopez might as well not be there). But quality aside, the heavy-handedness of the moral is off-putting, and puts the brakes on what should be a sweet little roller-coaster ride.
And damn it, it just doesn't have that indefinable CHARM that graced every frame of "Toy Story." It may have been the first, but it's still the one to beat.Works best as another push toward the American acknowledgement that animation isn't just for kids.