Reviewed By Chris Parry
Posted 09/22/98 18:27:44

"Could have been awesome if it weren't for the celebrity overload."
4 stars (Worth A Look)

Every year Hollywood finds a new theme. If it's not dinosaurs, it's volcanoes. If it's not volcanoes, it's falling chunks of meteor. This season has found it's new theme. Animated bugs.

As with every other seasonal fad, the A-List has jumped aboard in droves.

Woody Allen is the voice of Z-4195, an ant with chronic depression. He doesn't want to be one in a million, he wants to be his own man... uh... insect.

Z falls in love with the queen's daughter (Sharon Stone) and while trying to grab her attention, lands himself in the middle of a war with the evil termites. Meanwhile, the nasty General Mandible (Gene Hackman) and his offsider Colonel Cutter (Christopher Walken) work to take over the colony by means most foul. Can Z throw off his shackles of conformity and be the hero his colony needs to survive?

It must be said, the CGI animation of Antz is remarkable. The 'Toy Story' technology of a few years ago is already passe and unless characters start jumping off the screen, running under my seat and stealing my popcorn, this is as good as animation can really get. Thankfully, unlike most recent animated features, the story is original, and the characters don't break into song every three minutes.

At times the celebrities behind the animation detract from the events unfolding on the screen. The opening scene, where Z talks to his ant-shrink, couldn't be any more Woody if he had a 12 year old asian ant hanging off him.

Christopher Walken's voice is so unmistakable that it's invariably funny when it shouldn't be.

Sharon Stone could have been a redheaded albino midget and nobody would be the wiser. She's just completely bland, indicating her fame must truly be a case of tits over talent.

Dan Aykroyd, Anne Bancroft and Danny Glover get about six lines of dialogue each, making it worth querying why they were even there.

Thankfully Sly Stallone and Jennifer Lopez work well as Z's best buddies. Stallone's recent move away from muscled up gruntfests has served two purposes - it's saved his career and freed up some roles so Jean-Claude Van Dumb can put food on the table.

What it all comes down to is a misuse of resources. Making an animated feature is supposed to allow the storytellers to portray a complete fantasy. We're supposed to be able to immerse ourselves in this imaginary world. And if the producers had allowed the animiation, story and dialogue to be the stars of the show, this would have been an awesome film.

But they didn't. They took the easy option of filling seats with stars who we never see and, more often than not, who's voices we don't even recognise.

But we sure as hell see their names on the poster.

Despite the celebrity overload, Antz is a fine piece of work. It's amusing enough, attractive enough and it won't send adults to sleep. Take a kid and enjoy the show, or just buy the inevitable happy meal.

© Copyright HBS Entertainment, Inc.