This file was generated 2002-11-28 06:10 GMT. This movie's information hasn't changed since 2002-01-07.
Scott Ventura >> Movie Commentary >> December 1998 >> A Bug's Life
In its time, the animation for Toy Story was really amazing. The richness of the world was awe-inspiring, and the fantastic new possibilities for "camera" movement were used to their advantage. Watching A Bug's Life, I was hit with the same awe, only more so. The imagery here is astonishingly real everywhere the designers chose to make it real. The natural textures of the plants and ground look excellent. The movie wisely avoids having human characters, so the insufficient quality with which they would have been rendered is not an issue.
The movie imbues the audio track with some excellent jokes. The sound design, by Gary Rydstrom is wonderful. At the insect scale, the sound of a grasshopper starting his wings would indeed sound like a motorcycle revving up. The sound of a bird pecking the ground would shake you quite powerfully. The IMDB lists fourteen people in the sound department, and I'd take my hat off to them if I were wearing one.
The sound design and the visual feel are among this movie's greatest assets. Unfortunately, the plot and screenwriting don't keep pace. I predict that the story doesn't lend itself to as much repeat viewing as Toy Story, but it'll be a while before I know for sure. The movie is certainly stuffed to the gills with throw-away visual gags, and probably rewards repeat inspections.
The showing that I attended was preceded by Jan Pinkava's wonderful Geri's Game. A definite crowd pleaser, Geri's Game appears to be a simple game of chess, but Geri himself proves to be quite a character (or two). The surfaces of the chess set are impeccably well done, so much so that it makes the rendering of Geri look weak in comparison. The editing techniques used to create the characters are perfect, practically winking at the audience who know that they are suspending disbelief to allow it to work.
I was troubled by the choice to use human-style eyes on most of the insects. While it certainly lends itself to toy production, it seems a little unnecessarily kiddish. The nuances with the iris encourage examination of the sclera as well, and those are flawless.
In a move that has me a bit upset, Disney chose to delay the release of the Deluxe Edition of the DVD for A Bug's Life until several months after I'd bought the regular version. While I resent the 50 USD list price, I am much less happy for not having known that a version of the disc with so much extra content was going to be made available so soon. As a result, I will now live without the commentaries, isolated score and sound effects tracks, deleted scenes, design concepts, behind-the-scenes goodies, and explanation of the conversion from wide screen to full screen. As a late-blooming fan of the movie, I now really want all that stuff, but find it hard to justify investing in it a second time. The rest of this section is my now-half-inappropriate opinion of the non-deluxe disc.
After seeing the quality of the DVD of Antz, I'm surprised that the DVD for A Bug's Life offers so little. Other than both versions of the credit sequences and Geri's Game, the disc has nothing to offer. There aren't even animated menus! Perhaps it's just sour grapes, or perhaps all that capacity went to the movie itself. The quality of the picture is exceptional. The direct-from-digital transfer is very sharp and the colors are vivid. Both wide screen and full screen versions are on the disc, but sometimes it's hard to tell which one is better. The full screen is "recomposed", which indicates to me that it's been decropped in places, and actually shows more of some scenes. A side-by-side comparison is difficult without two players, though, because the multiple-angle feature isn't used to switch between the two.
One fairly large annoyance has to do with the credit out-takes. The out-takes don't start until about ninety seconds into the credits. When selecting the out-take reels from the menus, I'd expect to see just the out-takes, and perhaps rendered at the same screen resolution as the movie. Unfortunately, that isn't the case. I'll admit that it is possible to fast-forward through the first ninety seconds of credits, it shouldn't be necessary to do so. Fortunately, unlike the Austin Powers DVD, the combination of credits and movie doesn't cause a quality issue. I have noticed that reaching the credits after watching the movie in full-screen superimposes the credits over full-screen rendering of the out-takes, but that's only available for the first batch. The second batch, only available from the menus, is always wide screen.