"A Bug’s Life" is a great second chapter from Pixar, but it’s not quite as good as some of their other pictures.
A Bug's Life (1998, Blu-ray)
Directors: John Lasseter Andrew Stanton (co-director)
Writers: John Lasseter (story) (as John Lassetter) & Andrew Stanton (story) & Joe Ranft (story) Andrew Stanton (screenplay) & Don McEnery (screenplay) (as Donald McEnery) & Bob Shaw (screenplay) Geefwee Boedoe additional writer: story Jas
Features: * Commentary * Documentaries * Featurettes * Short Films * BD-Live * Digital Copy
Dave Foley ... Flik (voice)
Kevin Spacey ... Hopper (voice)
Julia Louis-Dreyfus ... Atta (voice)
Hayden Panettiere ... Dot (voice)
Phyllis Diller ... Queen (voice)
Richard Kind ... Molt (voice)
David Hyde Pierce ... Slim (voice)
Joe Ranft ... Heimlich (voice)
Denis Leary ... Francis (voice)
Jonathan Harris ... Manny (voice)
Madeline Kahn ... Gypsy Moth (voice)
Bonnie Hunt ... Rosie (voice)
Michael McShane ... Tuck / Roll (voice)
John Ratzenberger ... P.T. Flea (voice)
Brad Garrett ... Dim (voice)
Roddy McDowall ... Mr. Soil (voice)
Edie McClurg ... Dr. Flora (voice)
Alex Rocco ... Thorny (voice)
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Following "Toy Story," all eyes were on Pixar. Would they be a one-hit wonder with just one successful title, or would Pixar become a studio whose properties were defined by genuine greatness. While, in the grand scheme of things, "A Bug’s Life" isn’t a perfect film -- it’s probably Pixar’s second "worst," if one can really call it that, after the honestly dreadful "Cars" -- it’s still eons better than most animated films from other studios. And any film that borrows the story foil from "Seven Samurai" is OK in my book.
"A Bug’s Life" follows Flick (Dave Foley), a clever little ant whose inventions have caused some problems in his local anthill, particularly after one of his experiments causes the ants’ offering to the grasshoppers (more on them later) to fall off the island into a pool of water. When the grasshoppers, who are basically, nihilistic nasty bikers (lead by Kevin Spacey), arrive and threaten the ants, Flick is cast away in search of bigger, stronger bugs that can scare off the grasshoppers once and for all.
Flick manages to find a flea circus loaded with adventurous, but pathetically incapable bugs and he lugs them back to his island to help. The only problem: Flick has no idea these bugs are performers and not real heroes.
"A Bug’s Life" moves in fits and starts, and some of characters (namely the grasshoppers) are quite scary (particularly for young children), but the story and characters outweigh some of the minor problems, keeping this light and breezy story entertaining. Under directors Andrew Stanton and John Lasseter’s watchful eyes, the film never loses track of its characters, always keeping them right at the surface.
The film does hold some shades of similarity to "Toy Story," but most similarities are merely surface level or contextual. Some might complain about the "Seven Samurai" shades, but honestly, every few years there’s a film that borrows that classics’ base plot.
Looking back, it’s amazing how much CG animation has advanced. Compared to Pixar’s latest efforts, "A Bug’s Life" looks nearly archaic (though it still looks better than other studios) with thicker, less-detailed characters and minor flaws peeking through from time-to-time.
"A Bug’s Life" might not be Pixar’s finest effort (my personal favorite is "WALL-E"), but for a second feature-length film with mounting anticipation and a lot at stake for the young studio, we could (and usually do) get a lot worse. "A Bug’s Life" isn’t an animated classic, but it is a wonderful slice of great entertainment from a classic animation studio.
Film Report Card:
Entertainment Value: A-
Film Value: B+
"A Bug’s Life" is presented in 2.35:1 widescreen using the AVC MPEG-4 codec on a dual-layered BD50 disc consuming 41.6 gigs of disc space. Like Disney’s other major animated releases, this print is simply stunning in high-def. I was genuinely amazed by how far CG animation has come over the past few years -- this picture looks dated compared to newer Pixar release. Image quality is incredibly sharp, clean and crisp with colorful images filling the screen. There are no intrusive elements like digital artifacting or edge enhancement marring the overall presentation. There is a surprising amount of depth to this print as well. This is a reference catalog animated release.
Disney presents a near-reference lossless DTS-HD 6.1 Master Audio track for fans to enjoy. While the box listed this as a 5.1 mix, my system outputted it in 6.1. This is a wonderfully elaborate track powered by a dynamically designed three-dimensional surround experience. Center dialogue is perfect. Surround placement is perfect. Bass is robust and aggressive when need be. Discrete effects are evenly balanced and come as frequently as one would hope. This presentation is extraordinary, besting many top-tier new releases by a long shot.
Extras and Packaging:
The two-disc release comes packaged in a standard plastic blue hard case with a cardboard slipcover featuring the picture’s original theatrical artwork. Many extras here have been ported over from the previous special edition DVD releases and Disney has been kind enough to include a few BD exclusive extras as well.
• Commentary -- Featuring director John Lasseter, this feature is ported over from the previous DVD.
• Short Film: Geri’s Game (5 minutes, HD) -- The short seen before the theatrical release of "A Bug’s Life."
• Short Film: Grasshopper and the Ants (8 minutes, HD) -- A great classic animated short from 1934.
• Pre-production Featurettes (33 minutes, SD) -- Five featurettes about the film’s pre-production ported from the DVD.
• Production Featurettes (26 minutes, SD) -- Seven featurettes ported from the DVD.
• Design Featurettes (14 minutes, SD) -- One featurette and an intro, again ported from the DVD.
• Release and Outtakes (14 minutes, SD) -- Here, fans are treated to promotional materials including trailers, posters and character interviews. The outtakes are broken into three sections -- a featurette about the outtakes, the "original" outtakes and an "alternate" outtakes reel.
• Intro by John Lasseter (1 minute, HD) -- A pretty self-explanatory intro for this picture’s 10th anniversary.
• Filmmakers Round Table (21 minutes, HD) -- John Lasseter, Kevin Rehar, Anderson and Andrew Stanton lead up this informative, exciting discussion about all things Pixar.
• A Bug’s Life: First Draft (10 minutes, HD) -- An all-new animated sequence from the pages of the John Lasseter’s original treatment.
• BD-Live -- Connects viewers to Disney’s web portal where fans can chat about the film, check their Rewards points, mail and more.
• Digital Copy (SD) -- For transfer to portable media players.
"A Bug’s Life" is a great second chapter from Pixar, but it’s not quite as good as some of their other pictures. The Blu-ray, on the other hand, is just as good as other Pixar releases complete with old and new features. If only this disc came with a DVD copy of the film, this would be an absolutely perfect release.
Blu-ray Report Card:
HD Content: B
Recommendation: Well worth owning.
On BD: May 19, 2009.
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----R. L. Shaffer