A Bug’s Life Review
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Back in 1998, the whole digital animation thing was still brand-spankin’-new. Pixar’s Toy Story had taken the industry by storm in 1995, and everyone had waited three years to see what the animation renegades would come up with next, wondering whether the enormous success of their first film was just a fluke. Then along came A Bug’s Life.

Directed by John Lasseter and Andrew Stanton, Pixar’s second full-length feature tells the story of a tiny community that’s in big trouble. Every year, the ants of Ant Island harvest seeds for their annual offering to Hopper (Kevin Spacey) and his menacing gang of grasshoppers. They hand over the food, and the grasshoppers go away; it’s as simple as that. This year, however, there’s a problem. Just as the grasshoppers are approaching, ant misfit and amateur inventor Flik (Dave Foley) accidentally loses the offering. A furious Hopper then demands that the ants collect twice their usual offering before the last leaf falls from the tree in the fall.

Determined to make it up to Princess Atta (Julia Louis-Dreyfus) and the rest of the colony, Flik leaves the island in search of help. He returns with what he believes are the warriors who will help them fight the grasshoppers. But when he discovers that his “warriors” are actually a group of failed circus bugs, he scrambles to come up with another plan.

Like Toy Story, Pixar’s A Bug’s Life boasts the best of just about everything. The animation is absolutely stunning, right down to the minutest of details. Those three years after Toy Story were obviously well spent—because, from the massive colony of ants to the grassy fields, everything is crystal clear and sometimes almost lifelike. It’s a work of digital art.

But A Bug’s Life is more than just a bunch of pretty pictures. The story has all of the fun—and all of the heart—that you’d expect from a Disney movie. There’s action and adventure—and plenty of humor, too (for even more laughs, be sure to stick around through the credits). And, in the end, there’s a heartwarming message about making a difference—no matter how small or insignificant you may think you are.

Best of all, though, are the characters—especially the circus bugs, like Francis (Denis Leary), the tough male ladybug, and Tuck and Roll (Michael McShane), the enthusiastic but unintelligible acrobatic twins. There are so many characters that they don’t get a whole lot of development on their own, but they’re developed enough to make them all lovable and entertaining (as well as memorable) in their own way.

With its entertaining story, its eccentric insect characters, and its innovative animation, A Bug’s Life is both delightfully Disney and strikingly Pixar. If it’s been a while since you enjoyed the antics of Flik, Atta, and little Dot (Hayden Panettiere), it’s time for another visit to Ant Island.

Blu-ray Review:
Whenever I watch one of Disney’s animated Blu-ray releases, I’m reminded why I made the switch to Blu-ray in the first place. After all, this is the way that A Bug’s Life was meant to be seen: in jaw-dropping high-definition. (Note to electronics salespeople: pop this movie into the Blu-ray players at the store, and customers won’t be able to resist.)

Another one of the reasons for switching to Blu-ray, however, is its ability to cram boatloads of features onto just one disc—because while the new Blu-ray release of A Bug’s Life may come with two discs, the second disc is simply a digital copy of the film. Everything else is on a single, feature-filled disc.

This release includes hours of extras—including the Oscar-winning short, Geri’s Game, and the classic short, Grasshopper and the Ants (1934). There are deleted scenes, interviews, trailers, both sets of the infamous outtakes, and pages and pages (and pages) of galleries. And if you’re interested in Pixar’s production, there are several highly entertaining (and informative) features on everything from pre-production to sound design.

The Pixar gang is a campy, fun-loving bunch, and they make these extras well worth watching, if only for laughs. So when you pick up your copy of this enjoyable animated film, be sure to set aside some time to peruse the features menu, too.

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