DreamWorks' blockbuster is a revolutionary political fable set in an ant colony. Low concept, or what? CGI allows Woody Allen to 'play' Z-4195, a neurotic worker ant unhappy with his lot. A chance encounter with a slumming Princess Bala (voiced by Stone) leads Z into an impetuous uniform switch with his soldier friend Weaver (Stallone) just as scheming General Mandible (Hackman) engineers a kamikaze war against the termites. Visually striking and dynamically shot, this has strong characters and no shortage of incident. Even so, parents may enjoy it more than their children. Most of the humour springs from the whiny, cowardly Z and will probably go over younger heads. Dramatic empathy similarly derives largely from adult concerns: romantic attraction, career disenchantment, the dawning of political consciousness. Call it 'angst'. The politics are the single most intriguing aspect: the colony functions as a quasi-fascist totalitarian state. Z's rebellion is at first a blow for individual liberty, but later assumes a social dimension. Unsurprisingly, the movie ultimately advocates a benign, enlightened oligarchy. At times, the film really is as lumpen as this makes it sound. But the trip to Insectopia sticks in the mind as the one sequence that matches Toy Story's inspiration and existential wit.
Cast and crew
Eric Darnell, Tim Johnson
Todd Alcott, Chris Weitz, Paul Weitz
Woody Allen Dan Aykroyd Anne Bancroft Jane Curtin Gene Hackman Jennifer Lopez Sylvester Stallone Sharon Stone Christopher Walken