Wednesday, August 09, 2006

The Ant Bully

Because I Can!

First, let's get the obvious out of the way. The ants in The Ant Bully look suspiciously similar to those in Antz (1998). Powered by voices from recognizable stars, Antz had a more direct romance theme applied to it, whereas I felt The Ant Bully had a stronger social message to put across, given atrocities that are happening in our world right now.

With The Ant Bully, I find that it is a surprising coincidence that this movie is released during a time when countries are whacking other countries, just because they can. Kinda like a bully, as Lucas Nickle in the film is. However, put into context, this troubled kid is a victim too, and can only lash out at others who are smaller in size, and helpless at being in a situation where it's almost impossible to retaliate. Things like the ants in his lawn.

OK, so hands up those of you who had been guilty one point in time or another, tortured some innocent ant going about its daily chores of collecting crumbs. I have. Ranging from barbaric acts like burning them with a lighter until they become crisp, or dropping them onto the rice cooker lid when the rice is cooking, having this sick glee in watching them run around escaping to no avail, or even splicing them into half with a blade.

Lucas Nickle (voiced by Zach Tyler) is dubbed "the destroyer" by the ant colony (populated with familiar star voices like Julia Roberts, Nicholas Cage, Meryl Streep, Bruce Campbell and Paul Giamatti), given his atrocious acts on their habitat. It's a pretty magical like colony that nature designed, with various ant work groups working with efficiency in keeping their colony alive, and they even have their own version of a Merlin, Zoc (Cage), who conjures up magical potions to teach Lucas a lesson.

And it is precisely this lesson that is taught, with Lucas serving "community time", that gives strength to this animated film. As with most arguments, disagreements and such, it usually boils down to the fundamentals of the lack of understanding. Like the rascist bloggers who are sentenced not to jail, but to serve time in living with a community they fail to understand, so that they can learn and hopefully, be enlightened.

It's also about the building of friendships from once enemies, and included here, though fleetingly, is both a subtle reminder and a commentary about the innate selfishness of human beings in general, in our pursuit for individual self gain, as compared to the natural cooperation amongst a colony of ants, for the good of the community.

What makes The Ant Bully stand out, is its departure to a lot of elements which have become staple to recent animated flicks. Gone here are the pop songs played during the movie, or characters breaking out into song and dance. While jokes are still incorporated, it's more witty than slapstick, and there is a severe lack of references to current pop culture, which I thought was a refreshing change. However, there was only one sequence which reminded me of Star War's X-Wing fighters and their attack on the Death Star, right down to the same plot details of having just 1 shot down a shaft to take out the enemy.

Don't be put off by the animation similarities to Antz. By itself, there isn't any flaws in the graphics, which turned out superbly when watched in a digital format. Its storyline will be able to engage you, even though at first glance it might seem a little simple at a superficial level.

Oh, and I was laughing hard at the peanut joke here too :-)

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