(By Gerry Wang)

ANTZ (voiced by Woody Allen, Sharon Stone, Sylvester Stallone, Jennifer Lopez, Gene Hackman, Christopher Walken)
by Gerry Wang

_____I love this new computer animation stuff. It makes things usually unfilmable possible to be put on the silver screen. And it looks spectacular. TOY STORY was a great movie. Not only for kids, but also for adults. It was the first all-computer-generated movie, and it set the standard for those kinds of films.

_____Unfortunately, ANTZ didn't meet the standard set by TOY STORY. But it was still a very entertaining movie. It just didn't charm me the way TOY STORY did. I laughed at ANTZ. But I laughed even harder at TOY STORY. The caliber of the special effects, however, are quite evenly matched.

_____ANTZ is the story of a neurotic ant named Z (Woody Allen) who's sick of his menial job as a worker ant. All he does is dig all day. He wants to be unique. He doesn't want to be literally one outta a billion. His best friend is Weaver, a soldier ant (Sylvester Stallone). Weaver's job is in the military. Z's job is digging tunnels. But their jobs don't compare to the lush life led the royal ant family, headed by the Queen and the Princess Bala (Sharon Stone)

_____There is also the villainous General Mandible (Gene Hackman) and his henchman Cutter (Christopher Walken). General Mandible has a secret agenda to overthrow the queen and start his own colony, w/ Princess Bala as his wife. He wants to kill all who are loyal to the queen, so he decides to send the soldier ants who are loyalists into a suicide battle against the termites, who look huge and freakin scary.

_____That day, Princess Bala sneaks off to the colony pub, and she meets Z, who's instantly smitten by the beautiful princess. (Of course, ants really cannot look that attractive to anyone. This is a problem I have w/ the movie. Everyone looks the same. It's hard to tell one ant from the other w/o the aid of their garb. Anyways....) Z and Bala dance, and have a blast. But she's a princess, plus she's betrothed, so she can't have anything to do w/ Z. Z, being a loser, is crushed.

_____So the next day Z asks Weaver to switch roles w/ him, since the royal troops are gonna meet the royal family that day before they head off to battle the termites. Z feels this is his only chance to ever see the princess again. So Z joins the army, not knowing they're going to war. So he's thrust into the gruesome battle, and emerges as the only ant who made it out alive. He's instantly exalted as a hero. The whole colony is abuzz w/ the news that Z is Da Man.

_____Somehow, Z winds up kidnapping Bala by accident, and they both set off to look for "Insectopia," sorta an Eden for bugs. When they find it, it's so freakin hilarious. I won't spoil it for you. Eventually Z overthrows Mandible, and gets his wish to marry the princess and be a hero after all.

_____The main problem I had w/ ANTZ was that it was too quickly paced. There were no moments where we could just marvel at the technology used to generate the film. The computer graphics are stunning in this film, but we don't get the time to fully appreciate them. It coulda used another 10 minutes of film to its 1 hr. 20 min running time.

_____The theme of individualism is a unique theme for basically a cartoon, and the movie is not only for kids. There are grown-up references to democracy and Nazism, but there is also a riproaring adventure story for kids. Seeing the world from the perspective of an ant was very refreshing. We get to see how water is like to an ant, how big things would be......... a lot of attention was paid to detail, which is something I love about this movie.

_____Overall, I think ANTZ is a good movie. Not a great one, but quite satisfying. The actors who lend their voices do a great job at capturing each ant's personality, especially Woody Allen, whose nerdy, quirky personality is just what Z should be like. Go see this in a matinee for sure.

Chick-o-meter: 3 (Girls will like ANTZ, but there's graphic killing)

*See 9/29/'98 video pick of the week for scale info