Reviewed by: Angus Wolfe Murray

Forget the fancy stars on voice patrol, this is a gloriously inventive and visually exciting animated feature that takes risks, breaks new ground and avoids the mind-numbing torture of Andew Lloyd Soundalike ballads. DreamWorks could have played safe with their first salvo against Fort Disney. Instead, they put Woody Allen in the lead role, as an insecure, neuroses-on-tap insect, who doesn't see the point of being a worker. "The whole system makes me feel inadequate," he complains. His psychantrist is delighted. "We have made a breakthrough," he cries, triumphantly. "You ARE inadequate!"

Woody-voiced Zee, the ant who can't go with the flow and keeps telling his friends that doing what you're told is the next worst thing to slavery. His friends say, "Yeah, yeah..." and get on with the digging. Rebels don't have a place in this underground society, ruled by a birth machine, the queen (Anne Bancroft), and protected - some might say dominated - by the army, whose General Mandible (Gene Hackman) has an agenda of his own.

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One evening after work, the Princess (Sharon Stone), who is spoilt and bored and officially engaged to the dastardly General M, goes slumming in the disco bar, where she meets Zee, slurping aphid beer and banging on about the injustice of life, and ends up on the floor doing a jive, which would never normally be allowed. She rather likes the experience. Zee loves it, especially Her Royalness.

This is the start of a great adventure that takes Zee and the Princess out into the world beyond, where a rubbish tip becomes Insectopia and a boy in trainers a fearsome creature. Meanwhile, back in Antzville, the general is planning a coup.

Rather than follow Disney's lead, as 20th Century Fox did with Anastasia, DreamWorks have looked to Toy Story for inspiration. The script is witty and the animation has moments of breathtaking imagery. Who would have thought of The Woodsman as an ant? Don't answer that... "All you think about is yourself," the Princess complains. "Well, no-one else ever thought about me." They will now.

Reviewed on: 19 Jan 2001
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Antz packshot
A neurotic insect tries to win the heart of a princess.
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Director: Eric Darnell, Tim Johnson

Writer: Eric Darnell

Starring: Woody Allen, Sharon Stone, Gene Hackman, Sylvester Stallone, Dan Ackroyd, Anne Bancroft, Danny Glover, Jennifer Lopez, Christopher Walken

Year: 1998

Runtime: 83 minutes

BBFC: PG - Parental Guidance

Country: US


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