003666Reviews & Counting
A Bug's Life
BLU-RAY disk
05.29.2009 By: J.A. Hamilton
A Bug's Life order
John Lassetter, Andrew Stanton

Dave Foley
Kevin Spacey
Julia Louis-Dreyfus


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When an ant’s mischievous good intentions endanger the colony, the Queen and her council send him on a fool’s errand, only to have him return with an unlikely group of bugs and a plan that could change their way of life forever.
I really have to hand it to Disney, as nine times out of ten their movies are fantastic, and a true joy for audiences of all ages. A BUG’S LIFE is no exception. Directors/writers John Lassetter and Andrew Stanton took a simple idea like an ant colony gathering food, and turned it into a wonderfully fun adventure that had me laughing my ass off (the dialogue in these films never ceases to amaze me). The jokes are cutesy and mild, but witty and down right hilarious at the same time. It’s a simple process (and one that clearly works), keep the kids happy with animated characters, and the adults entertained with smart writing and vast storylines. Works for me.

The ensemble of voice talent was nothing short of spectacular, all of whom, did an exceptional job. As for the characters, sure I liked Flik (every story needs an underdog) voiced by KIDS IN THE HALL’s Dave Foley, but I’m also a “root for the villain” kinda guy and couldn’t help but love Hopper (voiced by Kevin Spacey). Pixar’s animation is top notch (despite being ten years old here), and this re-invention on Blu ray is like something out of a dream. The details of this miniature world are limitless, interesting and put to clever use making even the most mundane stuff like landscapes, loads of fun.

When it comes to movies like this one, it’s the little things that win me over. There were character attributes like the grasshopper’s walk and caterpillar’s glossy coat, the bug city, pretty much everything those little twin guys did, not to mention how they took something as harmless and beautiful as a bird and turned it into a dangerous predator. This film is chalked full of memorable moments that not only increase the replay value, but no doubt made this tale into an instant classic. The score was happy go lucky, and I was happy to NOT see this flick branch off into random song like so many other Disney films tend to do.

A BUG’S LIFE was a delightful bit of fun from start to finish. I really enjoyed the climax and found Hopper’s demise quite fitting. And the ongoing rock joke added an extra wide smile to an already happy ending. Disney and Pixar are a winning combo and continue to make hit after hit, something I expect to see go on with this summer’s UP. Still not convinced? Well there’s nothing small about this new Blu ray edition’s HOURS of extras that will have you laughing your way into stitches. And speaking of laughing, I couldn’t help but laugh when I noticed this Blu ray contained a free pass to UP, only to find out the joke was on me when I then noticed it was only valid in the US (I’m in Canada). Ain’t that a “B”.
Geri’s Game: A five minute short film about an old man playing chess in the park against himself. Can you guess who wins?

Filmmaker’s Roundtable: The production team reminisce about the making of A BUG’S LIFE. They were under tremendous pressure after TOY STORY to not be one hit wonders. I think this film was just as good.

A Bug’s Life-The First Draft: Here’s a look at the (almost completely different) original story narrated by Dave Foley. I sure am glad they decided to elaborate and change things up.

A Walt Disney Silly Symphony: Grasshopper And The Ants: An old school cartoon the directors added to the Blu ray release. And when I say old school, I do mean OLD.

Director Audio Commentary: Directors John Lassetter and Andrew Stanton touch on the many trials involved in shooting an animated feature. Of all the characters, the millipedes were the hardest to create, hence (they joke) they’re not in the film very long.

Pre-Production Fleabie reel: A comical look at a status update they did for Disney during production. Not much here, mostly just rough set and character designs.

Story and Editorial: Here they show us a breakdown of a story board scene. I’ll say this, it looks like a grueling process.

Story Boards-to-Film Comparisons: They compare similarities between a story board scene and the final product. In this case, their almost dead on.

Abandoned Sequences: The boys show us a couple scenes that were cut from the film. I can see why they didn’t keep them, but LIVE NUDE WORM WRESTING is hilarious!

Research Documentary: The production team show us a bit of the field research they did for the movie. Cartoon bugs = cute. Real bugs = not so much.

Design: A look at the three galleries containing all the designs and concept art for EVERYTHING in the film. There’s enough here to keep you busy for quite awhile.

Production Behind the Scenes of A Bug’s Life: A quick look into the thought process behind the film. They wanted to try something new and ambitious here, and I think it paid off rather nicely.

Voice Casting: Here we get some opinions from the voice cast. Kevin Spacey makes a great villain, whether it be live or animated.

Early Tests: A crash course on the environmental photography elements used in the film. They went out of their way (with the wind especially) to ensure the world looked and felt alive.

Progression Demonstrations Story Reel: Here we see the various stages of creating a scene. This is pretty much the bare outline (and is also interactive with your remote, you can change the angles).

Layout: The same scene is now entered into the computer, adding the camera and characters.

Animation: This next step is to add motion to the scene, bringing the concept to life.

Shading and Lighting: This final stage adds the proper shading and lighting, enhancing the three dimensional effects. This entire process gives me a newfound respect for this amazing process.

Sound Design: They give us a demonstration of the sound design for a scene involving several different types of “wing flapping”, and talk about how they match them to each character. I didn’t know there were so many different types of wing sounds.

Release: Here we have the posters and ad campaigns, along with the film’s teaser and trailer. I’d never seen the teaser before, it was pretty funny.

Character Interviews: An interview with four of the animated cast members. It may be short, but it’ll make you laugh.

Outtakes: There’s the story behind the outtakes, the original outtakes, and the alternate outtakes. The production team and cast had a blast with these, and all have their favorites. They’re all good, but I’m pretty partial to the “Do I look stupid” bit.

Trailers: There’s six trailers, a Disney rewards ad and a Blu ray commercial. There is also a Disney Live option for those of you who can hook up to the internet. And last but not least, there’s also a digital copy of the film.
I’m a pretty big fan of all things Disney, and A BUG’S LIFE proves great stories come in all shapes and sizes. Again, these newer (more mature) visions can be enjoyed by audiences of all ages, and THAT is the key to making these flicks the magical adventures they truely are.
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