SUPER 8 FILM REVIEW
A BUG’S LIFE 4x600ft 93mins colour stereo sound Available from Derann
An adventure following the courageous Flik, an ant who is sent from his colony on a seemingly hopeless mission to find bigger, mercenary bugs prepared to assist in the defense of his compatriots from the violent oppression of Hopper, the devilish grasshopper and his cohorts.
1999’s Pixar offering which first brought us ‘Toy Story’ is here on Super 8 resplendent in its scope frame. A box office success for which, I have to admit, I did not see. When it comes to modern feature cartoons I require a lot of enthusiasm to take a trip down to Leicester Square (albeit only a 15 minute walk) to part with £10 for something I generally find a bit tedious and predictable; it’s not necessarily the cartoons themselves I don’t care for, it’s all the songs which are generally thrown in for no good reason other than for the studio concerned to be able to sell some CD’s. So it was with a little trepidation that I threaded up reel 1 of ‘A Bug’s Life’. What a relief, not only is there no pointless singing but by the middle of the film I had completely forgotten about this concern. Only after the film had finished did I realize there were no songs included at all. Indeed, the film itself is so involving and the humour so mature that I would estimate this is more likely to be enjoyed by adults than by children.
Back to the story. The film opens as we join an ant colony harvesting their annual crops, not only for the winter storage but also as ‘protection payment’ to Hopper and his dastardly grasshopper gang. An ingenious ant named ‘Flik’ has taken the unprecedented step of inventing a crop picking machine which he is trying and is making short work of the job in hand. The other ants fail to see the benefits of such a contraption and consider Flik to be shirking his duties by not working with the rest of the colony. He is not popular. By the time the grasshoppers arrive Flik has accidentally destroyed the harvest. A furious Hopper gives them a hopeless two weeks to replace the food.
Flik has the idea of recruiting bigger bugs to help them defend themselves against Hopper’s threats and thus, much to the delight of his fellow ants, Flik is dispatched on his supposedly hopeless mission to employ the services of some warrior bugs. Never expected to return he causes surprise when he arrives back with a gang of ruthless looking bugs. Unfortunately there has been a mix-up and these bugs are not warriors at all, they are a circus act and were under the misapprehension they were being hired to put on a show.
The remainder of the plot is fairly predictable but the execution is first class and the characters are all clearly defined. Hopper steals the show but there is plenty for everyone with some good comedy to boot!
One criticism of this 8mm release is that the review copy did not come with “both sets of hilarious out-takes” as stated on the box. Neither were present as they are on the DVD so this may be worth checking prior to making a purchase (not that it should affect that purchase in any case). Perhaps they had just been omitted from this copy in error. Please note however that one set accompanies the end credits in a miniaturized form, albeit the different set to that which accompanies the end credits on the DVD. This is a shame as I ran the film several times, the last time being in sync’ the Dolby Digital tracks of the DVD - and I can report that this is just about the most perfect example of sync’ pulse I have yet seen. I can’t remember having to adjust the film once after each reel had started, except that is until the end credits produce the wrong out-takes, at which point the amplifier has to be switched to the stereo tracks of the projector. If this is your fancy however, it may be worth trying to sync’ to the 4:3 copy of the DVD as it may be that this has the correct end titles, something I did not think to look at.
The print is very good, not the best we have seen in recent years but still far superior entertainment to that supplied on any other medium. The picture is sharp and the colour good. The sound was a little dull compared to the Dolby Digital tracks of the DVD (no surprise there really) but still provides a good stereo effect and satisfactory accompaniment to the scope frame. A new full feature release from and one well worth having in your collection. Don’t miss it!
Print A Sound A-/B John Clancy