Actually, the release date for The Ant Bully had been moved up to July 28th from the original August release, long after I'd already set my Yahoo Calendar for a reminder to go see it that weekend. So, I saw it this weekend.
I actually liked it better the second time. :) Next weekend I'm gonna go see it IMAX style.
The story was nicely adapted for the screen in some rather unexpected yet interesting ways that weren't in the original children's book by John Nickles. This time, however, I didn't get all teary-eyed during the "Here we come to save the day!" battle scene near the end. I can be such a sap for heroes. Reviews that I've read mentioning an almost communistic manifesto in this movie shouldn't be all that surprising. Several fictional books about ants have explored that same line - the fictional struggle of an ant society is something that adults can immediately relate to with their own human experiences. Do a bit of research and you'll see some of the same "communist" themes of equality and teamwork in the ever popular Star Trek, too. ;)
And...it was a major improvement over the previous DNA feature film, "Jimmy Neutron, Boy Genius", which I admit I didn't like. D'oh! Didn't like the look, the story or the characters. The JN tv series, for the most part, was sooo much better than the film of Neutron that I saw back then in theaters. But, then I really wasn't the target market for it, not being under 10 years old and not a parent bringing her children with her. I don't have any kids.
Anyhoo...I liked the AB movie and most of the audience, parents and kids, etc., seemed to like it, too. I give it a B+! Cool to see the scenes that I'd gotten a brief mention about here and there during production from people that I knew at DNA. I bet Ant Bully does really well on DVD...if Warner Brothers ever decides to finally do some marketing for the movie. The odd tv commercial here and there isn't helpful...and looks really bad if you compare it to the marketing efforts done for "Happy Feet", also being distributed by Warner Brothers, as well as the other animation projects this year by other studios and their distributors. Anyone recall "Hoodwinked" and how much repeat tv advertising that one had? How about all the voice talent spouting about "Open Season" in the last week, in theaters and on tv?
Only a few minor things to quibble about with The Ant Bully (and it's only because I've seen the movie twice...and was looking for the stuff):
- The ant animation wasn't consistent as far as how they got around on four legs. Occassionally they'd also float about a bit, rather like marionettes, or move like camels rather than the usual four-legged movement that seemed to be the standard. Kind of funny in its own way, but inconsistent to most of the other scenes.
- Continuity. The firecracker size fluctuated from the original introduction to the fight scene with Lucas and the wasp. Lucas's "glasses" were on when he jumped over the fan - yet the next shot, the glasses were back up. Since his hands were rather occupied with holding tightly to the flower petal, how did they move back up on his head...and why? Thought he couldn't see much otherwise or why make them?
- The lighting. At random times the ant eyes glowed oddly, mouth interiors were lit up, shadows were strange, blah, blah, blah. I did like the atmosphere that was created when Lucas was with the ants in the ant hill. And the night scenes were really nice. For some reason, just didn't get that same feeling of appreciation during the day scenes.
- The wasps. Why didn't they keep with the original dark, almost black coloration that I saw in the character designs? It would have been nice to see a more subtle patterning and could have made the characters more believable...and threatening. Just my opinion. :D
- Lucas and the Wizard. I totally didn't believe in the friendship that occurred at the end between Lucas and the Wizard (Cage). And this is where, particularly the first time I saw the movie, the end third of the movie just didn't connect for me like the first half of the movie. The characters weren't true to themselves even if the point of the story was to become more than what they were. But, hey, it's not my story or character development.
- The end design of the Exterminator. It just didn't look funny when he was unevenly shrunk, but was rather disturbing. One of the little kids sitting next to me got scared even, although everyone was laughing when he got stung. Twice. Well, bitten then stung.
I'd previously gotten to see The Ant Bully at the DNA Crew Premiere Party a few weeks ago because of an invitation from a friend who was both a texture and IMAX artist on the film. She also happened to be a classmate and my former VP for the school's student animation group that we'd both helped get started. In fact, several of my AID classmates had gotten the opportunity to work at DNA Productions on The Ant Bully in various departments - animation, lighting, texturing, etc. They all received some awesome animation industry experiences, both good and the "could have been better" (well, that's crunch time for ya), and seriously learned alot - I was really happy to see all their hard work in theaters at last.
I was both very sad and disappointed not to have had the same opportunity, of course. Who wouldn't have been? Didn't even get in as janitor. sigh. Now that the studio has pretty much disbanded, it's cool to hear that so many of them are finding excellent opportunities to grow even more at other studios. Good luck to them all!