Antz is a considerable delight. The quality of animation is excellent. Indeed, one suspects that a good deal of the appeal of making Antz was that computer animation allowed the creation of vistas of thousands of swarming ants, something that would prove a logistical headache by standard hand-drawn animation. The film is filled with breathtaking visions of the entire ant nest and exhilarating rides with ants trapped in the gum on a human shoe. There is a terrifying battle with an army of termites that will probably well give some children nightmares.
A story about ants is fairly much limited to stock themes of a protagonist standing up for individuality and/or the tiny finding their way in a big, wide outside world. Antz offers no particular surprises here; nevertheless, the script comes with a considerable sense of humour and a number of jokes aimed over the kids heads at the adult audience. The mythical Insectopia, for instance, proves to be a giant-size human picnic blanket and a garbage can where rotting food is portrayed in glowing rainbow colours and various insects ride through discarded apples on the back of centipedes and eat dung together in peace.
Antz also offers up a unique voice cast. There almost seems a deliberate attempt to bring in a voice cast that one might not normally associate with animation names like Sylvester Stallone, Sharon Stone, Christopher Walken, Danny Glover and Gene Hackman. However, the greatest casting coup is Woody Allen as Z. Woody Allen does nothing more than his familiar hesitant, nebbish routine but the results are a delight there is a wonderful pure Allen-esque opening scene with him complaining about feeling ignored in a family of five million and only being able to carry ten times his own weight. Allen should have done animation well before now in fact, when one thinks about it, Allens nebbish persona is perfectly suited to the caricature of the nervous child protagonist set against the rest of the world that animation frequently draws upon.
Director Eric Darnell subsequently went onto make DreamWorks Madagascar (2005), Madagascar: Escape 2 Africa (2008), Madagascar 3: Europes Most Wanted (2012) and Penguins of Madagascar (2014), while co-director Tim Johnson went onto make DreamWorks Sinbad: Legend of the Seven Seas (2003), Over the Hedge (2006) and Home (2015). The script was the first professional credit of brothers Paul and Chris Weitz, better known as the duo behind American Pie (1999) and Chris solo of The Golden Compass (2007) and New Moon (2009).
(No. 10 on the SF, Horror & Fantasy Box-Office Top 10 of 1998 list).