A Charming But Largely Formulaic Film
Following the success of Pixar’s animated hit Toy Story, A Bug’s Life can’t quite reach the same illustrious heights its predecessor enjoyed but pushes the boundaries of what can be achieved in animated films with this tiny-sized adventure about an ant colony. Driven forward by an important message around bullying and building on the positive aspects of Pixar’s previous film, A Bug’s Life is a charming tale graced with a decent pace but let down by its simplistic plot line and a cast of characters that don’t quite hold enough charisma to make them household names in Pixar’s history.
In a hierarchical world where ants produce food for grasshoppers, eccentric inventor ant Flik (voiced by Dave Foley) is a big fish in a little pond. Spurred on by some wildly elaborate ideas, his creativity eventually lands him in trouble as the colony is threatened with annihilation at the hands of Hopper (voiced by Kevin Spacey), the leader of the grasshoppers. What follows is a colourful adventure that sees Flik travel from Ant Island to the neighbouring city to try and find some warrior bugs to help him stop Hopper and the other grasshoppers once and for all.
The story plays out with enough colour and imagination to make each step in Flik’s journey memorable and full of amusing, creative scenarios. Whether it be Flik floating along on a dandelion or the initial establishing shot of the bustling insect metropolis made out of cardboard boxes and empty jars and tins, there’s no denying A Bug’s Life has some great ideas at its core. The film certainly has its fair share of colourful characters too but the simplistic plot line and archetypal characters hold this animated flick back from being as good as other Pixar films. If there’s one stand out here though it has to be Hopper who manages to portray a deliciously evil grasshopper with just enough humanity to make him a worthy antagonist for much of the film’s run time.
There’s no denying that A Bug’s Life is a charming film in its own right with a strong thematic core and a well paced story full of imaginative locations and funny jokes. The increased draw distance and number of characters on screen push the boundaries of what can be achieved in these animated films but A Bug’s Life is let down by its formulaic story and archetypal characters. The core group at the heart of this tale is still enjoyable enough to watch but there’s just not enough here to make them a group of characters you’ll fondly remember for years to come. Still, A Bug’s Life is a fun ride while it lasts and worth watching, even if it can’t quite reach the illustrious heights Toy Story and other Pixar titles manage.