The Ant Bully (2006)

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Released 16-Jan-2007

Cover Art

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Details At A Glance

General Extras
Category Animation Main Menu Audio & Animation
Featurette-Making Of-It Takes a Colony
Short Film-7 animated shorts
Screen Saver-Ant Habitat
Deleted Scenes
Theatrical Trailer
Web Links
Rating Rated G
Year Of Production 2006
Running Time 85:23
RSDL / Flipper RSDL (46:57) Cast & Crew
Start Up Language Select Then Menu
Region Coding 4 Directed By John A. Davis
Studio
Distributor
Legendary Pictures
Warner Home Video
Starring Julia Roberts
Nicolas Cage
Meryl Streep
Paul Giamatti
Zach Tyler
Regina King
Bruce Campbell
Case Amaray-Opaque
RPI $32.95 Music John Debney


Video Audio
Pan & Scan/Full Frame None English Dolby Digital 5.1 (384Kb/s)
Hebrew Dolby Digital 5.1 (384Kb/s)
Icelandic Dolby Digital 5.1 (384Kb/s)
Widescreen Aspect Ratio 1.78:1
16x9 Enhancement
16x9 Enhanced
Video Format 576i (PAL)
Original Aspect Ratio 1.85:1 Miscellaneous
Jacket Pictures No
Subtitles English
Hebrew
Icelandic
English for the Hearing Impaired
Smoking Yes
Annoying Product Placement Yes, jelly beans anyone?
Action In or After Credits Yes

NOTE: The Profanity Filter is ON. Turn it off here.

Plot Synopsis

    Animated children's films are flooding the marketplace these days due to the success of films like Cars, Toy Story, Shrek, Ice Age and many more. Just lately there have been quite a few which could only be described as mediocre or worse such as Hoodwinked, Arthur and the Invisibles, The Wild and this film. This one came about due to Tom Hanks reading a children's picture book to his kids and thinking it would make a good movie. Accordingly, he rang John Davis, director of Jimmy Neutron, who readily agreed to work on the film. This film certainly has an interesting premise, a quality voice cast and technically excellent animation. Unfortunately, it doesn't have much in the way of heart and soul. Additionally, the darkness of some parts of the story would be a bit much for the core pre-schooler/infant school audience. Another weakness for the younger kids is that the humour is quite restrained, highlighting the drama.

    The plot is based upon the aforementioned children's book of the same name and involves a young boy, Lucas, who is constantly being picked-on and bullied by a gang of kids. As he is not strong enough to fight back, he takes his frustrations out on an ant's nest in his front yard. He turns the hose on them, kicks the nest apart and uses the 'dreaded yellow rain'. Zok (Nicolas Cage), an ant magician, determines to take revenge by developing a potion which will shrink Lucas down to the size of an ant. Once Zok succeeds, Lucas must learn to become one of the ant colony with all the associated responsibilities such as teamwork, protecting the colony and doing your job. As Lucas adapts he makes friends with some of the ants including Zok's girlfriend, Hova (Julia Roberts), and a wacky scout ant, Fugax (Bruce Campbell ). He must prove himself to Zok and the colony if he wants to return to his world.

    Positives in this movie include the wonderfully realised world of the ants, especially their perspective on human beings, and the fact that for once 'the message' is underplayed in an American children's film. Also the wonderful score by John Debney which was Annie nominated. On the other hand the characters are generally unappealing except Fugax who absolutely steals the show. There is also some dodgy ant spirituality which makes you wonder whether they have been reading some of the stuff Tom Cruise has been getting into.

    Generally, I would suggest parents look elsewhere for animated pleasures for their little ones but it might appeal to primary school age children.

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Transfer Quality

Video

    The video quality is excellent.

    The feature is presented in a 1.78:1 aspect ratio, 16x9 enhanced, which is the original aspect ratio. The case wrongly lists the aspect ratio as 2.35:1.

    The picture was extremely sharp and clear with excellent detail in the world of the ants. There was no evidence of low level noise.

    The colour was stunning as befits an animated feature in these times.

    There were no noticeable artefacts.

    There are subtitles in English, English for the hearing impaired, Icelandic & Hebrew. They are clear and easy to read.

    The layer change occurs at  46:57 and was not visible during playback.
    

Video Ratings Summary
Sharpness
Shadow Detail
Colour
Grain/Pixelization
Film-To-Video Artefacts
Film Artefacts
Overall

Audio

    The audio quality is very good bordering on excellent.

    This DVD contains an English Dolby Digital 5.1 soundtrack encoded at 384 Kb/s and the same in Icelandic & Hebrew.

    Dialogue was clear and easy to understand and there was no problem with audio sync.

    The score of this movie by John Debney is very good, adding drama and appropriate lightness as required.

    The surround speakers were very well used adding insect noise, directional dialogue and an wonderful level of immersion.

    The subwoofer was also well used simulating the ground shaking as humans came near the nest and also the crash landings of larger insects.

Audio Ratings Summary
Dialogue
Audio Sync
Clicks/Pops/Dropouts
Surround Channel Use
Subwoofer
Overall

Extras

   

    A decent selection of extras are included however none of them could be described as earth-shattering. The case is incorrect in saying that the disc contains 10 different shorts as there are only 7 available from the menu. There is also a typo in the naming of one extra (see below).

Menu

    The menu included motion and music and is generally very well designed.

Featurette- It Takes a Colony (16:35)

    A short making of featurette, hosted by one of the characters from the movie and focusing on an interview with the Director. The big name voice stars are noticeable by the absence either in behind the scenes footage or interviews. The Director discusses the development of the project, Tom Hanks' involvement, voice casting, storyboarding and the animation team. Not bad. Presented non-16x9 enhanced.

Animated Shorts

    This sub-menu includes seven promotional shorts which would have been used to promote the film. They are not included in the film itself but are generally funnier and more engaging than anything in the film. Presented non-16x9 enhanced. They are:

  1. Hot Enough For You? (1:12) - Two ants guarding at the entrance to the nest.
  2. World Wild Web (1:17) - Bugs caught in a spider's web.
  3. Please Help (1:07) - Appeal to help ants caught in kid's ant colonies.
  4. Monster Truck (0:47) - Fugax drives a truck.
  5. Turn it down a Notch (1:17) - Two ants decide they have had enough of Lucas' sister's music.
  6. Arrival (1:18) - Lucas and his parents initially arriving at their house.
  7. Pea Brains (1:21) - Fugax having trouble with foraging lessons.

Ant Habitat (1:19)

    This is a TV screen saver which repeats endlessly, showing ants in a children's toy colony. Miss-spelt on the slick and presented non-16x9 enhanced.

Additional Scenes (11:24)

    Most of these scenes do not have completed animation and others are only storyboards. The first one is the best about new baby ants being born and categorised. One scene which better introduced the exterminator should have been kept in as it would have helped his approach to Lucas make sense. Presented non-16x9 enhanced.

Theatrical Trailer (1:18)

    An amusing trailer featuring various insects auditioning to be ants.

Weblink

R4 vs R1

NOTE: To view non-R4 releases, your equipment needs to be multi-zone compatible and usually also NTSC compatible.

     This movie is released in the same format in Region 1, although there are Blu-Ray & HD DVD versions available in the US.

Summary

    A mediocre animated children's movie which deservedly missed out on major success, taking only US$55 million in worldwide box office.

    The video quality is excellent.

    The audio quality is very good.

    Decent set of extras.

Ratings (out of 5)

Video
Audio
Extras
Plot
Overall

© Daniel Bruce (Do you need a bio break?)
Monday, February 12, 2007
Review Equipment
DVDPioneer DV667A DVD-V DVD-A SACD, using Component output
DisplaySony FD Trinitron Wega KV-AR34M36 80cm. Calibrated with Digital Video Essentials (PAL). This display device is 16x9 capable. This display device has a maximum native resolution of 576i (PAL)/480i (NTSC).
Audio DecoderBuilt in to amplifier/receiver. Calibrated with Video Essentials.
AmplificationPioneer VSX-511
SpeakersMonitor Audio Bronze 2 (Front), Bronze Centre & Bronze FX (Rears) + Yamaha YST SW90 subwoofer

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