Thursday, May 21, 2009

Toon Talk: Good Flik

A few months late of its 10th anniversary, Disney/Pixar’s A Bug’s Life makes its high def home video debut this week with the release of a Blu-ray editionthat will reintroduce you to the wonderful world of Flik and Company.

Coming on the groundbreaking heels of Toy Story, the world’s first fully-computer animated feature film, A Bug’s Life had a lot to live up to … not to mention prove. As director John Lasseter mentions in the “Filmmakers Roundtable” feature (one of two brand new bonuses on the Blu-ray), a dreaded “sophomore slump” was definitely feared by all involved in Pixar’s second movie. Not only did Bugs (as it was first titled) have to stand up next to its critically adored, blockbuster hit predecessor, it also leapt ahead in terms of technology, tackling as it did such new to the medium aspects as widescreen, crowd scenes and a wholly organic cast of characters and settings.

Re-watching A Bug’s Life in high definition, it is easy to say that all challenges, both technically and artistically, were met with flying colors … literally, as the beautiful blues and lush greens of the film’s color palette pop like never before. Heretofore unnoticed nuances in the character designs are also readily apparent, such as the contours of the various bug faces; for example, I never before realized that Princess Atta had a beauty mark (as all good princesses should).

Also while watching A Bug’s Life again after all these years, I was struck by how well done the story is. Sure, there are the welcome morals of standing up for what is right and being true to yourself, but there are also some surprisingly mature themes hidden among the laughs (of which there are plenty that still hold up today, unlike the dated pop culture references of say, DreamWorks’ Antz). The main conflict between the humble ant colony and the exploitative grasshopper gang has certain political and racial connotations upon closer inspection; one could even liken it to apartheid, with a minority oppressing the majority. Naturally, whether or not such “deep messages” were intended or not by the filmmakers of what is basically a family-friendly enterprise is up to interpretation, but it certainly makes for a compelling analysis of a film that still, like its protagonist, is more than meets the eye.

Click here to continue reading my Toon Talk review of the new Bug's Life Blu-ray at LaughingPlace.com.

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