Directors: Andrew Stanton, John Lasseter
Cast: Dave Foley, Kevin Spacey
Watch A Bug’s Life online in the UK: Netflix UK / Prime Video (Buy/Rent) / iTunes / Rakuten TV / Google Play
When Pixar brought out Toy Story, it changed the face of animated films. The computer-generated images were a far cry from the hand-drawn classics that Disney had done so well to produce: it was a vision for the future. It also used a storyline that opened up the hearts of even the hardiest cinema-viewer – who hasn’t wished their toys would come to life?
Fast forward around three years and Pixar had to follow up an instant classic and they provided us with a bug’s life (all lower case, because bugs are tiny). The film takes us into the undergrowth as Flik (voiced by Dave Foley), a young under-appreciated inventor, keeps trying to come up with new inventions. It’s only when his latest destroys the food they’ve harvested for their oppressive grasshoppers – led by Hopper (Kevin Spacey) – that the ant colony turns on him and sends him away under the pretence that they need him to find warrior bugs.
Everything that Pixar has done since Toy Story has continued to improve their animation, their textures and their general skill in graphics. Directed by John Lasseter and Andrew Stanton, a bug’s life is no exception, but it could be described as the forgotten Pixar film, due to rarely being spoken of in the same breath as their later, bigger titles, such as Wall-E and Monsters Inc.. Nonetheless, this remains a well-made, enjoyable kids film with humour and heart in equal measure. It’s exciting to fly between cracks in a rocky desert, or see gigantic rain drops hammer down and turn a tin-can into a bar scene – or any tiny thing looking really big.
The movie came out around the same time as Dreamworks’ Antz but this surpasses that by far, as Pixar always has done when it comes to animation. There aren’t many studios that consistent or fresh – a bug’s life demonstrates that even going back to the 1990s, they’ve always been this way, whether you’re viewing this for your own nostalgia or discovering it afresh.