A Bug's Life – 10th Anniversary Edition – Blu-Ray Review

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Can you believe that its only been a little over ten years that the Disney/Pixar team has been around? In such a short time frame, audiences have come to expect greatness whenever a new Disney/Pixar film is announced. When Toy Story opened in 1995, it was a technical breakthrough and was universally praised. After such a huge success, how could Disney/Pixar up the ante (pun intended) and avoid the sophomore slump? By releasing an epic tale of miniature proportions called A Bugs Life.

The ant colony on Ant Island, headed by the Queen (voiced by Phyllis Diller, Family Guy Season 6) and Princess Atta (voiced by Julie Louis-Dreyfus, Seinfeld), is trying desperately to collect food for their annual “offering” to the grasshoppers. The grasshoppers, lead by Hopper (voice: Kevin Spacey, Se7en), have made a deal with the ants. If the ants give them enough food to last through the winter, then the grasshoppers will let the ants live.

Headstrong ant Flik (voice of Dave Foley, Kids In the Hall) has invented a machine to harvest grain faster and gets nothing but eye rolls when he tried to introduce his new invention to the colony. As the grasshoppers arrive, the ants are scrambling to get into the anthill and Flik is the last one to leave his harvest on the offering stone. His invention snaps causing a chain reaction and the entire offering to the grasshoppers falls over a ledge and into the water below.

The grasshoppers give the ants one more chance, and in hopes of getting rid of Flik, Princess Atta sends him away to find warrior bugs that will help fight the grasshoppers. Flik mistakes some circus bugs for the warrior bugs and brings them back to the colony. When the Flik and the colony find out that these bugs are not what they thought they were, everyone works together to bring down the grasshoppers and save the colony.

Instead of some of the recent Disney/Pixar films like Up and WALL*E that are appreciated just as much (if not more) by the adults, A Bugs Life is more kiddie-minded. It has some really universal messages such as the “little guys can do big things too”, as well as the “if we all work together, we can accomplish anything”, and the “dont judge a book by its cover” morals. Its all been said and done before, but A Bugs Life puts the typical Pixar spin on everything and adds just the right amount of humor so the adults arent groaning in their seats.

The voice acting is everything weve come to expect from Disney/Pixar, however, what I love about the voice cast is the unexpected. Like casting storyboarder/animator/storyteller/Pixar employee Joe Ranft as Heimlich the overweight caterpillar. And yes, that is a little Hayden Panettiere (Heroes, I Love You Beth Cooper) playing Princess Dot. For about two seconds, youll wonder who that voice is behind the Queen, that is, until you hear that famous Phyllis Diller laugh. The choices are inspired.

A Bugs Life is a sweet film filled with humor, some unexpected twists, and good old fashioned family fun. Whether you havent seen this film since it was released over ten years ago, or youve somehow missed out on it in favor of some of the more recent Pixar outings, this anniversary blu-ray of A Bugs Life is worth the time and worth every penny.

Presented in a glorious 2.35:1 aspect ratio with crystal clear Dolby Digital HD surround sound, A Bug’s Life was made to be shown on Blu-ray. This is a stellar looking film.

Commentary by John Lasseter and Andrew Stanton.

Geri’s Game – The Academy Award winning short film that played before A Bug’s Life in it’s theatrical run. This is one of my favorite Pixar shorts and this Blu-ray transfer is stunning. 4:54

Filmmaker’s Roundtable with Darla K. Anderson, Andrew Stanton, John Lasseter, Kevin Reher – This lively discussion with the people behind the film includes their original presentation of the idea of the film to Disney, shows clips of the actors recording the voices (along with some of little Hayden). They also discuss how A Bug’s Life has become forgotten among the Pixar films, and in order to keep the spirit alive, Pixar throws an annual Bug’s Life Appreciation Party where they read the entire script and act out the movie. Can I work at Pixar? 20:58

A Bug’s Life – The First Draft – With Optional Intro by John Lasseter & Andrew Stanton – This is the storyboarded original version of the story, narrated by Dave Foley. It’s the same basic concept, but told from the perspective of Red, a circus ant, instead of Flik. 10:51

The Grasshopper and the Ants – A Walt Disney Silly Symphony – With Optional Intro by John Lasseter & Andrew Stanton – A short Disney cartoon about a grasshopper who wants to sing and dance instead of gather food for the winter. In the intro, Lasseter says this is where they got their basic idea. And Andrew Stanton sings the grasshopper’s song. 8:28

(Every one of these has Optional Intro by John Lasseter & Andrew Stanton, so I won’t be saying this anymore. Instead, I’ll let you know when there isn’t an intro.)

    Pre-Production:

Fleabie Reel – Funny promo video made by Lasseter to show to Disney with silly Godzilla like voiceovers. 4:24

Story & Editorial – Uses storyboards to show the process of storyboards. Cute. 5:40

Storyboard to Film Comparison – This shows the scene where the circus bugs rescue Dot from the bird, first with storyboards, then the movie, then shows both using a split screen. 1:46

Abandoned Sequences – Two deleted scenes, one showing PT Flea’s office, and the other showing an alternate opening. 3:23

Research Documentary – This featurette shows some of the footage that the filmmakers watched to get inspiration for the characters in the film, and shows one particular beetle found wandering the sidewalks in front of Pixar Studios who became the inspiration for Dim. 5:24

    Design:

Galleries – Character Galleries, Location Galleries, Concept Art – There are literally pages and pages of each character, each location, each scene. This is very in depth.

    Production:

Behind the Scenes of A Bug’s Life – Production Feature Documentary from the original DVD release. 3:30

Voice Casting – This featurette is also from the DVD release, and shows the various actors. 4:15

Early Tests – This shows some of the programs that Pixar created to create the wind and the crowds. Also shows character tests. 5:25

Progressive Demonstration – This really cool feature shows the “Flaming Death” scene in 4 different stages of production. Each stage can be selected through the menu, and features an introduction by guys in that particular department. You can also press the “Angle” button on your remote to switch back and forth between stages.

    Sound Design:

This is just comprised of one featurette that shows all of the different sounds they used for different things in the movie. They had some very creative ideas! 13:11

    Release:

Theatrical Release – Shows the posters and includes both theatrical trailers.

International Release – This has a really cheesy interview sequence with the characters, as if they were being interviewed for a news show. Pretty bad. 2:07

Outtakes – Both sets of outtakes that showed during the credits of the film.

A Bug’s Life really was made to be on Blu-ray. This is the best way to watch this movie, or any Pixar movie for that matter. They include so much information without anything ever getting boring. My only complaint about this release would be the menu. The menu screen is a picture of Ant Island, with the menu itself against the light blue sky. The menu wording is white and is nearly impossible to read against the light blue. I found myself squinting several times. And then, after I’d watch a feature and it would roll back to the menu, the words had disappeared. A quick press of the back arrow key and the menu would reappear, but this got a little annoying. I’m hoping this was just a fluke for my particular BD. Who knows. This really is a minor complaint considering that I was able to navigate through everything and watch everything, and be entertained by everything. A Bug’s Life is a film that deserves to be revisited, especially with this exceptional Blu-Ray release.

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Walt Disney Studios Home Entertainment presents A Bug’s Life. Directed by: Andrew Stanton, John Lasseter. Starring: Dave Foley, Kevin Spacey, Julie Louis-Dreyfus, Phyllis Diller. Written by: John Lasseter, Andrew Stanton. Running time: 95 minutes. Rating: G. Released on DVD: May 19, 2009. Available at Amazon.com

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