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Antz
Antz-Poster.jpg
Theatrical release poster
Directed by
  • Eric Darnell
  • Tim Johnson
Produced by
  • Brad Lewis
  • Aron Warner
  • Patty Wooton
Screenplay by
  • Todd Alcott
  • Chris Weitz
  • Paul Weitz
Starring
Music by
Editing by Stan Webb
Studio
Distributed by DreamWorks Pictures
Release date(s) September 19, 1998 (1998-09-19) (TIFF)
October 2, 1998 (1998-10-02) (United States)
Running time 83 minutes
Country United States
Language English
Budget $42–105 million
Money made $171.8 million

Antz is a 1998 American computer-animated adventure comedy film directed by Eric Darnell and Tim Johnson (in their feature directorial debuts) from a screenplay by Todd Alcott, Chris Weitz, and Paul Weitz. The film features the voices of Woody Allen, Sharon Stone, Jennifer Lopez, Sylvester Stallone, Christopher Walken, Dan Aykroyd, Anne Bancroft, Danny Glover and Gene Hackman. Some of the main characters share facial similarities with the actors who voice them. Antz was the first film from DreamWorks Animation, and the second feature-length computer-animated film after Disney and Pixar's Toy Story (1995).

During its production, a public feud erupted between DreamWorks co-founder Jeffrey Katzenberg and Steve Jobs and John Lasseter of Pixar, due to the production of their similar film A Bug's Life, which was released a month later. This only worsened when Disney refused to avoid competition with DreamWorks' intended first animated release, The Prince of Egypt (1998).

Antz premiered on September 19, 1998, at the Toronto International Film Festival, and was released theatrically in the United States on October 2, 1998, by DreamWorks Pictures. It grossed $171.8 million worldwide on a budget of $42–105 million. The film received positive reviews, with critics praising the voice cast, animation, humor, and its appeal towards adults.

Plot

Z Marion-4195, or "Z" for short, is a neurotic and pessimistic worker ant who longs to express himself. While at a bar one night, Z falls in love with the ant colony's princess, Bala, when she visits the bar to escape her suffocating royal life.

The ant colony declares war on an encroaching termite colony and a large force of soldier ants is mobilized for an attack. To see Bala again, Z exchanges places with his soldier friend Weaver and joins the army, where he befriends staff sergeant Barbatus. Z is unaware that the army's leader and Bala's fiancé General Mandible is secretly sending the soldiers loyal to the Queen Ant to die so he can stage a coup d'état. At the base of a tree near nightfall, Z realizes he is marching into battle. Everyone except Z is killed by acid-shooting termite defenders. Before dying, Barbatus tells Z to think for himself instead of following orders. Meanwhile, while filling in for Z, Weaver meets and falls in love with Z's co-worker and friend Azteca.

Z returns home and is hailed as a war hero (despite not doing anything and left traumatized). Secretly irate, Mandible congratulates him and introduces him to the Queen. There he meets Bala, who eventually recognizes him as a worker. Z panics and pretends to take Bala hostage, causing him and Bala to fall out of the anthill via a garbage chute. Z decides to search for Insectopia, a legendary insect paradise. Bala attempts to return to the colony, but quickly rejoins Z after encountering a praying mantis.

News of the incident spreads through the colony and Z's act of individuality inspires the workers and some soldier ants, halting productivity. To gain control, Mandible publicly portrays Z as a self-centered war criminal, promotes the glory of conformity, and promises them a better life through the reward of completing a "Mega Tunnel" planned by himself. However, Mandible's second-in-command Colonel Cutter becomes concerned about Mandible's plans.

Z and Bala come upon a human picnic laid out on a cloth, which they take for Insectopia, but they are baffled by the wrappings on the food. A married couple of liberal wasps, named Chip and Muffy, befriend them, though with much condescension, and they all start to break into the food; but they are disrupted by being trampled by giant sneakers and swatted with a fly swatter. Z rescues Bala from the sneaker treads, but Muffy is killed by the swatter, leaving Chip heartbroken. He encourages the ants to move on.

They at last find Insectopia, a human waste bin overfilled with decaying food, where Bala begins to reciprocate Z's feelings. After interrogating Weaver, Mandible learns that Z is looking for Insectopia and sends Cutter to retrieve Bala and kill Z. That night, Cutter arrives in Insectopia and forcibly flies Bala back to the colony. Z finds them gone; seeing his desperation, a grieving Chip generously flies him back to the colony.

When Z arrives, he encounters soldiers who forcibly direct him toward the Mega Tunnel. Along the way, he finds Bala held captive in Mandible's office. After he frees her, they both discover that Mandible's "Mega Tunnel" leads straight to the puddle next to Insectopia which Mandible will use to drown the Queen Ant and workers at the opening ceremony. Bala warns the ants at the ceremony, while Z goes to the tunnel exit to stop the workers but fails, and the water leaks in. Z and Bala unify the workers into building a towering ladder of themselves towards the surface as the water rises.

Meanwhile, Mandible and his soldiers gather at the surface, where he explains his vision of a new colony with none of the "weak elements". When the workers break through, Mandible tries to kill Z, but Cutter rebels against Mandible and instead helps Z and the worker ants. Enraged, Mandible tries to lunge at Cutter, but Z pushes Cutter out of the way to save him and is accidentally tackled into the flooded colony with Mandible, who lands upon a root, dying on impact. Cutter orders the soldiers to help the workers and the Queen Ant up to the surface while he himself goes after Z. Although Z has seemingly drowned, Bala resuscitates him.

Z is praised for his heroism and marries Bala and Weaver marries Azteca. Together they rebuild the colony, transforming it from a military state into a community that values all of its members. As Z narrates how he now feels content about his place in the world, the camera zooms out to reveal that the whole story took place in a small part of Central Park in New York City.

Cast

  • Woody Allen as Z Marion-4195 "Z", an idealistic but anxious worker ant.
  • Gene Hackman as General Mandible, the mean-spirited and arrogant general officer of the ant military. He is also the fiancée of Princess Bala.
  • Sharon Stone as Princess Bala, the Queen Ant's daughter, Mandible's fiancée, and Z's love interest.
  • Sylvester Stallone as Corporal Weaver, a brave soldier ant and Z's best friend who becomes Azteca's boyfriend.
  • Jennifer Lopez as Azteca, another friend of Z's and a worker ant who becomes Weaver's girlfriend.
  • Christopher Walken as Colonel Cutter, a flying ant that serves as Mandible's patient and empathetic adviser who becomes disillusioned by the general's actions.
  • Danny Glover as Staff Sergeant Barbatus, a soldier ant who befriends Z during the fight against the termites.
  • Anne Bancroft as Queen Ant, Princess Bala's mother and the ruler of the ants.
  • Dan Aykroyd as Chip the Wasp, a wasp whom Z befriends.
  • Grant Shaud as The Foreman, the head of the worker ants.
  • John Mahoney as Grebs, a drunk ant scout who talked about Insectopia.
  • Jane Curtin as Muffin "Muffy" the Wasp, Chip's wife.
  • Paul Mazursky as Z's Psychiatrist
  • Jerry Sroka as the Bartender, the unnamed bartender of the bar that Z and Weaver frequent.
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