Antz is a computer-animated film created by DreamWorks in 1998, the first feature film by DreamWorks Animation and the third feature-length CGI movie ever released (the Brazilian Cassiopéia was the second feature-length CGI movie ever released while the American Toy Story was the first). Most of the time, if someone mentions it, they're either comparing it or confusing it with Pixar's A Bug's Life, which is also a computer-animated film about ants released in 1998. However, Antz is far Darker and Edgier than A Bug's Life, as it was geared more towards adults and teenagers—who all brought their children and younger siblings to see it.The protagonist is a worker ant named Z, voiced by Woody Allen. He is somewhat neurotic and maladjusted to life in an ant colony, where each individual is treated as an insignificant part of a greater society. One day, he hears a drunk veteran soldier ant rant about some place called Insectopia, where food is plentiful, there are no rules, and everyone lives in peace. Z and his soldier friend Weaver (voiced by Sylvester Stallone) snicker at the old ant behind his back and think the idea of an "Insectopia" is hilarious.Meanwhile, the lovely Princess Bala (voiced by Sharon Stone) is living in the palace, but finds it dull and does not happily anticipate her upcoming marriage to General Mandible (voiced by Gene Hackman), or the idea of giving birth every ten seconds as Queen. She drags two serving girls down to the workers bars, where she dances with Z, who falls for her instantly. Z soon realizes however that he'll never see her again, so he convinces his friend Weaver to switch places with him for a day, just to see Princess Bala at a royal inspection, while Weaver gets to interact with some of the worker girls.All does not go according to plan however, as it turns out the royal inspection was just before being sent into an unexpected war with a nearby termite mound. Z is the only survivor through pure luck.Meanwhile, Weaver, who has fallen for the career girl (and Z's work friend) Azteca (voiced by Jennifer Lopez), feels terrible about switching places, even though he too had no idea the army was about to go to war. However when he learns Z is the surviving ant and is now a war hero, he is ecstatic.When Z meets the Queen (voiced by Anne Bancroft) and Bala again, she recognises him as the worker from the bar. Mandible is furious that a worker danced with his fiance, and the nervous Z hides behind Bala, but it is assumed that he is taking her hostage. She beats him off quite easily, but in doing so they fall down a garbage chute.Z is forced by a series of his own mistakes to flee the colony with a troop of soldier ants in pursuit. Since he cannot go back, he decides to go out looking for Insectopia. Bala doesn't know how to get back home on her own and has little choice but to go with him.
An Aesop: Z runs away from the colony because he hates being an insignificant part of some huge thing. In the end of the film, he realizes the colony is able to survive because while individually insignificant, the ants are mighty when they all work together.
He also accepts his role in life, because this time he chose it.
Artistic License - Biology: No, termites do NOT look like that. They are small and white, with large orange heads, and do not shoot acid, are not bigger than ants, and way more.
There's some Truth in Television here, as some species of termites have a facial appendage called a "fontanellar gun" that sprays a noxious substance, though it's more of a toxic glue rather than acid. This is most likely what the termites in the movie spray regardless, as instead of melting the ants that it lands on it seems to just stick on their bodies. Then again, melting ants probably wouldn't be too good to show in a theater full of kids.
Black Dude Dies First: Granted, a lot of dudes die in the war, but the one Z spends the most time with when he's dying? Danny Glover.
Bowdlerized: Whenever it is shown on TV, all the swear words are edited out. And there's quite a lot of petty swearing in the movie, so some of the dialogue is almost completely out of context. This is all to keep it in the Animation Age Ghetto.
General Mandible: We will finish this tunnel, on schedule. Come - hell or high water.
Gentle Giant: The wasps, Chip and Muffy (hey, they're giant from an ant's point of view!)
Well, Muffy more so than Chip, who mildly admonishes her for her charity towards "lowly" crawling insects like ants when they first met Z and Bala.
Getting Crap Past the Radar: Granted, it was geared towards adults and teens, but nevertheless, aside from swearing, there was also a scene where Z mentions that he wants to place Princess Bala in his wildest erotic fantasies. Ironically, they edited out sexual (the original line being "erotic sexual fantasies") to keep the PG rating despite "erotic" being an even dirtier use of the word. Also, Chip the wasp is clearly drunk at one point.
The scene where Azteca is briefly tortured off-screen comes across as disturbingly rapey.
Word of God says they're actually grabbing her antennae.
"What are you bitching about?" from Weaver talking to Z at the bar.
"I have some issues with drinking from the anus of another animal." - Z at that same bar.
Humans Are Cthulhu: A plastic-wrapped sandwich is "surrounded by Some Kind of Force Field", and an unseen sadistic human with a magnifying glass becomes a Flying Saucer with Death Ray (complete with The War of the Worlds sound effects) in a clear take-off of the "It's beautiful" scene in Independence Day. Also the human at the picnic, who is practically a living mountain compared to the insects (all we ever see are his feet and legs). A kid's sneaker is the size of a battleship (the scale according to Word of God).
Oddly averted when Z stares at Lincoln's face on a penny and exclaims, "Who the hell is that?!"
Ink-Suit Actor: Nearly everyone has some resemblance to their voice actor, of course turned into anthropomorphic ants. It is actually quite unnerving watching Weaver channel the expressions of Sylvester Stallone. The irony is that, according to the DVD Commentary, the characters were all designed *before* the actors were cast, as was the decision to give Weaver "Stallone-esque" lips.
Inverted in that Z originally was to wear Woody Allen-style thick glasses. They decided against it.
At the campfire in Insectopia, right as Z and Bala are about to kiss, one of the hippie bugs asks Z to get more firewood. As Z goes to get it, he asks them if they know why they're called "pests".
Z: Great, nothing like a little manual labor on the most romantic night of my life!
Muffy is smacked with a flyswatter and killed while she and Chip... uh... made Z lose his appetite.
When Weaver is flirting with Azteca, the foreman comes along.
The Mourning After: Chip does this after his wife Muffy is swatted. When Z decides to follow Cutter back to the Colony (after he picks up Bala), Chip offers to help him get there, coming out of a discarded bottle of scotch, drunk from grief.
In an early script, Cutter was going to have a lady friend among the palace workers, who would double as Bala's best (and only) friend. But this would have taken attention away from the main romances, which were Z and Bala, and Weaver and Azteca.
The Purge: Mandible's Evil Plan is to wipe out all the workers and the queen, so he could make a new colony filled with soldiers. Wiping out the soldiers loyal to the queen was the first step.
Shout-Out: To Independence Day, when the kid with the magnifying glass vaporizes a dumb soldier ant who thinks the light is beautiful, a take-off on a similar dialogue. The sound effects are directly from the original War of the Worlds.
Metropolis, the scene where they try to drown the workers.
Which also qualifies as an Ironic Echo, as this was stated to Colonel Cutter when he helps the colony escape immediately after Z tells Mandible that they are the colony in response to Mandible's claims that letting the colony drown was for the good of the colony.
Sickeningly Sweethearts: The wasps, Chip and Muffy. From mild bantering to "Cuddly Widdles" and "my big, strong pheromone factory".
Visual Pun: Chip and Muffy, the Yellowjackets, are portrayed like stereotypical upper-class WASPs.
War Is Hell: Z finds his first taste of battle unpleasant, to say the least.
You Have Failed Me: The Queen sees General Mandible as this for failing to bring back her daughter. Of course, she didn't really like him that much to begin with despite seeing him as a suitable mate for her daughter.
You Owe Me: Subverted when Z is trying to get Weaver to agree to switch places with him.
Z: Please, Weaver, please. Think of all the things I've done for you.
Weaver: Hmm... Can't think of any.
Z: Okay, well, think of all the things that I'm gonna do for you!
You're Insane!: Said by Bala to General Mandible after she learned the true purpose of the Mega Tunnel.
Princess Bala: You're crazy! General Mandible:(smiles and replies calmly) I believe history will see things differently.
Surprisingly appropriate, since the winners of a war are the ones who make history - obviously Mandible believes he will win.
Zerg Rush: (Ants really do fight like this, minus the tiny spears obviously.)