A fun kids' adventure, Ant Bully was a lost film of 2006, ignored likely due to a similar concept and rapidly growing repetition amongst CG animated films. Taken on its own, it’s a colorful and imaginative affair that’s bound to captivate the target audience while harmless for adults. However, other similar titles are hard to ignore.
John Davis, who previously handled the fun Jimmy Neutron movie, directs this story of a boy shrunk down to ant size and forced to accept his punishment for his attempts to destroy the colony when he was full human height. The messages are here and apparent, out there for the kids to grasp and understand. It’s going to be hard for parents who might have an insect problem in their home to ever call an exterminator with Ant Bully and Over the Hedge out there, but the underlying lesson remains positive.
Bully gains a few early respect points with a subtle reference to sci-fi classic Them!, then becomes an energetic adventure. Action is lively and on a large scale, at least in terms of ants. Some mild adult humor hardly should have pushed this into PG territory, and kids will have plenty of laughs on their level to keep them glued to the screen while smiling.
Some of the ant peril aspects have been ripped directly from a growing line of insect-based animated features. A water attack is highly similar to the rain sequence from Pixar’s A Bug’s Life. The character design is likewise highly reminiscent, though few of the characters in Ant Bully are anywhere near as memorable. Bruce Campbell voices the goofy, rather dumb ant Fugax and becomes the most likely connection with kids aside from the human lead.
Low on originality, this remains a lighthearted animated effort with wonderful animation that’s loads of fun to watch. It crams all the necessary aspects of a movie for children into a brief 80 minute frame. A Bug’s Life may be a better choice, but if that’s past its prime in your home, this is an excellent alternative.
Digital transfers are a wonderful thing. Any and all videophiles will have this disc on their shelves for every reason imaginable. Filled with rich colors, it amazingly avoids expected compression problems. Clarity and sharpness are remarkable, and depth will be some of the best you’ll ever see. You can appreciate the texture detail appropriately thanks to the added resolution. Black levels are consistent and mixed flawlessly to avoid blocking out any of the gorgeous visuals.
It’s a shame the audio doesn’t compare the effort in the video department. Even the True HD mix is flat. Bass is a factor, yet nowhere near a level you’d expect it to be in a world filled with giants. The soundtrack nicely envelops the viewer, while the action is confined to the front channels. A few minor uses of the left and right channels are nothing special.
Extras are sparse, led by a 16-minute featurette which is hosted by one of the minor characters as the creators disclose the basics of how the movie was created in terms kids can grasp. Eleven minutes of deleted scenes follow, which are so-so in terms of entertainment value. Some short animation outtakes are cute, as the animators have some fun with the character models, the best which is a Matrix parody. Eight animated shorts are the best of the bunch, though they’re not in HD or anamorphic. Extras are included on both sides of this combo disc.
As with any Bruce Campbell movie, there’s bound to be a reference to his other works to satisfy his rabid fan base. Here, it’s a brief one liner during a call to a pizza parlor. “Hail to the King” has to be one of the best means to answer a phone in the history of pizza delivery.