Ice Age — will it dominate overseas again?

If anything signaled the end of Disney’s dominance in the feature-length animated-film department, as well as the rise of computer-animated films over traditionally hand-drawn animated films, it was the release, ten years ago, of Ice Age.

Prior to that, most of the major cartoons — the successful ones, that is — were produced by Disney, distributed by Disney or, in the case of DreamWorks, produced by former Disney people who were either imitating Disney’s style (a la The Prince of Egypt) or mocking it (a la Shrek).* But Ice Age changed all that: produced by Fox, it borrowed at least some of its sensibility from the old Warner Brothers cartoons — certainly where the hapless Wile E. Coyote-like Scrat was concerned — and its makers didn’t seem to have Disney on the brain at all. And audiences still flocked to it anyway.

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Review: Antz (dir. Eric Darnell & Tim Johnson, 1998); A Bug’s Life (dir. John Lasseter, 1998)

antz2Go to the ant, thou moviegoer; consider its ways and be wise. This famous proverb works on the assumption that all ants act and work alike. But what if the ant we considered was a nonconformist, a social misfit who didn’t feel like he or she belonged in proper ant society? Two recent feature-length computer-animated films explore this scenario.

Antz, still going strong after almost two months in theatres, follows the misadventures of Z-4195, an ant who frets that he is "insignificant" because, "when you’re the middle child in a family of five million, you don’t get any attention." Moreover, he’s just one of many worker ants who dig, dig, dig all day long and then head off to the bar for an evening of aphid-excreted beer and dull, formulaic, pre-patterned dancing.

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