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Heads, A Hero, Humor, and Mystery--10 out of 10--Fantastic FUN! (No spoilers!), 20 November 1999

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

I've been looking forward to this film since first seeing the teaser trailer months ago, and I was in no way disappointed. The movie pulls off a lot that many other films reach for and don't quite grasp.

The characters were actually developed and 3-D for this kind of film--particularly Ichabod himself--which I didn't expect given the nature of the story. The acting is superb and FUN! Johnny Depp puts in a performance that I've read he was worried would be taken badly, going over the top as often as it does--but he nails it dead on, creating a great combination of personality strengths and flaws, seriousness and humor, for the hero. Christina Ricci does a great job as Katrina, also (I'd say more about that, but it would add spoilers). The town "fathers", so to speak, are the best little set of talented character actors you could ask for, so that even the smaller roles are acted well.

I really didn't expect as much HUMOR in this film, either--and as I'm one of those who is often one of the only ones laughing at select movies, let me add that there were about 3 or 4 empty seats spaced far apart in the whole theatre, and the rest of the audience was laughing right along with me.

The special effects and atmosphere were, of course, flawless, and the action sequences were exciting and well-executed (if you'll pardon the pun). Recreation of the time period and location, and the look and mood of everything was beautiful, as I expected from the artistry of Tim Burton. And how can you go wrong with Darth Maul heading up your action sequences? (Okay, don't pardon that one.) Another nice thing about the action was the fast pace of such sequences--none of this drag-the-time-out for a closeup of everything that's going on, audience-demeaning, intelligence-underestimating sort of thing. No, if you blink, if you're playing with your popcorn, if you're not paying attention, you just miss it.

The same goes for the information that'll let you play detective along with Ichabod, if you want. That leads me to the last amazing thing I'm going to rant about here--the fact that this was actually a well-written, nicely-plotted detective story. Many a more mainstream movie fails at putting together a good figure it out or be surprised (or a little of both, all depending on the type of moviegoer you are) MYSTERY. My significant other has great fun in trying to figure things out ahead of time as the plot unfolds, I don't and choose not to, and we both loved it, and found it filled with unexpected and unpredictable developments.

That's it, basically. I loved it, go see it if you want to see a perfectly-executed & fun supernatural mystery (as long as you don't mind decapitations and blood!), and I hope that you're as entertained as I was, and as I'm going to be when I go see it again! :)

80 out of 95 people found the following review useful:
A Bug's Life: Not Just Art, But Heart, 4 January 1999

(originally a response to a movie reviewer who said A Bug's Life was too much, too fast--he was "dazed and exhausted" by the visuals, and seemed to ignore the story completely)

Okay, first off, I'm 26 years old, have a job, go to school, and have a fiance'. So maybe I'm nuts and just really good at hiding it...but not only did I NOT come away from A Bug's Life exhausted or dazed, it wasn't until I saw it the second time that I could even begin to truly appreciate the artistry and humour of the spectacular visuals--because the first time I went to see this movie, I got so wrapped up in the story and the characters that I FORGOT that I was supposed to be sitting there being "wowed" by each frame visually. How can you not empathize with Flik and his road-to-heck-paved-with-good-intentions life? "Heck" indeed, I found myself identifying with that little ant (not to mention some of the other bugs) in a lot more ways than one...and that, in itself, says more to me about what an incredible movie this is than a whole book on its beautiful eye candy. Of course, it's beautiful (every blade of grass, the tree, the rain...). Of course, what they can do with technology is amazing (you can read their lips! try it!). But this movie is not just a masterpiece of art and tech, not just an dazzling explosion of movement and color. No, A Bug's Life would be static if it were all that and no story. But, I'm glad to say, it's not! A Bug's Life has real heart. Yes, there's a lot going on, storyline-wise as well as visually, but that's because the story and characters actually have some depth to them! Just because it's a kids' movie doesn't mean you should have to turn off your brain at the theatre door--kids are smarter than you think! Besides that, I think that the PIXAR crew made this for themselves, even before their kids...and it shows, in the amount of heart in has. This movie is moving, touching, funny, intriguing, and generally engrossing. The character development in such an ensemble cast is amazing, there's a major amount of character growth, and not just of the main character--so rare in animation and often in movies in general. It doesn't hit you over the head with its points once it's made them--every scene, every frame has a reason in the storyline for being there, and there are no gratuitous shots. Not always stating explicitly in words exactly what is going on means subtlety, to me, folks; it means not "dumbing down" your movie and assuming the audience is stupid, which it mostly is not. All I can think is, if you can see A Bug's Life and not feel anything at all, then you must have never made a big mistake, hurt your friends, had a crush, fallen in love, been frustrated that no one would listen to you, lied to someone you care about, felt like a social misfit, gotten excited over a new idea, come up with a great idea, had what you thought was a great idea backfire, been awkward one moment and confident the next, felt the pressure of responsibility, stood up for yourself and your loved ones, stood alone against the crowd, felt like a failure, felt like a big success, felt the need to make a difference with your life in the lives of others...well, you get the point. Final words: A+ rating from me; please, if you're going to see it try to see it in the theatre (pan and scan video is NOT going to work for this movie); if you loved Toy Story you'll most likely love this (PIXAR knows how to make movies with heart); if you do love it see it multiple times or you STILL won't know what you're missing (the amount of detail and subtlety here is considerable); and whenever you're feeling really low, just pretend it's a seed, okay?