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Minuscule: Valley of the Lost Ants – Review

Everyone must have had a time, most likely during their primary education, when you learned how amazing ants are. Able to lift fifty times their own body weight, working as a collective team and all obeying a ruling Queen Ant, they are pretty cool.

The insects are no stranger to the big screen with films such as Disney’s  A Bug’s Life and DreamWorks’ Antz capturing audience’s imagination about our miniature friends. Now a French/Belgian collaboration takes the story of worker ants to the big screen in Minuscule: Valley of the Lost Ants.

Minuscule follows a young ladybug as she comes into the world. While being chased by bullying flies, she sadly loses one of her wings. Taking refuge in an abandoned human picnic , she befriends kindly working ants who attempt to carry a tin of sugar back to their colony. On the journey they are pursued by larger red ants who want the sugar all for themselves. Can our ladybug reach the colony safety? Can she also overcome her disability and help her new friends fight off the invading ants?

The film is set in the same universe as the French Minuscule TV series. Each episode gives a bird’s eye view look at different insects and the feature film expands on the adventures of some of these characters. Like the TV series the film is part CGI part live-action mixing the two forms together. The film is also told without speech or dialogue of any kind.

The narrative of the film goes deep into the insect’s world and sees them try to survive in the wilderness. The ladybug must survive in a world of strangers and the Ants must find food for their colony. This is a cute and appealing story yet is more for younger audiences that adults. The story, despite its fun nature, is small  and feels somewhat lost on the big screen. In taking the series from the small screen Minuscule has not grown enough as a cinematic effort except  in running time. The film still feels as if it belongs on TV instead of the cinema outing it so wishes to be.

The largest obstacle the film has had to overcome is its lack of dialogue. Instead of words, music and sound have been used for communications between characters and to tell the story. It is a hard task but one that is not unachievable (Shaun the Sheep Movie and Timmy Time anyone?)

Minuscule has overcome this obstacle and made an easily understandable and sweet film. Noises work in place of dialogue to convey the emotions and thoughts of the insects. Each character or groups of character (the Black and Red Ants the Flies), have their own theme music. The musical score, which continuously follows the film, conveys the tone and mood of the film.

The films animation is only half the story. All characters are CGI creations with a live action backdrop of woodland areas and forests. The animation, compared to the works of Pixar other CGI studios, is very basic and more similar to the works of Illumination and a TV style than works of the big screen. This is not to say it is unappealing or not cute. The film is sweet and its animation is fun for its target audience.

A cute but small family adventure. More suited to younger children and feeling better placed with a TV series than on the big screen, the film essentially fun but this ain’t no A Bug’s Life.


MINUSCULE IS OUT IN CINEMAS NOW! 

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