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On Tweedy's Chicken Farm in the north of England, Ginger (Julia Sawalha) is sick of being cooped up and forced to lay eggs. Determined to lead her fellow chickens to freedom, she tries one escape plan after another - but nothing works. Then one day a new arrival crashlands in the barnyard: Rocky the Flying Rooster (Mel Gibson) a brash, cocksure American escapee from a nearby circus. 

Z (Woody Allen) is a worker ant - one of a billion - smitten by the beautiful Princess Bala (Sharon Stone). But Z, undergoing therapy, is undaunted by the ant colony's rigid caste system and the fact he is told he has no chance of getting close to the princess. He enlists the aid of his soldier friend Weaver (Sylvester Stallone), begging him to change places for the royal presentation, so Z can be within coooee of the Princess. 

Review by Louise Keller:
This irresistible stop-motion clay animation parody from Peter Lord and Nick Park is a total delight, with clay chickens and characters that assume a life of their own. Doing for chickens what Gary Larson did for cows, Lord and Park have managed to create a bizarre world of chicken angst in a concentration camp-like setting. The characters are very real and we become engrossed in their plight, their relationships, their hopes and dreams. The drama is played for real and superb casting allows the versatile and distinctive voices of Mel Gibson, Julia Sawalha and Miranda Richardson to bring the chickens and their keepers to life.

The story: the chickens on Mrs Tweedy's farm in the North of England are determined to escape to greener pastures, with head chick Ginger tired of being cooped up forced to lay eggs. All escape plans fail until one day cocky Rocky the Flying Rooster crashlands into the barnyard, giving Ginger new escape hopes. She persuades Rocky to teach the chickens to fly in return for hiding him. But inside the Tweedy farm, Mrs Tweedy has devised a new money making plan to sell Chicken Pies instead of eggs.

The special features are a treat and include Poultry in Motion documentary; Hatching of Chicken Run documentary; Read-along; Cast & crew biographies; Panic Button; TV spot and 2 Theatrical trailers. The piece de resistance is the directors' commentary, when Park and Lord with their English understatement and charm relive the whole filmmaking experience with contagious enthusiasm. 

Review by Louise Keller:
Unique and imaginative in its concept, Antz is a delight, loaded with wit, style and charm. It’s a joyous ride into the structured world of these endearing insects, where workers, drones, soldiers and queen all take their place. Yet the emotions and sensibilities are all human, and we can relate to them beautifully. 

Technically, there’s plenty to ogle at, but it’s the key role voiced by the irrepressible Woody Allen, that makes this tale of the individual versus the system, an enticing foray into a world about which most of us will never have fantasised – not like this, anyhow. From the very beginning when Z ant is contemplating his insecurities on the therapist’s couch, Antz is a film that involves, delights and amuses. 

Allen and the ant are one – it is hard to separate them, and it’s not hard to believe the role was written for him. There are plays on words, the use of carefully chosen, relevant music and the casting of a most impressive line up of talent. Sharon Stone, seductive as the princess; Sly Stallone, distinctive tones bring pathos; Jennifer Lopez, alluring. The themes comprise loyalty, duty, ambition and accomplishment, and we are barracking for the workers all along. Antz is a stunning escape, a marvellous use of cinematic animation skills that buzz from concept to execution. For lovers of great ideas, executed with pizzazz and panache, Antz is the critter of the season.

Special features comprise an audio commentary, behind the scenes featurette, basics of computer animation and facial animation.

Published April 29, 2004

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CAST: CHICKEN RUN: VOICES: Mel Gibson, Julia Sawalha, Miranda Richardson, John Sarian ANTZ: VOICES: Woody Allen, Sharon Stone, Sylvester Stallone

DIRECTOR: CHICKEN RUN: Peter Lord, Nick Park; ANTZ: Eric Darnell, Lawrence Guterman, and Tim Johnson

RUNNING TIME: CHICKEN RUN: 84 minutes; ANTZ: 82 minutes

PRESENTATION: widescreen

SPECIAL FEATURES: CHICKEN RUN: Poultry in Motion documentary; Hatching of Chicken Run documentary; Directors commentary; Read-along; Cast & crew biographies; Panic Button; TV spot; 2 Theatrical trailers ANTZ: Audio commentary; Behind the scenes featurette; Basics of computer animation; Facial animation; Character design; Theatrical trailer

DVD DISTRIBUTOR: Universal Pictures Video

DVD RELEASE: March 3, 2004

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