Monday, March 12, 2007

The Ants Are My Friends...

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Empire of the Ants is allegedly based on an HG Wells' story. Sort of like that execrable War of the Worlds was. They also share another quality--the solemn narrator (which luckily for EotA only serves as an introduction). Thankfully though, there is no parallel to the shrieking Dakota Fanning in EotAHere ya go:

This is the ant.Treat it with respect for it may very well be the next dominant life form of our planet. Sound incredible? Impossible? Have you ever taken a good close look at what the ant is all about? Like these... one of the 15,000 different species inhabiting our planet. This one cultivates crops of fungus for food. Others herd aphids, just as man herds cattle. And what about the warriors? The builders of bridges, roads, tunnels. Frightening, isn't it, that a creature as small as an ant is able to have a fair claim to rank next to Man on the scale of intelligence.

What's frightening is the bullshit narration. Essentially you get the movie plot
in suma. Cultivating crops? Check. Herding? Check. Warring? Check.

Like Night of the Lepus and unlike some of the other movies I'm showcasing, EotA is a fusion sci-fi/horror film. Part big "insert animal here." Part enivronmental panic parable. Part 70s morality play about the dangers of development. Ultimately, though what you get with EotA is a Them! rip-off, set in the Florida Everglades. Seriously. Shady guys dump shiny new barrels of toxic waste into the ocean. One barrel washes ashore and we later see it, washed up on the beach, corroded and icky. Toxic waste is apparently irresistible to ants. Toxic waste mutates ants to more-than human size. Sadly, the special effects in the movie show no sort of techincal advancement in the 20-odd years since Them! was released.

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Part green screen, part puppet--all schlock. The film does do this one thing which I love--the ant-compound vision-pov cam shot. This is brilliant. And hideous. All at the same time.

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The best thing about this movie is Joan Collins in a pantsuit and headscarf, working towards her ultimate cultural role of power bitch. It'd be another few years until she landed Dynasty, but the haughty coolness is at work. Let me take a minute to address lady miss Joan. She hates this movie. The dvd copy proclaims that she doesn't want you to see this movie. She says that it was the worst acting gig of her life. Considering her resume, this is something to consider. She has been in some bad shit. There's also this curious affectation of a southern accent that comes and goes. Sort of like Tina Turner in reverse, but less consistent.

The second best thing about this movie is that they actually try to use some sort of science admist the sci-fi/enviomental terror crap--the mutant queen ant emits a pheremone that not only controls ants but people as well. So people end up being sprayed with talcum powder and then turn all Stepford, seeking sugar and other fungible ant necessities. Good good stuff. Especially the footage of giant ants running a sugar factory. Superimposed ants --marvelous. Luckily there's a tanker truck marked "Flammable" outside the sugar factory. Eventually characters escape , they blow up the truck and ants. The end.

But what of Joan Collins? She gets eaten. By a monstrous puppet ant.

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Haiku Synopsis:

Empire of the Ants
Toxic waste mutates
Ants. They want to rule the world.
Boom! The ants are dead.




1 comment:

Keith Woodruff said...

RJ, thanks for these posts.

It's drive in movie night (without the cheap beer) all over again - which wasn't so bad once you threw in Frogs and Food of the Gods.