Bugging Out

With a working class hero and greedy land developing villain, Ants’ sets up one of cinema’s easiest conflicts – then adds killer bugs.

Soapy character drama barely holds Ants together, the usual romance and tough guy character interplay common to disaster movies during the ‘70s; Ants isn’t out to change the formula.

Ants is mindless filler in the animals attack genre

Being early in the climate change push, Ants finds hotel gusts swarmed by angry insects upset by over construction. At issue though, the bugs come super powered, sucking up now useless pesticides, biting them back into the humans. It’s as ludicrous as the nuclear monsters two decades prior, albeit with more naturalist ideals.

Ants’ finale does find success, to what limited credit this TV movie earns. Three main characters find themselves trapped on an upper floor, the ants swarming, the protagonists and antagonist sitting back-to-back unable to move for fear of agitating the buggers. It’s an effective build, from the actors having no ants on them to being covered – legitimately, not with post production tricks – and the silence letting tension build.

What comes before struggles to maintain any thrills. The script buries itself in uninteresting business dealings and familiar sequences where local leaders deny anything is going wrong. Or, in this case, they believe it’s a contained virus. It takes a man who can drive a tractor (Robert Foxworth) to sort out the truth, giving Ants its simple, widely relatable star. Advertisers probably loved this as an easy sell during its prime time debut. Now it’s mindless filler in the animals attack genre.

Video

Kino markets a new 2K master for this release, but it’s not a good one. At all. A scratchy print maintains its grain structure, but it’s handled poorly. Ants looks swarmed by digital noise rather than natural film. The screen looks messy rather than clear, more like an older master rather than a fresh one.

Resolution isn’t anything to note. Ants’ lagging sharpness reduces most detail. Texture barely makes a mark, whether up close or from distance. This passes for HD, if just barely.

For these faults, the worst remains the barely noticeable color. Primaries hardly pop even at their best, failing to give Ants any visual energy. Contrast and black levels don’t help, flattening everything and reducing depth to almost zero. Also, Kino offers both 1.85:1 and 1.33:1 aspect ratio options, but appear generally identical, although the academy ratio looks slightly more compressed at a glance.

Audio

Presented in DTS-HD mono, the lesser recording quality doesn’t do this disc any favors. In difficult situations, say a bathroom, the echo is so raw, the lines are barely intelligible. Elsewhere, Ants lacks precision in the dialog, worse than age might suggest. The score is nothing memorable either, flat and staying in higher frequencies.

Extras

Kino invites historian Lee Gambin into the booth for a commentary. Then, they track down actors Barbara Brownell, Barry Van Dyke, Anita Gillete, and Moosie Drier for audio interviews. Then, in another audio piece, production assistant Valerie Landsburg.

Ants!
  • Video
  • Audio
  • Extras
2

Movie

Ants meanders around a posh hotel, barely offering any excitement during its soapy TV drama.

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The following six screen shots serve as samples for our subscription-exclusive set of 32 full resolution, uncompressed HD screen shots grabbed directly from the Blu-ray: