The story begins with a normal setting out in the countryside. This is not CGI but real film. However, throughout the film the two are fantastically fused together. What you see from a human point of view uses standard film but watch when it goes to the micro world of insects, the CGI opens a totally new vista which works very,very well for the movie.
In that peaceful little clearing, the remains of a picnic hastily abandoned spark warfare between two tribes of ants. A bold young ladybug finds himself caught in the middle of the battle. He befriends one of the black ants, Mandible, and helps him save the anthill from the assault of the terrible red ant warriors, led by the fearful Butor.
A fantastic journey at ground level, the excursion opens with a bird’s eye wink at mankind: a young couple, out for a romantic afternoon drive in their bright red VW bug. However, this is not their story; rather, it follows the fate of their picnic supplies, left behind for tiny scavengers. In this spirit, a title card trumpets the heroism of a lone ladybug — the William Wallace of the insect world, Braveheart of the bugs — whom we see abandoned by his family and adopted by a colony of black ants under full-scale attack by a rival red-ant faction.
What follows is a very surreal war between the colonies—and the film accelerates tremendously towards an exciting conclusion. From time to time, the ladybug bumps into larger creatures intent on eating him — a frog, a fish and a lizard as terrifying in its scale as the T-rex must have seemed to the humans in “Jurassic Park.” Employed in the battle between the black and red ants is an amusing range of virtual props. The attackers fire slingshots and carry a can of bug spray (a toxic weapon for both sides), while the defending black-ant colony hordes a stockpile of fireworks, but only one match.
The best thing about the film is simply how different it is from everything else. Too often films are derivative and familiar; however, here the filmmakers manage to create something wholly new and clever. The CGI is lovely—and different from what you’d see from other animation film outfits. More noticeable is the music. It’s almost magical and so unlike the typical child-oriented CGI film. It’s instead very classically inspired and perfect for the film. Finally, the film has a cute sense of humor. This is really a film to see for the entire family this Christmas Season.
The film already won the 2014 Mill Valley Film Festival Audience Award for Best Children’s Feature Film for Directors Thomas Szabo and Hélène Giraud and was nominated in three other film festival events. It was nominated for Cristal Best Feature Award at the Annecy International Animated Film Festival 2014 , the 2014 European Film Award for Best Animated Feature Film, and the 2013 Tallinn Black Nights Film Festival Award for Best Children’s Film. Now it is vying for the Best Animated Film for the 87th Oscar Awards.
Directed by Thomas Szabo and Helene Giraud, MINUSCULE : Valley of the Lost Ants is distributed by Solar Pictures, Inc. A pre-Christmas treat for the entire family showing at your favorite theaters on December 3, 2014.