Minuscule: Valley of the Lost Ants
Minuscule: Valley Of The Lost Ants is a feature-length, ultra-family-friendly expansion of the Minuscule series of children’s animated shorts that have received widespread acclaim in their native France. Helmed by directors Hélène Giraud and Thomas Szabo, this rich and charming world of creepy crawlies has made it to UK cinemas just in time for the May half-term, where it will no doubt provide a welcome distraction for many families with young children.
The story here, such as it is, centres on a ladybird and a black ant, who fall in with each other after happening upon an abandoned tin of sugar cubes. Between them, and with the help of the ant’s adorably industrious crew of fellow workers, they must take their newfound stash back to the ant’s home: a towering anthill set atop a distant hillside outcrop. As you would expect from a children’s movie, the unlikely pair overcome numerous obstacles along the way including hungry lizards, waterfalls and an army of villainous red ants who eventually lay siege to the black ant’s hill in a protracted finale. The plot is entirely serviceable; it serves as a vehicle for throwing our protagonists into situations that provide ample opportunity for surprisingly funny slapstick and warmer moments of interaction that will have kids laughing or cooing their way to the credits. That being said, after a neatly worked first act, the narrative and pace of Minuscule do start to unravel and the movie fairly limps into its final scenes.
Of course in any animated movie the quality of the animation itself is important in keeping audiences immersed. Thankfully, Minuscule stands up for the most part. Barring a couple of ropy scenes (the aforementioned waterfall in particular), the animation is crisp, simple and charismatic. The cast of ladybirds, ants and other assorted insects are delightfully expressive in a minimalistic way, with exaggerated eye and body movements used to convey meaning in the absence of any spoken dialogue. This is supported by excellent sound design: whistles, hoots and kazooesque trumpeting serve as the language of Minuscule’s insect world and will likely have younger audience members hooting at their parents for days after watching.
All in all, Minuscule is a lighthearted children’s romp through a giant’s land. Although it drags towards the final act, it maintains enough momentum that kids will be dragged along from start to finish.
Minuscule: Valley of the Lost Ants is released nationwide on 27th May 2016.
Watch the trailer for Minuscule: Valley of the Lost Ants here: