Crawling with Fun
Bugs! 3D
Review by Ross Anthony

Close on a leaf, in 3-D animation small bugs chomp out the title of the film. Very nicely realized on film.

A single caterpillar egg fills the giant screen. Translucent and in tight 3-D, the bug eats it's way out into the lush green rain forest. Concurrently, a praying mantis is born with scores of brothers and sisters. "Bugs!" follows the story of these two, the vegetarian and the carnivore, while bringing into brilliant light and color the splendid and amazingly small creatures that crawl and fly. Two mail rhino beetles wrestle, leaf-cutter ants march, a tree-frog wraps itself in a rubber leaf umbrella. The size of a 3-story building, a praying mantis bites the head off of an unlucky fly. Gross, yes. But absolutely brilliantly filmed. You'll want to look away, but you'll simply marvel at this magnificent cinematography.

A stunning shot from inside a cave captures a swarm of hungry bats, but stops short of including their feeding rituals. The score is careful, sensitive with a spice of humor. Much of the action takes place on the lower portion of the screen, I suggest you sit low in the theatre.

Oh, and as for our friendly caterpillar-turned-butterfly ...well, let's just say that the praying mantis didn't go hungry.

NOTE: During our screening at the LFCA convention, due to an error in editing on our particular print, the left and right eye film reels were accidentally swapped. This resulted in impossible convergence (bad 3-D), we were told to turn our glasses upside down -- and that corrected the problem. Isn't that fascinating? I'm confident, that this will be corrected at your particular screening. Also, of the ten or so LF films screened at the LFCA conference, BUGS! Was the production that most wowed the filmmakers (and me too!).

UPDATE: Yes, flawless. I recently "re-screened" this film at the California Science Center IMAX in Los Angeles. What a magnificent presentation! Script, narration, musical score, and big brilliant amazing photography -- all excellent. This is a film not to be missed! Did I say "A?" Make that an "A+!"

About the camera: The complex motion controlled camera system weighed three tons, had more lights than it normally takes to light a cathedral, and all this focused on a scene sometimes not bigger than a postage stamp. In studio this meant wearing sunglasses to film and bringing in industrial air conditioning units to keep ambient temperature down and localized air condition units to keep the sets/bugs/crew cool.

  • Bugs! 3D. Copyright © 2003.
  • Narrated by Judi Dench. Directed by Mike Slee.
  • DP Sean Phillips with Peter Parks.
  • Produced by SK Films/Terminix/TheFilmCOnsortium/ Film Council/UKFTV/Principal.


Copyright © 2003. Ross Anthony, currently based in Los Angeles, has scripted and shot documentaries, music videos, and shorts in 35 countries across North America, Europe, Africa and Asia. For more reviews visit:

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Last Modified: Saturday, 16-Sep-2006 08:19:43 PDT