This vs That – Accurate vs Successful Bug Films

So, the next installement in our this vs that series… Have you seen all of these films? Have you even heard of all of these films? If truth be told, I had seen half of them prior to writing this blog post and the others conveniently fitted in to the various missing slots on the axes. Do you agree or disagree?

accurate vs successful bug films

Starship Troopers (1997)

Was it successful?

This cult classic didn’t make a huge amount at the box office, but did alright (£77.4m). It got a 60% fresh rating from Rotten Tomatoes, so it clearly does something right for some people. It was also on our reserve list for 5 Movies Rentokil would have ruined….

Was it accurate?

In the distant future, humans are fighting the Arachnids, an alien race who live on the planet Klendathu. If they defeat the “brain bugs” that control the Arachnids activities, they can win the war. I could go into the fact that it is highly unlikely that alien races will have evolved in this way. Looking like bugs is unlikely, largely because of how their planet’s gravity and environs are radically different, but that may be a bit nerdy. I’ll just put down: no, it’s not accurate. That we know of.

A Bug’s Life (1998)

Was it successful?

This Disney/Pixar film made £233m at the box office, and it got a 91% fresh rating at Rotten Tomatoes, so yeah, it was pretty successful.

Was it accurate?

The main character, Flik the ant, is an inventor you see, and a bit clumsy. So  when he accidentally ruins all the food the ants gathered for the evil grasshoppers, he is sent on a fool’s errand. But because he is true to himself, he is able to get rid of the evil grasshoppers, saves the day and gets the girl.

Obviously, ants aren’t inventors, and an ant would never be sent to do anything other than gather food. But interestingly, some insects do use ants’ industriousness to their own advantage, just not necessarily grasshoppers. The butterfly species Maculina rebeli releases a scent when it is in the larval stage that mimics the scent ant larvae release so that ants will feed and care for it, and it even mimics the distinct sound a queen ant larva makes just to get special treatment.

Ratatouille (2007)

Was it successful?

Seriously? It’s the 50th highest grossing film in history (at the time of writing this post), and made more than £398.6m at the box office. To say nothing of products and cross promotions – and stewed vegetable sales. It’s a hit with the critics, too, scoring a 96% fresh rating on Rotten Tomatoes.

Was it accurate?

Well, there’s the talking and the cooking – which rats just don’t do. That said, it’s probably the most accurate cartoon featuring a rat out there. Consider that the animators worked really hard to make the rats life-like, their anatomy is pretty correct (except for the standing, walking on hind legs, holding objects as big as wooden spoons, etc.). Plus, Remy is sociable, loyal, clean and has an excellent sense of smell, all of which you would see in a pet rat.

Microcosmos (1996)

Was it successful?

This French documentary is perhaps the best-selling insect documentary, racking up £925k in gross sales, which isn’t too shabby for 77 minutes of nothing but insects.

Was it accurate?

Absolutely. And judging by reviews on Rotten Tomatoes (97% fresh), it was a real eye opener for many people who previously had not thought of insects as particularly interesting animals.

Rat Ribbons (2006)

Was it successful?

No, not particularly. But that is the way it is for independent documentaries about rat ‘fanciers’ – people who own and breed pet rats.

Was it accurate?

I’m not particularly au fait with the world of rat shows; they, unlike dog or horse shows, are not exactly mainstream. But can you imagine anyone making this sort of stuff up?

The Hellstrom Chronicles (1971)

Was it successful?

Well, there aren’t enough reviews to get a score on Rotten Tomatoes, and there don’t seem to be any box office figures available. The few people who have seen it seemed to like it, though, as it got a rating of 7.3/10 on IMDb.

Was it accurate?

This film was a quasi-documentary, showing that humans and insects are locked in a battle for world domination – which the insects will one day win. It featured a fictional scientist, mixed with some real-world microphotography of insects, so it was somewhat accurate.

Eight Legged Freaks (2002)

Was it successful?

It had moderate box office returns, making £29.5m. But it’s got a 47% rotten rating on Rotten Tomatoes, and it was criticised for having “a promising first half, but run(ning) out of ideas in the second.”

Was it accurate?

A chemical spill causes tiny poisonous spiders to grow to the size of cars overnight. That simply would not happen. Even if spiders were affected by random chemical spills, it would probably take longer than one night for them to grow to be that huge. And I presonally would run kicking and screaming away from any screen which showed it. I really, really, REALLY don’t like spiders!

White Wilderness (1958)

Was it successful?

This was part of Disney’s True-Life Adventure series so in the Disney sense I suppose so.

Was it accurate?

This “documentary” could not be less accurate. It was one of several made at the time that explored the life of lemmings, but they imported lemmings from their native habitat in Manitoba to Alberta (Canada), where lemmings are not found. The migration scenes involved several hundred lemmings, rather than the thousands implied, that were placed on a snow-covered revolving platform and filmed from several angles to make them look like they were engaged in a mass migration. Then, worst of all, they were herded off a cliff by the filmmakers in a dramatic finale showing the suicidal tendencies of lemmings. They do mass migrate when populations get too large, and they may wander into unfamiliar territory, and sometimes some animals will be accidentally pushed off cliffs or mistakenly swim into the ocean thinking it’s merely a river or lake, but they never commit suicide. And if you think about the way evolution works, animals never voluntarily take their own genes out of the gene pool. It just wouldn’t make sense.

So come on then, what other films would you add to the list?

Images courtesy of:
Starship Troopers – Sony Pictures – image

A Bug’s Life
– Disney
- image
Ratatouille
– Disney –
image
Microcosmos –
Pathe! (UK Distributor) – Miramaximage
Rat Ribbons
– Galloping Films –
image
The Hellstrom Chronicles – Cinema 5 Distributing – image

Eight Legged Freaks – Warner Brothers –
image
White WildernessDisneyimage

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