Micro Cosmos Film Review

This weekend was notable for a viewing of Micro Cosmos at the Bytowne, as well as finishing the long integer stuff up to division.

As you may know, Micro Cosmos is a smaller scale view of the world. Instead of people and buildings, there are insects and plants. Close up views of bug feet, close enough to see how they use their feet when climbing up a stem. Close enough to see the facetted blacks of their eyes. Close enough to see a bee wiping dust off its butt and wings.

Time is also modified, slowed down on occasion. One slow motion shot is during a rain storm that pelts those poor creatures, smashing them to the ground and covering them with dirt (probably making that cleanlyness compulsive bee go nuts). There's a nice shot of a ladybug on a blade of grass - the grass gets hit by a drop of rain, and deflects down, leaving the bug suspended in mid-air (kind of like Wilyee coyote). The bug drops, lands on its back and spins off the blade, into the abyss. Fortunately gravity and air resistance are also modified by size and a great fall won't hurt.

I'm not sure about the sound. Some of it is natural and some of it is foley. I wonder if the sound of a hundred ants simultaneously crawling out of a hole really sounds like what the film portrays.

Programmers can keep an eye out for the infinite loop. Insects are quite stupid automatons (fortunately for us), plus a smidgeon of neural network for learning. In this case, the caterpillars follow each other in a long chain, nose to butt, across a desert. They end up in a dying pile, when their path goes wrong, twitching in synchronised time as they dry up. Ok, maybe I'm misinterpreting (there isn't any dialog) and they may be doing an orgy in the desert or dancing or something, but it looks like drying up to me.

Water insects are covered too, and some more advanced life forms. Keep an eye out for the under water spider with it's silvery hostile environment helmet.

The main star is a certain beetle, I won't spoil it by writing any more. Or maybe the scene of the two snails mating, slowly (they are transparent animals, you can see their nerves (center to eye-stalk end) and insides as if you were Superman with X-ray vision).

Anyway, there are lots of novel shots, with some quite amazing camera work (like following a dragonfly through the air with a robotic helicopter camera). This film makes science fiction film aliens look quite boring and ordinary. It also makes Insektors look good (a 3D computer graphics cartoon with insect characters that capture a lot of the real insect's appearance (they must have done research)). I'd recommend seeing it if you want to see something different (Joe - there's nudity and sex and violence). Well, there isn't too much violence, the worst is the big bird scene, with amazing camera work from the munchee's point of view. On the other hand, there isn't much plot (just a day in the life of...).

Summing up, most interesting to adults, because they appreciate new things more than children. Interesting to some children, boring to others (it's just a bunch of insects moving around).

- Alex

Copyright © 1996 by Alexander G. M. Smith.