How many ant-themed movies have there been? The classic THEM! from 1954 remains the best of the lot (ignore dross such as EMPIRE OF THE ANTS) but, in all such films, the threat to Mankind has come from 'giant' ants, not the ordinary little squigglers that crawl all over our summer picnic. PHASE IV redresses the balance in favour of the seemingly insignificant and tiny.
This is one of those quasi-mystical pieces of science fiction, like Kubrick's 2001, aimed at the intellectuals out there. One is either bored out of one's brain or transfixed and fascinated. I find myself in the latter camp and feel that this is a minor classic of the genre. With master titles designer Saul Bass at the helm, you know that you're going to get something that at least looks good - and PHASE IV looks superb. It's definitely a triumph of style over substance.
The plot, such as it is, is very deep and concerns the idea that man's time on earth is limited (by his own undoing) and that we will be survived by those hardy little buggers: the ants - BUT (and here comes the big idea) only if they can absorb something of our brain power and potential force. It's not just survival, it's an invasion of the human body, a close encounter of the formic kind!
Naturally, you can ignore all that and just look at the pretty pictures, endless close-ups of ants going about their sinister business set against dark full moon skies; or you can involve yourself in the human shenanigans between mutating obsessive scientist Nigel Davenport, reasonable Everyman played by Michael Murphy and nubile love interest Lynne Fredericks. However, the script by Mayo Simon (I had to look twice at that name!) is rather portentous and you may find yourself becoming disengaged from the story. It's the idea and the images that remain. This is like something from Oxford Scientific Films writ large for the big screen. It's not for the popcorn-munching, brain-dead "bring on the action" brigade, but if you're receptive to it, it will stay in your mind for a very long time.
There seems little likelihood of a Region 2 release but Legend Films have done a superb job on the transfer for this R1 edition. It looks and sounds superb technically. So, if you've got a multi-region player, you should hurry up and view this movie - while there's still time!