I saw the Danish trailer for this movie last year and to my amazement, it was actually given a home video release here in the US and I happened to find it here through Redbox (and you can see if Antboy at Redbox is available near you) though the US distribution almost completely erases any mention of the fact that this is a Danish movie, filmed in Danish, and dubbed in English without even the option to watch in the original language with subtitles. Aside from that, I thought it was a fun family superhero movie that followed several superhero movie conventions while also bucking a couple of them. There are some fun little flourishes and it rarely takes itself seriously. I mean, what do you expect from a movie called Antboy? It’s interesting to see what slight differences pop up when it comes from Denmark, though there are surprisingly few things that aren’t really relatable as an American audience. I absolutely enjoyed it for what it was.
The movie follows the origin story of a young boy named Pelle, he’s not a popular kid, he’s not a nerd that gets bullied, he’s more like the invisible kid that no one notices and everyone mispronounces his name as Pell, ignoring the accent on the final “e”. In fact, one of the things that I really liked about the opening of the movie was when Pelle saved the nerd from the bullies who turned their attention to Pelle himself, he actually seemed excited rather than terrified that the bullies were chasing him. Pelle gets his powers soon after through a bite from a special breed of ant, even though it’s not clearly explained to the audience until much later into the movie. There’s the standard comic book nerd Wilhelm, the one that Pelle saved earlier who sees the start of Pelle’s powers and helps him craft a superhero identity. It does bug me a bit that this movie goes through the standard homemade costume montage before finally ending up with a finely crafted, big budget studio superhero costume. In fact, if the IMDB trivia is to be believed, this was the most expensive costume ever made for a Danish production. There’s also the glamorous girl that Pelle is in love with, but she only cares about Antboy. And on top of everything else, the one supervillain who calls himself the Flea was also the one ultimately behind the and that created Antboy and also has a connection to Pelle’s dream girl.
I don’t often discuss a movie’s dub since I rarely tackle foreign films, but I do have to say that the dub for this movie is passable but that’s about it. The movie is quite obviously marketed as a family film and I understand that, and even though I would have still chosen the dubbed option, I really wish there was the original language option available. As far as the look and feel of the movie, I could tell that it was a lower budget when compared to an American studio movie, but what they had was well utilized and made for a nice looking movie, especially for the costume of both Antboy and the Flea, there is one moment where Antboy is captured in a glass cage that almost looks like something pulled out of a horror movie. There’s also a great moment towards the end where the final clash between the hero and the villain comes to a head with a very anime style split screen with their heads and a panel of quickly flowing color streaks. In fact there are a few times throughout the movie where it turns into a brief comic book style animated segment. I also found it interesting how much the movie referenced American comic book characters from Marvel and DC, including a great moment of listing through many different superhero names after excluding the name Ant-Man because he already exists. Though because of licensing rights, there isn’t any Marvel or DC comics or action figures that show up in the movie, I did think it was interesting that there were several notable Hellboy figures placed in the background alongside the overly generic comic book and action figures.
While this movie does follow a fairly standard superhero origin story, the handful of places where it bucks the trend are the things that I appreciate the most. Like the moment where Antboy turns away from being a superhero and his friend takes up the mantle to go after the villain. Ok, that’s not an entirely original moment either, but it is a much less often used one. And I also enjoyed how at the end, when he does save his dream girl and she wants to reward him with a kiss, he becomes nervous and unwilling to accept it, but it turns out that it’s not just because he’s such a young boy, but it’s because he fell for her less conventionally attractive twin sister Ida who helped him through the latter half of the movie and easily figured out his “secret” identity. I also liked the quick joke where Wilhelm is referring to Lex Luthor and mentions that Ida probably doesn’t know who they are talking about when she retorts that she knows who he is. All in all, I did enjoy the movie, there was quite a bit of childish humor, especially the fact that one of Antboy’s ant powers is that he has acid urine. It’s nothing too special, but if you’re curious it’s worth a rent or a stream. Until next time, this has been Bubbawheat for Flights, Tights, and Movie Nights.