Antboy: Revenge of the Red Fury
Antboy: Revenge of the Red Fury 2014
I’m still moving through my Netflix queue of superhero movies I haven’t reviewed yet and I was a little surprised to see this film on the list, especially since it did actually include the original Danish language track on it. I remember the first time I watched the first Antboy, English was the only available option that I could find. I still watched most of it in dubbed English, though I was able to switch partway through when my daughter and wife weren’t interested in watching the film along with me. This sequel picks up more or less where the first film left off, it brings back almost all of the major characters except for Ida’s sister. It also completely eschews adults in favor of the young characters. In fact, the only real adult in this film is the villain the Flea, not even Antboy’s parents get a moment of acknowledgement.
Now that the origin story is out of the way, Antboy 2 does what a lot of superhero sequels do: it improves. Without having to spend a lot of time setting up who these characters are and how they got their powers, it doesn’t waste any time before getting straight into the story. It also gets straight into the action with one of the surprisingly few action scenes where Antboy takes out a few hockey punks who are picking on the shy, mousy girl Maria. She just so happens to be a big fan of Antboy and ends up asking him to the upcoming school dance. Where this movie really helps sell the kid hero aspect of the story is when it actually takes the time to show the audience that these are still kids and have to deal with school age relationships. There is a bit of a love quadrangle going on where Antboy’s alter ego Pelle still likes Ida. But now there’s a new kid in school, Christian who has the hots for Ida. He’s basically a caricature of a hipster vegan. He wears faux-wool clothing made from plants, a knit cap, a scarf, and eats Kale chips. He plays the guitar and mixes rave music. Meanwhile Pelle feels invisible towards Ida now that Christian is in the picture, yet he also ignores Maria who has the crush on Antboy as he chooses to try to get Ida at the dance rather than honor his commitment to Maria.
Meanwhile, Maria’s father is working on an invisibility suit, rather unsuccessfully. And if you’ve ever read any comic book you can see where this is going. The suit eventually works after her father gives up on it, but Maria keeps it and tailors it to herself to get revenge on Antboy as well as Pelle. She quickly learns his secret identity and makes the connection that he was at the dance, he just didn’t want to be with her. Pelle and his friend/sidekick Wilhelm initially think that she is a ghost, specifically a fury, hence the name. But she isn’t the only villain in the movie since you can’t get too far with a villain the just can’t be seen. Enter the Terror Twins, two teenage hoodlums who break into the Flea’s old house while he’s still in jail and find yet another special insect that has amazingly managed to survive several months in a jar. They are both bitten by the stag beetle, but are generally the weakest part of the film. It wisely doesn’t spend too much time developing the Terror Twins. Instead, they are presented almost more as just comic relief since they are all brawn and little brains. Red Fury initially convinces them that she is the ghost of the Flea’s mother in order to get them to follow her orders. And the worst that one of them does is basically just get his head stuck in a refrigerator.
The effects in the film are generally simple, but effective. The entire effects surrounding the Red Fury’s invisibility look and sound great. Since it is prototype tech from an amateur inventor it’s not a smooth and sleek transition, but instead there’s plenty of buzzing and sparking that looks and sound rather fantastic. Surprisingly there is never a moment where the suit actually fails at an inopportune time, instead it’s the human connection that ends up getting through to the Red Fury, and there’s once again a moment where Antboy has to rely on his non-powered friends to help save the day. But even with more than one villain, including several moments with the Flea still in prison in a very Hannibal Lector-esque way, the movie manages to keep things pared down to the essentials. It’s all about Antboy and his relationships. Or more accurately the lack thereof. He pines for Ida but generally lacks the courage to actually ask her out, and as Maria pines for Antboy he also lacks the courage to let her down gently.
Antboy 2 managed something rather impressive. While the first film definitely felt like a kid’s film aimed specifically towards children, this film still managed to feel like it was aimed towards kids, but at the same time it didn’t feel like a kid’s film. Everything about this film felt like it would be relatable from a kid’s perspective, and yet it never felt like it was talking down to the audience, or oversimplifying things. And after I watched this I saw that there is actually a trailer for Antboy 3 coming out sometime next year with all the same cast. I’m looking forward to watching that one as well and I think that if this continues it could be a great superhero film series that follows these kids into their adulthood as superheroes in a similar way that Harry Potter did for a wizard fantasy. Until next time, this has been Bubbawheat for Flights, Tights, and Movie Nights.