Featured DVD Review: Antboy
Antboy is a Danish kids movie that came out on limited release earlier in the year. Live action kids movies rarely do well in theaters and this is double so for a limited release. This film wasn't an exception. That said, does it deserve to find an wider audience on the home market? Or was its troubles on the home market warranted?
A note before I get to the review: I think Antboy comes out this week. That's what the people who sent the screener told me, but Amazon.com doesn't have a listing for the DVD and the Video on Demand page says it is unavailable.
We are first introduced to Pelle N°hrmann, who is normal in every way, except for being smaller than the rest of his class. He's normal to the point where people don't notice him, not even the bullies. That part he doesn't mind too much, but Amanda doesn't know who he is, and that hurts. We later see a fellow outcast in his class, Ida, who listens to music while drawing on the faces on her class photo. She also happens to be Amanda's twin sister. After school, while Pelle is sitting on the roof eating an apple, he spots a couple of bullies picking on Wilhelm, the comic book geek. Pelle decides to help out, by hitting one of the bullies with his apple. It's not like they will be able to see him from where he is, so it's foolproof. Except shortly after he throws the apple, Pelle's spotted by a teacher who yells at him, so Pelle has to run for it.
Pelle manages to get away long enough to climb through a hedge and into the yard of the strange lab we saw in the animated opening credits. While hiding, Pelle is bitten by an ant, which causes him to get all dizzy and he falls down. He sees someone, or something, lean over him before he passes out. When he finally gets home, his mother is upset that he's late and didn't call, but all Pelle wants to do is sleep. That is until the middle of the night when he becomes incredible hungry and sleepwalks his way into the kitchen and eats all of the sweets. The next morning, he gets himself stuck to the milk carton when he picks it up. He accidentally shatters his glass of orange juice. Clearly something isn't right with him.
When Pelle gets to school, he bumps into Wilhelm, literally. This is unfortunate, because Wilhelm witnesses Pelle accidentally ripping the handle off of the door. So not only are weird things happening to Pelle, but now someone knows. Later, when he's being bullied by the P.E. teacher, Pelle's super powers exhibit themselves again and now Wilhelm wants to know everything about what happened to Pelle. Wilhelm is convinced he's a super hero.
At this point, we see something that is a bit of a spoiler, so I will avoid it for now.
After Pelle's powers manifest themselves again, he turns to Wilhelm to help him learn more. A montage or two later, Pelle has become Antboy! Soon, the super hero is getting the attention of the news. Unfortunately, this attention starts to go to his head and soon there's a rift between the two friends. Wilhelm thinks Pelle is only doing the rescues that will make him more popular, which is not how super heroes should act. However, when Amanda is kidnapped by a super villain, The Flea, and Ida comes to Antboy for help, he has the chance to prove he is a real super hero.
As far as super hero movies for kids are concerned, Antboy is actually pretty good. It's not what you would call original or unexpected. The plot deals a lot with friendship, reaching your potential, being yourself, etc. It's the usual morals for movies aimed at this age group. Then again, these are great morals to teach kids. The film looks better than expected. It's a small Danish film, not a big Hollywood production, but it doesn't look cheap. There are a few scenes that felt staged in a particular way to avoid showing too many expensive special effects, but that's not the same as looking cheap. The acting is better than expected, including the dubbing. (There's no option for subtitles, which is a shame. On the other hand, I'm not really surprised, as the target audience isn't exactly known for their interest in subtitled films.) All four of the main child actors do a good job in their roles, even if Amanda, for instance, is an underwritten character. Maybe there will be more character development in the sequel.
There are no extras on the DVD.
I didn't have high expectations for Antboy; after all, most live action kids movies are pretty bad. That said, it was better than expected and entertaining enough that I think most kids will enjoy it. The DVD doesn't have any extras, so I wouldn't pay more than $13 or so for it. But the Video on Demand is worth checking, if it is finally available.
- Submitted by: C.S.Strowbridge
Date posted: 2014-07-21