In an era where Marvel and DC will be releasing close to thirty films in the next six years, it is understandable that the mere prospect of seeking out yet another superhero film might cause audiences to cringing. Considering the glut of films that already exist, it is getting increasingly difficult for films not affiliated with the two comic book giants to leave their mark in the genre. This is the case with Antboy, a Danish tale that offers little in the way of innovative ideas, but still manages to entertain in its own right.
Playing like a pre-teen version of Spider-Man, Antboy tells the tale of young lad who is tired of being “normal”. Feeling as if he is invisible at school, 12 year-old Pelle (Oscar Dietz) keeps to himself while secretly pining for the popular Amanda (Cecilie Alstrup Tarp). While evading school bullies one day, Pelle is bitten by a genetically altered ant and is given superpowers. Discovering he has increased strength, and an insatiable urge to consume sugar, Pelle assumes the identity of Antboy, a costume clad hero determined to help those in need.
Of course every good superhero needs an adequate villain to flex his muscles against. Enter the Flea (Nicolas Bro), a former scientist who has a personal vendetta against Amanda’s father. When the Flea takes Amanda hostage for ransom, Antboy’s heroism is put to the test. Aided by his comic book loving classmate Wilhelm (Samuel Ting Graf), who teaches him everything he needs to know about superheroes, and Amanda’s sister Ida (Amalie Kruse Jensen), Antboy attempts to save Amanda while learning a valuable lesson about what truly makes a hero super in the process.
While some adults will roll their eyes at the familiar tropes that Antboy, almost to a fault, clings to, the film will play well to the “tween” generation. Really, what kid is not going to love a superhero whose source of fuel is sugar and has the ability to urinate acid? Unlike most superhero tale, Ask Hasselbalch’s film never tries to be more than what it is. There is no social commentary or allegories to recent events. Instead it is merely content with catering to the demographic it is designed for. Anchored by Oscar Dietz’s delightful performance, and featuring surprisingly crisp cinematography, by the film’s true unsung hero cinematographer Niels Reedtz Johansen, Antboy is a film whose charms outweigh its conventions.
Antboy is currently streaming on Netflix in both Canada and the U.S.