Review: ‘Antboy’ packs power into a pint-sized superhero tale

Oscar Dietz stars as Antboy/Pelle in "Antboy."
(Rolf konow/Nimbus Film)

Take off your thinking cap and simply enjoy the mini-pleasures of “Antboy.” This fantastical story of 12-year-old Pelle (Oscar Dietz), who goes from zero to superhero after being bitten by a genetically modified ant, should delight kids and adults alike.

The film — a Danish import that has been wisely, if not quite seamlessly, dubbed into English to accommodate younger viewers — starts with the unpopular Pelle considering himself more “invisible man” than nerd. (That latter distinction is saved for bespectacled comic-book fan Wilhelm, played by Samuel Ting Graf.) Even Pelle’s distracted parents barely seem to acknowledge him.

But Pelle’s wish for recognition comes true after said insect bite endows him with ant-like abilities and super strength. With a sartorial assist from the eager Wilhelm, crime-fighter Antboy is born. Picture Spider-Man’s little cousin, once removed.

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Fueled by sugar, Antboy is soon scaling walls, catching robbers, chewing through chains and destroying urinals with his hyper-acidic, er, fluidity. The masked conqueror becomes a media sensation and tween heartthrob while also inspiring “Antboy: the Musical.”

But when The Flea (Nicolas Bro), a super-villain with a super-grudge, kidnaps Amanda (Cecilie Alstrup Tarp), a CEO’s daughter and the object of Pelle’s affection, Antboy is put to the ultimate test. Sidekicks Wilhelm and Ida (Amanda’s grumpy sister, played by Amalie Kruse Jensen) join the rescue.

Zippily directed by Ask Hasselbalch from a script by Anders Ølholm (based on the book series by Kenneth Bøgh Andersen), “Antboy” is peppered with fun, cleverly shot and edited action bits as well as apropos comic-book style visuals. But it’s the film’s well-wrought themes of friendship, self-esteem and responsibility that give this little adventure its ultimate power.



MPAA rating: PG for action, language and mild rude humor; in English, dubbed from Danish

Running time: 1 hour, 16 minutes


Playing: At AMC Burbank Town Center 8; AMC Atlantic Times Square 14, Monterey Park