The Danish superhero adventure film, Antboy (2013), arrives on DVD from Cinedigm on July 22, 2014. The film follows 12-year-old Pelle, a friendless boy of no particular note who finds a pathway to popularity after he is bitten by an ant and develops superpowers. With the help of the school’s comic book geek and what I suppose you’d call the Danish version of a goth chick, Pelle becomes the local superhero sensation Antboy and eventually faces off against the villainous Flea—a grotesque baddie whose strength comes from the drinking of blood.
While incredibly short at a mere 77 minutes long, Antboy packs a lot of charm and excitement into that short running time. I watched it with my wife and son and, though it is ostensibly a children’s film, I can tell you that we all had a great deal of fun watching it. In particular, its fast pace, cartoonish action, and occasional humor kept my son thoroughly enthused throughout. He found it especially amazing when Pelle discovers he’s inherited the ants’ acidic urine and uses this ability to break into the Flea’s lair by peeing on a padlock. It’s a film I imagine we’ll be revisiting time and again as my son gets older, given that it’s a rather safe and uncomplicated superhero flick, but I honestly don’t think it’s one I’ll watch again without my son present. However, that has nothing to do with the film itself, which I quite enjoyed for all its quaintness, and everything to do with problems I have with the North American release of the picture.
Though the film was shot in the Danish language, the Cinedigm release exclusively features the English dub of the film. While I concede that it’s unlikely the target audience for Antboy would be eager to view it with subtitles, not everyone with a keen interest in superheroes is a child. Take, for example, this article’s author. Watching the film with my son, who’s not yet three, I admit I was thankful for the dub, as it meant I didn’t have to explain every little thing that was happening on the screen to him. However, it’s not unfeasible that I, as someone who’s written a great deal about superhero movies, would return to the film at a later date to examine it more closely for some other project. It’s also not unfeasible that I would simply decide to revisit it randomly for the entertainment’s sake… except for the fact that I’m not about to watch a live action film dubbed.
Making matters worse, the dub itself is rather frustrating, and not just because characters’ names seem to be pronounced differently all the time. At times the dubbing is actually surprisingly unnoticeable, while at others, there are alternative wordings of lines that would obviously have synched far better with the actors’ mouths. But then, I suppose it’s a waste of time to nitpick a dub when I’ve already declared dubbed material something to be avoided, eh?
Still, it surely would have been worth the DVD producers’ time to provide viewers with at least the option of viewing it with the original audio and subtitles (even if they only offered dubtitles). It would have shown respect for the audience and the film both. After all, it doesn’t evidence a great deal of faith in Antboy’s staying power if the DVD’s producers assume only viewers incapable of handling foreign films would watch it, does it?