Directed by David Bowers
Starring the voices of Freddie Highmore, Bill Nighy, Donald Sutherland, Eugene Levy, Kristen Bell, Nathan Lane, Charlize Theron, and Nicholas Cage as Dr. Tenma.
I was really jazzed for Astro Boy. I loved the cartoon when I was a kid. The end credit song always brought a tinge of sadness, as it meant it was 8AM and time to go to school. I’ve been reading about a possible movie version for as long as I’ve been following movie news online. And when the trailers came out, and the film looked like nothing special, I was still cautiously optimistic, as Astro was being brought to the big screen by Imagi Studios, the new upstart animation studio that brought us the computer animated Ninja Turtles. Their first time at-bat was a home run, so I was ready to see Imagi make it 2 for 2.
In the future, the utopian Metro City floats above the clouds of Earth. This technologically advance city is a virtual paradise, where robots wait on humans hand and foot. The only problem is it’s governed by the warmongering President Stone. Stone has had his top minds in the ministry of science develop the Peacemaker, one of the most advanced robotic soldiers ever created. However, there is an accident when they try out the Peacemaker, and Toby, the son of science minister Dr. Tenma, is driven mad with grief. In his grief, Tenma tries to bring his son back to life by building a robot duplicate of his son. But, this robot soon becomes simply a painful reminder of what Tenma has lost, and Tenma casts this robot boy into the world. Adopting the new name Astro, the robot boy sets out to Earth to find his place. However, Tenma built this robot with some highly advanced weaponry, and President Stone will stop at nothing until Astro is found and made a soldier. Where does Astro’s destiny lie?
What I Liked
The voice acting is really top-notch. Everyone really did a good job with their characters. I really liked the score, too. The composer is John Ottman, and his music was highly reminiscent of his Fantastic Four score. There’s a lot more jokes in it than the Astro Boy I remember, but some of the gags are quite clever.
What I Didn’t Like
This movie borrowed quite a bit from other science-fiction movies as of late that dealt with robots. I could see WALL-E and A.I.‘s fingerprints all over it. Astro finding his place in the world and the racism he encounters could have made for a much more introspective movie, but most of it seems to be glossed over. The film is also a lot more jokey and tongue-in-cheek than what I remember of the cartoon. The animation isn’t as nearly technically perfect as Pixar. And the ending was just a little too…Powerpuff Girls.
This is by no means a great film, but it pushed enough of the right buttons for me to find it satisfying.