Set in futuristic Metro City, Astro Boy is a young robot with incredible powers created by a brilliant scientist named Dr. Tenma. Powered by positive "blue" energy, Astro Boy is endowed with super strength, x-ray vision, unbelievable speed and the ability to fly. Embarking on a journey in search of acceptance, Astro Boy encounters many other colorful characters along the way. Through his adventures, he learns the joys and emotions of being human, and gains the strength to embrace his destiny. Ultimately learning his friends and family are in danger, Astro Boy marshals his awesome super powers and returns to Metro City in a valiant effort to save everything he cares about and to understand what it means to be a hero.
As I've often said, I'm not a big animation guy. I don't wait anxiously for the newest project from Pixar, DreamWorks, Disney, or Robert Zemeckis. It's not that I don't like them, but for some reason I just don't seem to have the attention span to stay focused on them for very long. That being said, Astro Boy did it's very best to keep my attention and succeeded to a much higher degree than others.
I really didn't know what to expect from the director of a movie that's main character is sent reeling down a toilet in Flushed Away. That movie really did get some decent reviews, but still seems to be one of the most forgettable animated films of the decade. Director David Bowers really does deliver when it comes to the action and fun for Astro Boy, though. The movie seems a little bit politically oriented, but it's not enough to annoy you into forgetting what you came to the movie to see - a robot kid who shoots laser blasts out of his butt, laser beams out of his arms, flies using jetpacks in his feet, and blows things up while saving people. Pretty cool stuff.
The voice cast is great and does a terrific job. Everyone sounds like what you envision the animated characters you're looking at would. Freddie Highmore (Charlie and the Chocolate Factory, The Spiderwick Chronicles) does a great job in expressing the human emotions that still seem to somehow resonate through the mechanical body of Astro Boy. Nicolas Cage plays Dr. Tenma, convincingly showing the range of emotions the character goes through when first creating Astro Boy and feeling joyous to the despair of realizing that the robot isn't really his son. The other cast members such as Donald Sutherland, Kristen Bell, Eugene Levy, and Nathan Lane all let their individual voicing talents shine through as well.
My only real problem with the movie is that it's not really challenging or anything new. It just is. It's an animated film that pretty much looks like everything else coming out today and doesn't strive to be anything more visually or creatively. That's not necessarily a bad thing. I'm not saying that it doesn't look visually good. It's not like it looks like that crappy animation they use for Iron Man - Armored Adventures. I just kind of expected an anticipated reboot of a highly popular 57-year old Japanese manga character to be a little bit more "special" and memorable. Maybe sometimes I expect too much.
It still has a good message for the kids and holds their attention. I took my 3-year old to the movie and he absolutely loved it. He sat still through almost the whole thing. That's really saying a lot, believe me. He can barely sit still through a 30-minute episode of The Clone Wars, and he loves Star Wars. As a matter of fact, most of the kids I saw walking out of the theater really seemed to enjoy it. If you're looking for good family entertainment, you can't beat that testament. (Review by Eric Shirey)
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