Friday, October 23, 2009

Review: Astro Boy

Astro Boy (Thanks to Flagship Cinemas for sponsoring this review)

Nicolas Cage, Donald Sutherland, Charlize Theron, Eugene Levy, Kristen Bell, Freddie Highmore, Nathan Lane, Bill Nighy and if you watch closely you will see Samuel L. Jackson's name flash past. He isn't mentioned on the official site, but he is the voice of Zog

Directed by David Bowers

Those of us that remember tv in the 60s may well have grown up on Astro Boy. The quirky Japanese Anime classic. The series was originally Japanese with Japanese dialog. Later it was dubbed and shown as a Saturday morning part of children tv schedule. The plots never interested me, I just was mesmerize by the feet with rockets in them. (oh how I wanted that power! ) I got a chance to see some of these old cartoons a short while ago and was struck how oddball the plots were. I guess not much but dubbing went on.. all that big robot, megalomaniacs and such, seems just plain confusing by today's standards...But as a 6 year old..I sucked up every bit of that black and white goodness.

And so what does the 2009 big screen version have to offer? It might depend more on your age.
The new Astro is in full color, still has the oddly spiked hair and the same black jocky shorts!

We have WAY more back story with this offering. Astro is in reality a robot copy of a dead boy that was the son of Dr. Temma. The world of Astro Boy is a city floating above an Earth laid waste by unending consumerism, and that Earth is populated by urchins living off the waste of the city above. Astro escapes to the world below to escape being shut down and dismantled. Ultimately he is discovered and saves the day by destroying a robot powered by "negative" energy.

Despite the hype and the pg13 rating, this film is for children. Even if you are an anime fan (the animation by the way is far from the espected anime style...none evident, we are served up a very standard animation rendering which was a bit disappointing. ) you would be better served by taking along the youngsters (I know, there are those out there that are saying that it IS a kids movie, which I will agree to, but the marketing is aiming a bit higher) Don't get me wrong, its good animation, as good as anything we have seen in the past few years, but it's paired up with a pretty formularistic plot with all the trappings. Good and bad are black and white, the good guy is alteristic way past what you are lead to believe. This could have been a Disney or Pixar offering and no one would be the wiser.

So my conclusion? If you like animation and especially if you were a fan of the old Astro Boy and want to see a new treatment, give it a go but it might not hurt to see if any children want to see it as well.

Astro Boy official site

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