Astro Boy is a fun sci-fi adventure that will resonate with older fans and win younger viewers.
The origins of the famous character stem all the way back to 1951, where Astro Boy first made his debut as a magna (Japanese comic book) under the pen of Osamu Tezuka. Over the decades subsequent TV cartoon programs made Astro Boy a global hit.
The release of this film, the first proper feature to bear the Astro Boy name, should convert a new generation of young fans to the Astro cause. This is in spite of a never ending and constantly improving slew of animated features all vying for the attentions of the same demographic.
Astro Boy is a traditional origin story set in the future world of Metro City, a floating metropolis which uses robots for all matters of servitude.
A grieving father and top scientist (Nicolas Cage, who thanks to the constraints of voice acting, produces his best performance in a while), creates a robotic replica of his recently deceased son, the final result a super robot with inherit goodness named Astro Boy (voiced with a convincing American accent by young British actor Freddie Highmore).
Spoiling the family reunion is Metro City’s war monger president (Donald Sutherland), who wants Astro Boy’s advanced technology for military purposes.
The film’s deceptively simple computer animation, which respectfully combines the popular look of the 1960s cartoon serial with modern technological touches, will make an impression on the young ones who have seen it all thanks to Pixar’s computer wizardry.
This is especially in regard to several well executed action sequences, that will leave many a child in awe of the heroic exploits of a superhero more in line with their age bracket.
Some themes, however, may go over the little tots’ heads, but will appeal to the older set of Astro fans.
A big one is the topic of robot rights, which is a constant theme that questions whether these mechanical creations should be treated as scrap, or as if they were human.
It is a gnawing question that takes up most of Astro Boy’s time, as he searches for his place in the world, complicating matters when striking up a relationship with a human Earth dweller (Kristen Bell).
Thankfully, writer/director David Bowers combines all of these elements to create an entertaining animation, that while not in the league of its Pixar counterparts (what is?), contains a little something for everybody and introduces a new generation to an old favourite.