Astro Boy

UK Distributor:
  Summit Entertainment

BBFC Certificate:

Running Time:
  95 minutes (approx.)

David Bowers

Audio for screening:

Release Date:  8th February 2010

  Matt Dark

Astro Boy, one of the oldest manga titles around today, created by Osamu Tezuka, the 'godfather of anime'.  With many anime and manga titles being given the movie treatment, is this classic ready to hit the big screen? 

In the distant future, after the world has become polluted.  The Earths greatest scientists decided to remove their home, Metro City, from the earth itself, turning it into a floating Metropolis, full of people able to live happily, all while cared for by robots that they have created through advanced technology, thanks to the Ministry of Science.

The Ministries top scientists, Dr. Tenma and Dr. Elefun, have finished creating a new type of energy source, the Blue Core energy, a self-sustained power supply that could change things on earth.  Unfortunately, President Stone decides to use the Blue energies by-product, the corrupt Red Core energy, to test a new military robot, which causes it to go

berserk.  As they try to stop the robot, Dr. Tenma’s son, Toby, is trapped with it, but before he can be saved, everything in with the robot is vaporised.

In an attempt to forgive himself, Dr. Tenma decides to recreate his son as a robot.  Creating it in his exact likeness and giving it Toby’s memories, before using the Blue Core energy to give it life.  But despite the new Toby being just like his son, Tenma cannot accept him, and decides the best thing to do it have Toby deactivated.

Unable to deal with the fact he is a robot, and that his own father doesn’t love him, Toby runs away, and ends up on the Earth's surface.  Where he meets some interesting people, such as the RRF (Robots Revolutionary Front) who give him the name Astro, and a band of orphans who search for robot-parts for their carer, Hamegg, who works to repair them. 

But it isn’t all as it seems, as Hamegg is quick to learn the truth about Astro, and decides to pit him against other robots in an arena.  And at the same time, President Stone has used the Red Core energy on his new robot once again, in order to track down Astro and the Blue Core, but with fierce consequences.  It will  be up to Astro to accept who and what he is to save the day, and his family.

In all, the story does well to keep a lot of the main points from the original story of Astro Boy, how he was created and how his father couldn't accept him.  Also, while some characters are changed slightly, such as Hamegg, who has been turned from a villainous circus ring-leader, to an outcast who builds robots to fight each other.  These changes seem to made largely to make the film a friendlier one, so that it could be made much more accessible to kids.

My only complaint was the RRF, these characters seemed to have been built purely as a comic front to get some quick laughs for the kids.  Their plans to defeat Hamegg, without breaking their robotic law, do not harm humans, comes off as something straight out of the Looney Tunes cartoons.

The film itself looks nice.  Made in 3D, the movie may not look as good as other titles out there from companies such as Pixar or Dreamworks, but it certainly holds up on its own, Metro City is a bustling metropolis, full of clean, bright colours, while the earth itself is quite dirty, generally shown as rusted and decaying, to show off the image that the surface is polluted.

The voice work was pretty impressive too; there are many notable mentions throughout the film, including the likes of Bill Nighy, Donald Sutherland and Nathan Lane, there's even a brief moment where Samuel L Jackson lends his voice to the movie (though you wouldn’t realise it, until you see the character he is listed as providing the voice for). 

The only complaint I had was probably Nicholas Cage, as monotonous as he can be, he sounded bored for most of his lines, which is a shame when he is the only one that the film-makers decided to tell you who he was playing (Dr. Tenma) in the posters for the movie, along with the opening credits.

Astro Boy is a family friendly film, and a nice way to bring an old series back to life.  It does a better job then other recent films at being close to the source material, while also being an enjoyable film.  It's almost perfect for me, with my only real downer being the overly obvious attempt at some quick laughs for the kids (The RRF). 

But that aside, I think it does a worthy job of bringing an anime to the big screen. 




Feature:   Extras: n/a


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