22 February 2011

OMENS: Astro Boy

Astro Boy

Featuring the voices of Freddie Highmore, Kristen Bell, Nathan Lane, Eugene Levy, Matt Lucas, Bill Nighy, Donald Sutherland, Charlize Theron, Nicolas Cage, Sterling Beaumon
Written by Timothy Harris & David Bowers
Directed by David Bowers
Release: 10 October 2009
Summit Entertainment, 94 mins., Rated PG

Plot: Unable to deal with the loss of his son Toby, Dr. Tenma creates a robot in his sons image, complete with memories, but realizing what he has done, rejects his creation and disowns him/it.

ASTRO BOY tries to be a lot more than just a family friend movie about a robot with a conscious. There’s environmentalism (not as extreme as WALL-E, to be sure), political maneuvering, dealing with death (the loss of a child), the loneliness of being orphaned, and robot rights. And then, of course, there’s a super epic awesome robot battle when Astro Boy fights this MEGA sized robomonster that involves a lot of blown-to-bits buildings and MEGA damage! So it’s all cool.

The movie can have its messages – after all, the key demograph isn’t really privy to those aspects of the film and it’s not like it’s so heavy handed they become detrimental to the overall enjoyment factor. But the monster movie fan geek in me was just about having a MEGA geekgasm during the final 15 minute battle royale on Cloud City – er, I mean Metro City. That was some truly epic stuff, ladies and gents. Absolutely one of the coolest giant sized fight scenes I’ve seen in a long while, far surpassing MONSTERS VS. ALIENS. I can only imagine how stunning that would look on Blu-Ray. Cue salivation.

As for the film itself, giant robo fights aside, it’s your standard kid fare. I mean, take HOW TO TRAIN YOUR DRAGON and substitute dragons for robots. A bit of a stretch, but watch the two movies and you’ll see the similarities, all the way down to Astro finding himself a female friend who has a uncannily resemblance to Hiccup’s girlyfriend. So in general, ASTRO BOY doesn’t offer much in the way of originality (awesome robo fight scene!!!), therefore determining the watch factor depends on how it is executed.

Very well done. The animation is solid. Unique in its own right (done by the studio who animated TMNT), not a carbon copy of DreamWorks or Pixar, the style pays homage to the original Japanese animated series, embraces it, and uses the state-of-the-art digital effects to their disposal, making the movements fluid, laser blasts, battles and the works flawless. Really quite good work. Animation aside, the script does elicit a few giggle-worthy moments, mostly dealing with the robot dog Trashcan, who is instantly adorable and makes you want one ASAP.

Featuring a stellar list of voice actors, I’ll confess it was a bit distracting to hear Big Daddy and Davvy Jones taking part in a children s film. It’s instances like these where I can’t become engrossed in the flick and instead just seeing Nicholas Cage smoking a joint in his living room recording his material off the couch, script in hand.

ASTRO BOY was a helluva lot of fun, and definitely worth Instant Streaming if you have the time. Not the bestest kids movie in recent years, but it has heart, and it has style. And besides: MEGA robot battle in Metro City!!!

Netflix Rating: Liked It

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