Wednesday, December 9

Cinema Thirst: Astro Boy (2009) Review

Director: David Bowers
Producer: Maryann Garger
Rating: PG
Starring: Freddie Highmore, Nicholas Cage, Kristen Bell, Donald Sutherland
Running Time: 94 Minutes

Before I start this review, let me says this. I was not a fan of the manga this movie is based on in any way and I have no exposure to the lore or story behind the manga or the anime. My review comes from the perspective of a movie goer, that is all. So if I say something that gets the fanboys chomping at the bits for my flesh, well..Oops.

In my eyes, Astro Boy is a fine example of how American companies don't always screw up something they are trying to remake like they did with Dragonball: Evolution.

Astro Boy tells the story of a man named Dr. Tenma (Nicholas Cage) and his son Toby a.k.a. Astro Boy (Freddie Highmore) and the incident that tears them apart from each other and forces Astro to find his place in the world. When a military weapon goes berserk, Toby is killed during the accident and due to Tenma's grief over the loss of his son, he decides to make another Toby. After Toby has been rebuilt and embedded with the memories of his former self, Tenma begins to feel like he made a mistake and disowns the robot. 

The cast they chose for this movie is very star-studded and almost all of them are good at portraying the characters besides Nicholas Cage. I feel like his character didn't have very much personality to him and a lot of the scenes involving Dr. Tenma lacked a bit of emotion because Cage's voice always seemed to be monotone. Everyone else does a brilliant job however, especially Freddie Highmore who brings a lot of depth to Astro and helps flesh out his personality.

The animation is beautifully done for a movie like this and there is even traces of the Japanese anime roots ingrained into the character animations and environments.

The script was a little lacking I will admit. Many of the lines seemed really forced or just stupid when read out loud in a serious fashion but I was able to look past it and found myself quite amused the entire time.

Keep in mind that this movie is very violent and touches on a lot of mature themes like abandonment so if you're a parent buying this film's upcoming DVD release for your child, be weary of that.

Music is something I would also like to mention. The score for this film was done by composer John Ottman who also did the score for 2006's Superman Returns. One of the things that many adventure movies are lacking these days is a soaring and epic score and thankfully, Ottman delivered with this movie creating both uplifting pieces and somber pieces that really made the movie's depressing moments even more depressing. If this review doesn't make you want to see the movie, then at least check out the film's soundtrack because for any fan of orchestra and symphony, you will not be disappointed.

Back to the movie! I read in a Youtube comment a few days ago that "Astro Boy is this generation's Iron Giant" which is quite a large accomplishment if it were true, which it isn't. The Iron Giant was and always will be one of the best animated movies of all time and while Astro Boy does come close, a few of it's flaws keep it from getting that home run. Kids will love this movie, adults will too.

If you're a stuck up fan of the manga or show, just suck it up. Forget the movie was ever made like I do with the Resident Evil movies and quit your complaining. For people who wish to be exposed to an animation that is far different from mainstream CGI films like Shrek and Madagascar, then definitely check this one out.

In my opinion, Astro Boy is one of 2009's most underrated films. 

8 / 10

12/09/09 Colton West

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