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Astro Boy (2009) Movie Review

October 24, 2009

I tend to watch new release children’s movies with the hopes that they will offer the action-packed fun time that Hollywood can’t seem to offer much anymore.  Of course I always find myself disappointed when everything is dumbed down and made to reach the young audience.  “Astro Boy” is loosely based upon the original Manga of the same name although I suspect that the only faithful portion is the creation story.  At the beginning of the movie, we see a young boy who follows his father, Dr. Tenma, to the lab and is killed in an experiment gone bad.  Naturally, Dr. Tenma loses his mind and decides to build a high-tech replacement for his now-lost son.  While this might have been sufficient to bring in some crazy plot to take over the city and use Astro Boy as the hero to save the day, the writers had something more boring in mind.  Astro quickly finds himself in the slums where he becomes close to a group of orphan children who like to scavenge robots for a reject scientist.  Most of the story revolves around power-hungry adults who have no respect for life and it is up to young Astro to show some humanity and save the day.  Somehow I found myself emotionally attached to Astro in the end, but I’m not really sure how.

The voice acting in the movie is serviceable at best.  None of the actors really stick out in their roles or sound especially into their work.  The soundtrack, composed by John Ottman, is equally serviceable as many have come to expect.  The music is purely orchestral and gives the movie its epic feel but lacks any truly memorable themes.  “Astro Boy” is advertised like an action flick but has only minor amounts of action.  Most of the time is spent on developing the largely unoriginal and forgettable plot.  The movie certainly looks nice enough, thanks to some anime-styled CGI work.  However, most of the cast has that ugly Cartoon Network look to them, in stark contrast to Astro’s faithful Japanese-style look.  “Astro Boy” fails to deliver the quality tale it could have and ends up a disappointing children’s tale that even the children might be able to predict.


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