Thanks for checking out our Astro Boy review. If you’d like to see a video version of our Astro Boy review you can watch it at the bottom of the written review below.
Like “Speed Racer” before it, Astro Boy was destined to bomb at the box office. Like Speed Racer, a semi-recognizable name that is too far removed from its days of popularity to the point that it lacked enough of a built in audience. Still, that doesn’t mean that the movie itself can’t be good (Speed Racer wasn’t). So off I went to see Astro Boy and I was very surprised by how strongly it started… but not so surprised about how it all went downhill from there.
THE GENERAL IDEA
The synopsis for Astro Boy reads something like this: “Set in futuristic Metro City, Astro Boy is about a young robot with incredible powers created by a brilliant scientist in the image of the son he has lost. Unable to fulfill the grieving man’s expectations, our hero embarks on a journey in search of acceptance, experiencing betrayal and a netherworld of robot gladiators, before he returns to save Metro City and reconcile with the father who had rejected him.”
Without question the very best thing about Astro Boy was the hard hitting, and rather dark, first act that introduced us to the story. It was NOT what I was expecting. We are introduced to the brilliant scientist Dr. Tenma (voiced by Nic Cage) and his his bright excitable son. Being a kids film, I expected some sort of accident to happen where Dr. Tenma had to turn his son into a robot/cyborg in order to save his life and thus turn him INTO Astro Boy. What the film gave us was much darker. The son dies, and in his grief Dr. Tenma creates a Robot in his son’s image to replace him. He gives the robot all the weaponry and defenses science has conceived of to make sure nothing ever happend to this version of his son like it did to the last one. The emotional depth if this was surprisingly effective, and it got even better as the doctor realizes the robot does not replace his son, and only serves to remind him of what he lost… leading to him rejecting the robot (Astro Boy). This whole component, in my opinion, was handled brilliantly and gave the rest of the movie a solid base to launch from.
Some of the action in the film was quite visually appealing from both the perspectives of animation and cinematography. Those elements help the film become something quite pleasant to look at… if there was no sound… but unfortunately there was. Which leads us too…
After the effective first act, the film just spirals out of control to become the cheesy, cliche riddled, unfunny, uninteresting, ineffective piece of cinematic drivel we all feared it would be.
One of my pet peeves in movies are useless characters. Characters who serve no function other that to take up valuable screen time and whose presence would not be missed in the slightest if they were to suddenly disappear. There are a group of these characters called the Robot Revolutionary Front. A small group of three robots dedicated to freeing robots from human enslavement. They don’t… do… ANYTHING. Their actions and presence have absolutely no effect, positively or negatively on the story or the path of the film. The movie itself acknowleges this at the end when Astro looks to them and say “Thanks for everything” to which the robots respond “well… I guess we didn’t actually DO anything”. So true… so true. If you’re going to have useless characters taking up screen time… at least make them funny or entertaining is SOME way. These things weren’t.
I need to do an editorial post about this later… but WHY DO THESE ANIMATED MOVIES FEEL THE NEED TO USE ALL HIGH PROFILE ACTORS FOR THE VOICE ROLES?!?!?! It’s stupid. The only voice that remotely worked was that of Bill Nighy who voices Dr. Tenma’s best friend. All the other voices were flat, emotionless and usually distracting. What ever happened to using… you know… trained VOICE actors for these movies? But I’ll go into that in another post later.
Astro Boy stars off with a bang, but then echoes out into an android like whimper. Clearly little to no thought was put into this movie other than “Hey, let’s do an Astro Boy movie”. No good humor, no interesting characters, no story and a completely wasted fantastic introduction leaves this film wanting. Because of how effective I thought the first act was, I’ll go so far as to give Astro Boy a 4.5 out of 10.
You can see our video Astro Boy Review below: