Astro Boy Review: Out Of This World
Imagine waking up one day to discover you were a robot with superpowers. It’s not something you’d broadcast to the nation (well not without a few vodka tonics). Then again, you might fancy instigating a media campaign resulting in the Channel 4 documentary – Made of Metal: The Girl Who Cooks Sausages With Her Eyes.
Either way, it seems Japanese artist Osamu Tezuka was ahead of the times when he created Manga cartoon Astro Boy. First on television in 1963, originally named ‘Tetsuwan Atom’ became iconic in Japan (presumably after the name change). But it wasn’t until last year that director David Bowers decided to take this boy wonder to the big screen.
At a science presentation Dr. Elefun (Bill Nighy) demonstrates blue ‘positive’ and red ‘negative’ energy sources, which when installed into robots can be used for peace or, as General Stone (Donald Sutherland) wishes, for war. However, the experiment takes a horrifying turn when young Toby (Freddie Highmore), who has snuck into the theatre, is destroyed.
Desperate to bring his son back from the dead, Dr. Tenma (Nicolas Cage) re-creates Toby in robotic form using DNA from a lock of hair and the ‘blue’ energy source. But things don’t quite go to plan when he finds out he’s a robot (I sensed this wouldn’t take too long) and realises he has super-powers. This is much to the dismay of Tenma and Stone, the latter attempting to do anything he can to capture Toby’s energy source.
If this wasn’t dramatic enough, Toby finds himself flung out of Metrocity and onto the Earth’s surface, meeting humans and amateur robots who rename him ‘Astro Boy’. Taken in by robot builder Hamegg, he makes friends and a few enemies along the way as he battles evil machinery (we’re not talking staplers, here) and the insatiable Stone.
As well as an action-packed storyline, the film’s moral tone leaves you with deeper questions than, ‘Where can I get an Astro action figure?’ The tale explores themes of technological reliance, the soul and relationships and is as touching as it is gripping.
Exciting, fast-paced and humorous, this piece of animation will be enjoyed by children and adults alike. Those who think otherwise can take their negative energy sources elsewhere – just don’t give them to General Stone.