In a technologically advanced future where robots are servants to humans, a spiky-haired young boy finds out that not only is he not human like he once thought, but that he’s actually one of the most advanced androids ever made. After a power-hungry madman has absconded weaponized robots to fulfill his nefarious purposes, the young mechanical boy goes out on his own, befriends a robotic dog, and with the help of some confidants, discovers that he is the only one with the power to stand a chance against the forces of evil.
But enough about the Mega Man video games. I’m here to talk about the new animated film Astro Boy, based on the well-loved manga/anime series.
First and foremost, the film has an excellent style that, while staying true to many of the character designs from the anime, still manages to find its own vision. It’s a very bright and vibrant film, and it feels like a fully-realized, candy-colored world. It’s an action-packed cartoon and it knows it.
That said, while I really wanted to like this film, there’s some flaws with it. Much like a lot of other animated films, stunt casting was used and not to great effect. Why have big-budget actors like Charlize Theron and Samuel L. Jackson do voices in the film if they’re only going to say three lines? They didn’t contribute anything.
Also, and I hate to say this because I like him, Donald Sutherland doesn’t do a good job. His voice attached to that particular character didn’t mesh well at all, and Sutherland’s heart didn’t seem into it.
I know that Astro Boy is supposed to be a kids film, but the humor, while not potty in nature, still feels juvenile. A lot of the jokes fell flat and didn’t really work. There’s entire groups of characters that serve NO PURPOSE in the film other than to pad it with jokes. Sure, I can tolerate the cute robot dog, but the robo-butler and the members of the Robot Revolution Front just take up space.
Overall, Astro Boy isn’t terrible, but it isn’t the best animated film I, or you, have ever seen. It’s above average, but not by much. It has a lot of good qualities, but not enough to make it great. The action is decent and fun, the plot is okay, and there’s a few touching moments, but walking away from the film, I couldn’t help but think how much better it could have been.
If I were 8-years-old, I’d love the shit out of this movie.
But I’m 28 now, so… yeah.