Astro Boy

So, for me this picture had two things going against it before I went to see it. First, I don’t care for anime. Second, I didn’t know the backstory. Who is Astro Boy and what does he do? I don’t know.
Astro Boy
I’ve always been an animation fan; as a child, as an adolescent, as a teen ager, and even now. But I never liked anime from the first time it came on TV back in the ‘60s. I remember one show about a lion, I think it was called Kimba. No thanks. The other one I remember was Speed Racer. At that time I was still driving quarter-midgets or half-midgets and so I was serious about racing. Speed Racer made me want to puke. I hated it.

Well, fortunately this computer generated film didn’t really have much of the look of anime except for Astro Boy, (Toby), and a few other characters. But it was much more subtle. So I was able to get by that. Although, Astro Boy’s spiked hair bothered me a bit. Especially as it changed from side to side in different shots. Maybe that’s an anime thing. So the lack of the hard core anime look was good for me but may not work for fans of the original show.

And the backstory was no problem either. Like most super-hero movies the first 20 or 30 minutes gives you that and the rest of the story takes off from there. I’m at a disadvantage not having been familiar with Astro Boy before I went to see the movie. Bree says, it’s like, one of the oldest anime characters around. But all I have to go on is the movie itself. But while it had a story it also appears to be the setup for more. And since they have already modeled all the characters and sets I could see this coming to TV as a series on Nickelodeon like Jimmy Neutron. Yes, I know, Jimmy Neutron was on TV first. But so was Astro Boy, but as cell animation.

This was a fun film after you get past a couple of “statements” it seems the film makers had to make. One is driven home by the fact that it takes place on a chunk of earth orbiting our planet after humans have polluted it and made it uninhabitable. A tired premiss for sure but a popular bandwagon to be on these days. We have no right to destroy God’s planet but if you aren’t going to offer any positive alternatives leave it for science class or some kind of public debate not a kid’s show that is meant to entertain. The other is the idea that politicians will do anything to get and keep power including starting wars. Don’t get me wrong, most politicians rate up there with sleazy used car salesman in my book. Not all, but most. I just don’t see how that helps tell a kid’s story.

I guess the movie is about Astro Boy discovering who he is and what his place in this world is. The answer sort of comes near the end but it was kind of weak. For the most part I think I enjoyed the animation, which is getting so good these days that nothing really amazes me any more, and the lighter side of the story. Humans versus robots, another tired theme, but with a twist that I won’t reveal for those who, like me, are unfamiliar with Astro Boy. It seems that kids of all ages should be able to just enjoy this as a cartoon and fun family entertainment.

So if your tastes run along the same lines as mine I don’t think you’ll come away thinking you’ve wasted your money.

3 and a half Monkeys

Jim

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