Perhaps cleansing myself from the dread feeling I had with my previous film experience with “Halloween II,” I kinda enjoyed “Astro Boy.” Its light tone, totally family friendly, and a typical young boy adventure might not appeal much and indeed, I found that the film was too quick in explaining its interesting story elements and infested heavily with bright colored action sequences instead. But as a fun family animation entertainment go, and as far as its target audience concerned, this film works really well.
Originally created by Osamu Tezuka, I remember “Astro Boy” when I was a kid. Attracted to it by first its unique design but quickly overwhelmed by its rather emotional content. Astro was intended to be more than just a robot and at the time, I could feel it, and who knows? I might’ve been cried at the time, though I don’t really remember.
The film more or less follows the origin story when Dr.Tenma’s experiment on blue core, a pure positive energy and its counterpart red core, a pure negative energy led to his son, Toby’s death. Sad and guilty, Dr.Tenma spent many days creating his masterpiece, a boy robot, fueled by blue core in resemblance of his son with memories – extracted from his son’s DNA – intact. Dr.Tenma treated the robot as if it was his son. For a while until he just can’t deny the fact that his son was already dead, and no robot however look a like, could ever replace him. Meanwhile, the president of Metro City, greed with power, wants the blue core and more than willing to go any length to capture the robot boy including using the red core to fuel his own destructo-robo, Peacekeeper.
Questions are bound to arise like for instance, why does Toby (as a robot) didn’t have any suspicion when he has rocket protruding from his shoe and able to dig his way through dense rocky mountain? Or his first reaction when he discovers that he is actually a robot and yet never really wonders why? Or what had happened to his previous protein-based self? Thankfully, the film never lets its audience lingers for too long. Whenever the film starts to contemplate, presented itself with an opportunity for its audience to discover the flaws, the bright and colorful action scenes retakes control. Probably compensates for its target audiences’ known short-attentive span. But hey, if you’ve ever heard of “Astro Boy” at all, seen its poster and probably its trailer, you’ll know exactly where the film’s direction is going and it doesn’t gave it any justice to merely rebranding it as you know, “if you’re a fan you’re going to be disappointed.” This film intended for a younger audiences and family with young kids’ quality time and judged by last night’s relatively quiet theater even if I saw kids all around, it means that most of these kids didn’t even feel bored enough to bother their mommies and other audiences (me). So, it’s a good thing.
My rating: ** / **** Astro Boy is a family friendly animation and even if it has no 3D gimmicks, nobody would miss it, because it’s fun and knows exactly what its target audiences are and played it safe. Very very safe.