Movie Review: Astro Boy (Nicholas Cage, Nathan Lane, Freddie Highmore) 2009

Posted: November 21, 2012 in Animation, Drama
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Toby (Highmore) is the fantastically intelligent son of a scientist named Tenma (Cage).They live in a city called Metro City, which was lifted high above the now uninhabitable Earth.  Robots do everything for humans in Merto City and when humans are finished with the robots , they are dumped on the surface below.   Tenma is working with a scientist named Elfun (Bill Nighy) on harnessing energy from a new source called blue matter.  President Stone (Donald Sutherland) wants to use the blue matter to put into his “Peacemaker” to wage war with the surface dwellers.  A horrific accident in the lab involving the blue matter with the highly unstable red matter leaves Toby dead, and Tenma shattered.  A distraught Tenma attempts to build a robot infused with his son’s memories.  He is successful, but instead of alleviating Tenma’s grief, the robot Toby only reminds him of his deceased son.

The President is still after the blue matter and finds out it resides in Toby, Stone sends his robot minions to retrieve the blue matter, but during the battle Toby loses his ability to fly and tumbles to earth below.  On earth, he meets a bunch of kids led by Cora (Kristen Bell) Cora takes Toby aka Astro to meet Hamegg, (Lane) who used to work in Metro City in the Ministry of Science, but is now relegated to fixing old robots and fighting them gladiator style.  Hamegg pretends to be a loving father figure to the orphaned kids, but when he finds out that Astro Boy is a robot, he wants him to fight the other robots.  After Astroboy has defeated the robots on earth, he is once again captured by President Stone.  Will President Stone succeed in stealing the blue matter from Astroboy and waging war with the Earth’s surface dwellers?  Who will stop him?

This is an excellent movie.  It deals with death and loss in a touching and mature way, it might be a little too much for the younger kids when Toby dies, but they will cheer when Astro Boy is created.  There are bigger thematic elements here too, the mistreatment of robots, the mistrust of Metro City resident of the people they left behind on earth, and the mistrust of the Earthlings of the Metro City denizens.  There are also lighter moments, On Earth Astoboy meets the Robot Revolutionary front, a group of three junked robots who is leading a non-violent fight to free the oppressed robots of Metro City .  The acting is pretty good.  Highmore does a fine job hiding his British accent and is sweetly sincere as Toby/Astoboy.  Kristen Bell is sweet as Cora, Cage hams it up as Temna, especially when he’s trying to emote, but Nathan Lane is suitably devious as Hamegg, and Donald Sutherland uses his voice to excellent effect as the evil President Stone. There’s even a cameo by Samuel L. Jackson, as Zog, a robot Astroboy saves from the scrap heap.  Bring the tissues, this is a tear-jerker.

Astro Boy.  A flight of fancy.

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