Astro Boy Review

Published 6 years ago by , Updated October 23rd, 2009 at 6:31 pm,

Short Version: While the animation is excellent, Astro Boy is too intense for younger kids, too corny for teens and annoyingly political overall.

astro boy comic con 6 Astro Boy Review
Screen Rant reviews Astro Boy

I went into Astro Boy with high hopes and nostalgia. I’m actually old enough to remember watching the original cartoon back when I was a kid, and being a sci-fi kind of geek even as a wee child, remember enjoying the futuristic show about a robot boy who could fly and had all kinds of cool weapons. Trailers and clips looked good so although I expected a kids’ film, I was looking forward to this and brought along my 13 year old daughter and a friend of hers.

All three of us were of the same opinion: It was a waste of an hour and a half.

There will be some spoilers in this review, but as it’s a movie aimed at kids, and I’m writing this review for parents, I hope you won’t mind.

I swung 180 degrees in my opinion between the time the opening credits began and ended – at first the animation and dramatic music drew me in right off the bat and it looked like we might be in for something good. But then I started seeing the names of the voice actors… one well-known name after another, after another. Kristen Bell, Nicolas Cage, Samuel L. Jackson, Charlize Theron, Donald Sutherland, Nathan Lane, and more. Do I have anything against any of these actors? Not at all. So what was the problem?

More often than not when there is an animated film with a star-studded cast it’s a very good indication that you’re in for a very mediocre movie.

Don’t ask me WHY this so – it just is (in my experience).

As Astro Boy begins we are treated to a quick animated sequence showing how humanity has ruined the planet and we cut to what could be a TV commercial for moving to Metro City – a city literally in the clouds, where everyone is happy and robots do all the work people don’t want to do (including, interestingly enough “Nanny-bots”). They indicate that all is not rosy because while they float above the earth they just dump their trash and old robots over the edge to tumble down to terra firma. Oh, and people actually live on the ground, scrabbling amongst what looks like a vast garbage dump/junkyard.

The man who made this life of leisure possible via his robotic inventions is Dr. Tenma (Nicolas Cage), the father of Toby, a boy of about 13(?) who seems to be on his way to being as brilliant as his father. It seems that a meteorite fell to Earth and had at its core an energy source that could help restore the planet to its once pristine state – problem is that to do that it had to be split into “good” energy and “bad.” Bill Nigh plays a scientist who of course wants to use the good blue energy to bring about, well, good. But President Stone (Donald Sutherland) wants the red energy put to use to create a super-weapon robot that he can use to go to war with the surface dwellers.

In a demonstration of the robot (where things go horribly awry) Toby is killed by the evil robot. Heck of a way to start a movie aimed at kids… Anyway, Tenma is stricken with grief, takes a strand of hair from Toby and uses its DNA and the blue energy to create Astro Boy in an effort to still have his son. While Astro Boy is 90% Toby, he is different enough that Tenma shuns him. Astro Boy ends up on the surface, and is befriended by the children living there, overseen by the apparently benign robot fanatic scientist “Ham Egg” (Nathan Lane).

Eventually Astro Boy makes it back up to Metro City to battle with a giant version of a red-energy-powered robot/President Stone and saves the day.

original astro boy Astro Boy Review

The 1980s version of Astro Boy

For younger kids (I’d say maybe 6-7 and under) the final battle is pretty intense as the giant robot tries its best to kill Astro Boy (and seemingly succeeds). Also the death scene early on is a bit much – pretty hard core for a PG movie in my opinion. Throughout the film there were (to me) many annoying references to “starting a war in order to get re-elected” and an idiotic quote by the President: “Look at history, negative energy always wins.” Really? Last time I checked the Nazis lost World War II. But the topper for me was a stage set up for the President to speak at a political rally with a banner behind the podium that stated “Now is not the time for change.”

Seriously? In a kids’ film? I remember when movies for kids handed out moral messages, not political ones.

I did enjoy the animation in Astro Boy quite a bit, but then like I said, I’m a fan of the original character and he was portrayed well and voiced just fine by Freddie Highmore plus I’m just a fan of CGI animated films in general. There were also three goofy supporting characters that were quite funny, but I think my daughter’s friend summed it up best: The best thing about the end of the movie is that it meant it was over.

Our Rating:

2 out of 5

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  1. LMAO!!

    Ok, so there’s a 70% chance gigan wasn’t joking, but I’m going to laugh anyway…

    Ferngully is such a classic isn’t it? Can’t you feel its pain?? 😀

  2. Laugh all you want, Ken. But,your only confirming everything I’ve said about humans to be true, such pathetic creatures. If its not on myspace, facebook, or twitter, then people just disregard it and assume that person to be “crazy”. Oh, well when the planet becomes uninhabitable then I’ll be the one sitting back and laughing.

  3. LOL, I guess you are god and don’t need a habitable planet in order to be alive to be “sitting back and laughing.”


  4. Maybe I missed something but, seems like I wouldn’t have much use for the earth if it was devoid of human life… I mean; I’m a boy scout and a moderate tree hugger and I want to treat our planet well, but I think if we are encouraging the end of human life in order to save the planet we may have missed the point…

    btw – I also like run on sentances

  5. Gigan typed:

    >>WE need the planet, but the planet doesn’t need us.<<

    Homework assignment: Among all the creatures of the planet that are more worthy than humans, list those that the planet does need.

  6. Damn Sylar, you’re right, all animals should just die. I mean, look at those grazers, eating up all of the defenseless grass, and those evil Orca’s that kill seals slowly, geez…

  7. Sam some like to think that radical is the only way to characterize people who subscribe to any ideology.
    It’s a nice way to demonize a point of view and strike fear into those that would like to consider all aspects of a viewpoint. My own point of view borrows from a number of ideologies. I think many people operate in this mode. For example I don’t believe in gun control. The reasons are
    numerous but the one I like to point to is that no one can control the creativity of a person that is determined to do violence or threaten violence. The best way to control violence in my opinion is to remove the reasons for it in the first place. Removing motive makes opportunity and means
    irrelevant. I also think we for the most part live in an enclosed system. Solar radiation strikes daily it is diffuse though and limited. We don’t yet have the ability to control the suns activity. So besides the occasional comet or rock or satellite that hits the Earth we have finite energy resources. Man has from recorded history been able to enhance his life by making things to assist him in his daily struggle to survive. If we think of these tools as energy transformers we’re able to look at them in a new way. All living things exchange energy with the environment. The overall environment which contains matter and energy is finite. As the number of living things increases and if they have the ability to make tools then more efficient and
    numerous energy transformers will be built to assist that life in it’s survival. No transformation process is
    perfect and different states exist in the process. Unfortunately we typically only have one perhaps two
    individual paths to take advantage of these different states. The first is direct transformation and the second is
    commonly called recycling. The more steps taking advantage of these states the more of the total amount of energy can be transformed. Typically into what’s considered useful work. The penalty for doing this is that less concentrated forms of energy and material are available in the future. In the future those who are living then can’t take advantage of the energy and materials being used today. The states of diffusion become so great that a transformer, to take advantage of that state becomes infeasible. In other words as you drive your car around all the materials and energy used become increasingly unavailable. Yeah even the little bits of it, as it oxidizes away and falls off as you go down the road. Imagine trying to make a transformer able to gather all those little bits back up!

    The rate of transformation can’t be reduced beyond some natural fixed point. As intelligent beings we can insure our
    future progeny are afforded as much as we can spare for them to use. It should be the inheritance we leave our
    legacy that should encourage them so that they too may follow our example. Until the day when humankind reaches
    its end, in a transformation beyond the temporal world or the final erg is transformed.

  8. This Movie kicked so much ass , I was rooting for the little black kid the whole time.

  9. Off topic sorry,

    Vic, I am going to The Fourth Kind opening day early, I will be writing an opinion piece and sending it to you via email that day for your readers enjoyment. I plan on writing a serious piece so expect the draft by early evening in time for new potential viewers to make their last minute decisions.

    Your email contact from webpage is not working. Too this rest of you, it sucked having to read so many posts..but Thank You all for letting me know a childhood hero sucked. I have been looking for a free preview-via post on player for free version of Astro Boy before blowing money taking the kids to see it. Thanks to ScreenRants amazing critics I will play Akira for them instead…altough I want to play Urotsukidoji..heh heh heh

  10. @Sylar’s Hunger Continues

    The thing is that amung all the creatures on this planet, HUMANS are the ones destroying it. People are aware of this and yet they don’t care. They would rather go to parties and get drunk, high, or both.

  11. That’s odd, I thought the ones that are getting high were the tree huggers??

  12. The “bad” energy was red and the “good” energy was blue?

    Not very subtle.

  13. I was in Hollywood when Astroboy was being premiered at the Manns Chinese Theater. I didn’t know it was scheduled for that day but then, I thought, heck, I’ll watch this once it hits the theaters, I mean, I am a fan of the original cartoon as well.

    When I did get to see it however, it was kind of a let-down. I think the movie tried so hard trying to strike a balance to “satisfy” audiences of different age levels that, it ended up getting watered-down, with a lot of interesting plot points getting casually pushed aside instead of being developed or explored to give the story a lot more depth.

    Overall, it wasn’t really bad, but it wasn’t all that good either. If they decide to make a sequel of this one, I hope they do a better job!

  14. I like this Movie Alot! and this is my first time seeing it and I never really heard of Astro Boy until now so I don’t know much about the origenle (can’t spell) one of Astro Boy but it was good too me but it looked too short and I hope the have a GOOD sequel and add a girl PS. I’m a girl and I don’t care for Romance but I was kinda hoping for Astro too have a girlfreind… >.>

  15. I am 56 years old and liked the movie. Perhaps because my wife and I have not watched TV and cable news shows in several years, the movie did not strike us as “political” or annoying, just entertaining. (As far back as I can remember, government leaders, in countries all around the world, have used tensions with foreign enemies to shore themselves up at home.) The very young children sitting in front of us seemed to be enjoying the film. They liked shouting “ouch” during the battle scenes. Not sure how to react to comments from 13 year-olds. When our kids were that age their favorite move was Hey Dude Where's My Car? (One of the worst movies my wife and I have ever watched.) As a semi-retired engineer who first learned how to write computer programs using IBM punchcards, the technology is fascinating. I recommend the movie to others in our age group.

  16. I am 56 years old and liked the movie. Perhaps because my wife and I have not watched TV and cable news shows in several years, the movie did not strike us as “political” or annoying, just entertaining. (As far back as I can remember, government leaders, in countries all around the world, have used tensions with foreign enemies to shore themselves up at home.) The very young children sitting in front of us seemed to be enjoying the film. They liked shouting “ouch” during the battle scenes. Not sure how to react to comments from 13 year-olds. When our kids were that age their favorite move was Hey Dude Where's My Car? (One of the worst movies my wife and I have ever watched.) As a semi-retired engineer who first learned how to write computer programs using IBM punchcards, the technology is fascinating. I recommend the movie to others in our age group.

  17. Well guys- just because this guy didn't like it- doesn't mean you shouldn't give it a chance.
    I'm a teen and I actually enjoyed it a lot.
    And the political parts are the main part of the movie because that kept the movie together (read the plot for yourselves).

    For kids under 10, they may not be able to catch on to the humor or anything (because I wouldn't have either) but this movie was great and very cute.
    I'd give it 4 stars out of 5.

  18. I actually got teary eyed during the last few scenes. Although I must admit that the first half of the movie was pretty dragging and I almost fell asleep. But overall, i must say it’s an entertaining movie (in my own point of view, of course). I’m a 19 year old male, by the way 😉

  19. I thought this movie was OK.. Did not agree that it should of had so many political stunts in it such as “Look at history, negative energy always wins.”,“starting a war in order to get re-elected”, ” Now is not the time for change.” I agree that those parts in the movie made it very annoying…
    The plot was ok for me and i did like astro boy and his heart of gold, teaching his father a valuable lesson and teaching the kids from the surface one too! I wish this movie would have just stuck to that instead of the political remarks that were way too clear. It just ruined it for me when I look back at the movie.. WALL-E is one pf my favorite movies because the love story was the main plot the future of humanity was just an undertone.. So Astro boy if you want but don’t keep your hopes up.

  20. The ending too violent for kids???? have you EVER seen a disney movie?!

  21. I know I’m a BIT late to the party but after seeing this movie on television, I thought it was a superb story. I think this movie received such poor reviews because it was aimed at people like our protagonist. Children who have experienced what harsh realities welcome them in life. I’m not trying to sound like a cynic, but these are the truths that really made the movie. Also, I am not partial to the copious amount of complaining about President Stone’s lines and character. People are saying that this movie was made to support such idealism, but it was the exact opposite. It is meant to be satirical. The problem is that many of those who had the intellectual capacity to comprehend these political references, probably would have thought that the rest of the movie was pretty corny. The flaw is that they put higher level ethical problems in a PG movie. Others also complained about the concept of recreating his son being immoral. Remember this is a fictional story and should be taken as such. From a realist point of view, although some may think think that such an act is unjust, others have no problem with it, so just deal with the fact that not everyone shares the same moral values. Lastly, some said that this was made to portray the human race as a negative on society and that progress and technology are not good. Partially right, they do portray the human race as a negative part of the world, but this is true. If we continue the way we are now, the earth may be permanently damaged and will not be suitable for life anymore. Although, technology and progress are the solution. Technology is buying us time until we progress enough to find the answer to this conundrum. Overall, I thoroughly enjoyed this movie and hope for a sequel (which will probably not come because of so much unrest and the dearth amount of people who actually enjoyed this story). I love anime even if it is childish (as long as it is well written), probably because I am pretty young myself. This allowed me to appreciate the more childish parts of this movie along with higher level philosophical questions.