I feel like Astro Boy has been flying under the radar – it’s been out for a couple weeks and I’ve heard almost nothing about it. (Maybe I’m still coming down from the media blitz surrounding Where the Wild Things Are). Olive showed interest in seeing it when we saw a trailer for Astro Boy before Cloudy With a Chance of Meatballs (a flying robot boy!!) so I took her to see it today.
We weren’t exactly fan girls going into the movie. I realize the character of Astro Boy has been around for almost 60 years, yet I knew almost nothing about him, so we came to the movie a clean slate. Luckily, the movie did a great job of telling us Astro Boy’s origin story. The story takes place in Metro City, a prime slice of floating land in the sky that has left the “surface” (a post-apolcalyptic earth) behind. Dr. Tenma (voiced by Nicholas Cage) loses his son in a military lab experiment early in the movie, he does what any other grief-stricken father/genius scientist would do: rebuild his lost son as a super robot boy. Sadly for both of them, the facsimile doesn’t compare to the real thing, and Astro Boy (Freddie Highmore) ends up cast out of Metro City, finding himself among the sea of discarded robots below on the surface.
On the surface we meet an awesome group of orphaned kids, headed up by awesome tough-girl Cora (Kristin Bell). Astro Boy starts to feel at home with this ragtag bunch, until the father figure, Hamegg (Nathan Lane), discovers he’s a robot, not a boy.
Metro City has a diabolical villain in the power-hungry President Stone (brilliantly and evilly voiced by Donald Sutherland). He even gets an evil robot transformation, the likes of which have not been seen since the Dude turned into that evil robot at the end of Iron Man. In fact, I kept thinking that this movie is the lovechild of Wall-E and Iron Man. It had more explosions than Olive’s seen before, but she seemed pretty unfazed by the robot violence. It helps that Astro Boy is incredibly likable. What’s terrific about this movie for kids is that while the adults use poor judgement throughout the movie, the kids were the heroes, powerful and full of goodness. My robot-loving girl enjoyed it, and I had a great time, too.