A consistently intelligent (or at least bright), coherently constructed comedy that is on occasion a rather pointed critique of the American education system in the…
"Astro Boy" is yet another animated comedy in which the hero, who is about the same age as his target audience, is smarter, braver and stronger than the adults in his world. Toby is also a quick learner; after he dies in an accident, he's reborn inside a robot that looks just like him and retains all of his memories. His father, in fact, treats him just like the original Toby. But Toby is dead! my inner logician insisted. Here's a good question: Does Astro Boy with Toby's memory wonder why he is a robot and can fly?
No time to ask questions. Metro City is in upheaval. Astro Boy (the voice of Freddie Highmore) is powered by a Blue Energy source discovered by his dad (Nicolas Cage); it's safe and clean, but its opposite is Red Energy, which is dirty and dangerous and desired by the warmonger President Stone (Donald Sutherland), who wants to use it to seize complete control. That seems like a shame, because Metro City is in peaceful orbit around the Earth, its citizens waited on hand and foot by robots.
Below on Earth, there is devastation as garbage piles high. The precocious Astro Boy does battle with the president and then vamooses to Earth, where he meets some scavenger human kids, led by the Faginesque Hamegg (Nathan Lane), who builds fighting robots out of scrap parts. Apparently BattleBots still thrive. All builds up to Astro Boy, back up in Metro City, leading the Blues against the evil, polluting Reds, in an apocalypse where any thoughts of Blue and Red states would of course be completely inappropriate.
The movie contains less of its interesting story and more action and battle scenes than I would have preferred. Has market research discovered our children are all laboring with attention deficits and can only absorb so many story elements before brightly colored objects distract them with deafening combat? Still, "Astro Boy" is better than most of its recent competitors, such as "Monsters vs. Aliens" and "Kung Fu Panda."
This message came to me from a reader named Peter Svensland. He and a fr...
A look at John Sayles' brilliant "The Brother From Another Planet."