Tezuka Osamu’s ’50s manga (and the subsequent ’60s cartoon series that sprang from it) begat modern animé, and while David Bowers’ film about the eponymous robot doesn’t break similar ground, his whiz-bang take does update the iconic character for the computer-generated age. Blending Eastern and Western animation styles, this origin story hews closely to the J-toon’s Pinocchio-inspired source material: in a futuristic floating city, Dr Tenma (Nicolas Cage) responds to his teenage son’s death by building a techno doppelganger named Toby (Freddie Highmore) who’s powered by a star fragment. Once this offspring proxy is built, however, Tenma has second thoughts. When the city’s militaristic president (Donald Sutherland) attempts to destroy the mecha-boy, the robot flees and winds up on Earth’s scrap-heap surface.

Once on the polluted terrain, Toby is dubbed Astro, finds a home with ragtag kids and, like many a comic-book outcast, attempts to discover his true destiny. In its best moments, the film exudes an almost Miyazakian love of flight, notably during the hero’s maiden soar through the clouds. But what’s ultimately more impressive than the madcap action and innocuous humour is Bowers’ willingness to address adult themes – alienation, regret, class tensions – with a directness that shows a surprising respect for his target young-adult audience.

Astro Boy

Genre: Action, Animation, Family, Sci-Fi
Duration: 94 mintues
Released: Dec 10th
Director: David Bowers
Stars: Nicolas Cage, Kristen Bell, Charlize Theron, Bill Nighy (voices)
Language: English
Classification: G
Astro Boy https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Astro_Boy_(film)
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