Posted: 03/09/2010


Astro Boy

by Del Harvey

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Updated for contemporary audiences, this new version of Astro Boy is a blast! Originally a Japanese manga released in 1952 as “Tetsuwan Atomu” (Mighty Atom”), by Osamu Tezuka, revered in Japan as the “God of Manga.” He also created the classic Kimba, The White Lion (which is, oddly enough, extremely similar to a film called “The Lion King”).

In the futuristic Metro City, scientist Dr. Tenma (Nicolas Cage), creates an amazing robot boy with hidden talents unlike anything seen before. Astro Boy (Freddie Highmore) has super strength, x-ray vision, incredible speed and the ability to fly. But what he really wants is to know where he belongs. When the world needs saving, he will discover he was made for the challenge.

Additional voice talents include Kristen Bell, Nathan Lane, Eugene Levy, Bill Nighy, Donald Sutherland, Samuel L. Jackson, and Charlize Theron. This version is directed by David Bowers (Flushed Away) and written by Timothy Hyde Harris (Kindergarten Cop, Space Jam) and Bowers.

The original Astro Boy was a science fiction series set in a futuristic world where robots co-exist with humans. Its focus was on the adventures of the titular “Astro Boy” (sometimes called simply “Astro”), a powerful robot created by the head of the Ministry of Science, Doctor Tenma, to replace his son Tobio (also known as ‘Toby’ or ‘Astor’), who died in a car accident. Dr. Tenma built Astro in Tobio’s image and treated him as lovingly as if he were the real Tobio, but soon realized that the little robot could not fill the void of his lost son, especially given that Astro could not grow older or express human aesthetics. Astro Boy episodes were shown in the US in the late 1960’s, then remade to huge success in the 1980’s.

Bonus features on the DVD and BluRay include:
-Two all new animated sequences, “Astro vs. The Junkyard Pirates,” and “The RRF in: The New Recruit”
-Three featurettes introduced by Freddie Highmore: “Designing a Hero,” “Building Metro City,” and “Getting The Astro Boy Look.”
-Featurette, “Inside the Recording Booth,” with the all-star cast
-Astro Boy image gallery

Astro Boy releases on DVD and BluRay March 16, 2010.

Del Harvey is the founder of Film Monthly, a film teacher, a writer and a film critic in Chicago.

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