Astro Boy

Release Date: October 23, 2009

Movie of the Day for Sunday, April 26, 2009
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He's having a bad hair day.

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For several years now, Hollywood has been raiding Japan for horror films. As that trend loses gas, the kind of entertainment that country has been even better known for is starting to get some attention, namely anime.

Arguably the most famous of this genre is Astro Boy, a manga and TV series that dates back to the 1950s originally, but has been in syndication almost continually since the 60s. Sort of a Japanese take on the Pinocchio story, Astro Boy tells the story of an android created by an inventor to replace his son, killed in a car accident. And you thought you had parent issues. A spikey "haired" cherubic robot with rockets for feet, Astro Boy then obviously turned to adventure and crime-fighting, like he would have had any other choice.

While it wasn't as in depth as later shows like Robotech or movies like Akira, Astro Boy was one of the more entertaining and enduring adventure cartoon shows, with a episodic style that lends pretty naturally to the big screen, making one wonder why a film hasn't happened until now.

Part of it may have been due to, appropriately enough, technology. Updated from the spare animation to shiny, flashy CGI animation, early footage of Astro Boy looks sharp and highly stylized, though not in the eye-piercing and "WTF" inducing way of Speed Racer. The voice cast is strong, with Freddie Highmore (of Charlie and the Chocolate Factory) voicing the title character, with Nic Cage taking on the role of his creator, Dr. Tenma with Kristen Bell, Bill Nighy, Donald Sutherland, Nathan Lane and Eugene Levy also voicing roles.

This is a film that is more or less guaranteed to be huge internationally, with domestic success less assured. In North America, it skews quite young, which will probably hamstring it here, though there's always that nostalgia factor. (Reagen Sulewski/BOP)

Vital statistics for Astro Boy
Main Cast Nicolas Cage, Kristen Bell, Donald Sutherland
Supporting Cast Nathan Lane, Bill Nighy, Eugene Levy, Matt Lucas, Freddie Highmore
Director David Bowers
Screenwriter Timothy Harris
Distributor Summit Entertainment
Trailer Click Here for Trailer
Official Site
Screen Count 3,014
Talent in red has entry in The Big Picture



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