#53 Astro Boy

#53  Astro Boy

Year: 2009
Director: David Bowers
MPAA Rating: PG
Epic Co-stars: Donald Sutherland, Nathan Lane
Running Time: 94 minutes
Cage Time: 15%
Cage Kills: 0
Cage Flip-outs: 0
Skyler's Review: 
Nicolas Cage is cutting-edge scientist, Dr. Tenma, in the futuristic Metro City. This futuristic city is a Wall-E type oasis, complete with robot slaves, floating above a Wall-E type destroyed Earth surface. Tenma's son, Toby, is a real smart-alec know-it-all who sneaks into his dad's secret lab, full of new government weapons, and gets himself killed within the first 15 minutes. This, of course fills Tenma with regret, since we was always too busy for Toby: a real "cat's in the cradle and the silver spoon" situation.

Dr. Tenma only hangs out with his son in hologram form.
Tenma, stricken with grief, uses a newly discovered, powerfully "good" blue core of a star to power a Toby-lookalike robot. Although this robot Toby has meat Toby's memories (how?), it isn't as nerdy as meat Toby and Tenma kicks him/it out of the house. Meanwhile, the President wants to use the star cores to jumpstart a war that will win him the election, and he chases robot Toby off Metro City to the surface, where he becomes "Astro" and masquerades as a real boy. Astro robot meets a gang of Oliver Twist-esque kids on the surface. There is an epic battle, miraculous ending, etc.

This is not his son sleeping. It is a robot. His son is dead.
In the end this story is about good v. evil and equal treatment and respect for all self-aware and intelligent beings (robots or otherwise). This is all fine and all, but I can't get over the fact that they gloss right over the fact that Dr. Tenma's son, who seemed like a great kid, was laser blasted into dust without warning. It was almost a footnote, a preface. They did not delve into the fact that Dr. Tenma is facing a very real delusion leaving him very compromised. He builds Astro, but keep in mind that he hastily made a self-aware robot with the emotional intelligence of a grade-schooler, yet gave it laser cannons, machine guns,  rocket feet, and put a star's core (whatever that means) inside it. What if this robot threw a tantrum and shot up the town, lasered some grandmas, and detonated himself?

Real life Nicolas Cage is the best father.
In conclusion, this animated film was cute enough and fun enough, and Nicolas Cage delivered an excellent voice over performance. The writing left something to be desired. They missed a big opportunity to explain death and the 5 stages of grief to the 4 year olds in the audience. Instead the lesson is, don't worry about death, your dad will rebuild you as a robot with rocket boots.

Movie quotability:
  • "It's called adaptive technology: it can absorb and control anything."
  • "It's going to make him perfect, PERFECT!"
  • "I like his boots" -Henry
  • "I'm Mike the fridge. I'm the...fridge"
  • "It's official. Henry loves Nicolas Cage movies." -James
  • "Zog's awesome. I want a Zog!" -Skyler
  • "What? I got machine guns... in my butt?" 
  • "If you want the core, you're going to have to kill me."
  • "He has to put it deep within the boy's Ass...tro." -James
  • "IT'S NOT TIME FOR CHANGE" -President Stone's campaign banner
  • "We're trying to live more naturally. You know, like real birds." -Robot spray and squeegee
  • "A squeezee bottle's gotta do what a squeezee bottle's gotta do."
  • "Love will be able to charge his battery!" -Skyler
Plot Holes:
  • A "small fragment of a star" was collected. False. The whole planet is a "small fragment of a star." Stars are just atoms.
  • Robot scientist uploads Toby's' memories into a robot Toby. How? From the one hair that he found?
  • 4th dimensional calculus is just called "calculus"
  • Astro Boy flies through the earth and solid rock but he doesn't melt from friction.

Exceeds Expectations
!Stayed in the Cage!


Steve M said...

Ok, not too bad, but not something I would ordinarily have chosen to watch. Obviously Cage is limited once again to the confines of an animated body and can't just flip out at will.

Maybe it's just me, but when it comes to animation I could care less who does the voice as long as they do a good job of it. Sutherland was a decent choice for the president because his voice adds to the darkness of the character. Cage's voice on the other hand just doesn't seem to fit Dr. Tenma, they could have saved a few million by hiring a nobody with a suitable voice. His voice is well suited for many characters, but this was not one of them.

KaBluie said...

#68 Astro Boy (2009) HBO on Demand, First Time View. I enjoyed it!

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