Like a Robot, it Has No Heart

Astro Boy (2009)

When his father has to go to a big science event with President Stone, the intelligent young Toby sneaks along. Unfortunately things go wrong and Toby is killed leaving his father Dr. Tenma heart broken. To try and replace his son he has a robot created in his image but struggles to bond with him as he knows deep down his new son is a robot. Feeling rejected robot Toby who becomes known as Astro runs away and through a series of adventures comes to learn that President Stone is up to no good and with the friends he meets returns to Metro City to try and save the day.

Many years a go Walt Disney gave us an animation about a wooden boy who wanted to be a real boy and ended up on a series of adventures, that movie was "Pinocchio" and as I watched "Astro Boy" I couldn't but help see some similarities. Of course "Astro Boy" is not a remake for a start it is based on a Japanese Manga series and secondly not only is Astro a robot but one who uses his powers to become a superhero. But the narrative of a robot, wanting to be loved by creator as a real boy and having a series of adventures is similar.

The thing is that whilst "Astro Boy" is in some ways similar to "Pinocchio" it is also very different and for me the most obviously difference is a lack of heart. Maybe it is just me but this animation didn't have a soul but instead was an exercise in creating an animation which will keep young eyes entertained. There is the colourful animation combined with characters who have quirks along with plenty of recognizable voices from big actors. There is also plenty of comedy and action and basically if I was a young child it would keep me amused and probably be a movie I would watch again. But whilst as a grown up there were some humorous moments and nice animation work it just didn't charm me.

What this all boils down to is "Astro Boy" probably works for its intended audience for young children who will enjoy the characters, comedy and colourful animation. But for grown ups it simply lacks depth to make it feel more than just an exercise in creating an animation for children.

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