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Astro Boy Review

The short version.  While nowhere near as good as other comparable movies (Cloudy, Kung Fu Panda or Pixar movies), Astroboy is a fun movie and a good way to spend an afternoon.  The long version: After the jump.

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I saw Astro Boy last week and am finally getting around to reviewing it.  Sorry for the delay.  Astro Boy began as a Manga published in Japan in from 1951 to 1968. This was followed by two further Japanese series in 1972-73 and 1980-81.  The series was created by Osamu Tezuka, revered in Japan as the "God of Manga.”  In 1963, Astro Boy became an animated television show in Japan and is widely regarded as being the first example of anime.  In all fairness, he didn’t really become Astro Boy until the show was syndicated for American audiences in the late 60s (the closest translation to his Japanese name would be “the mighty atom”).  I should also note for those interested in  the original Tetsuwan Atomu manga stories, that they have been published in English-language versions by Dark Horse Comics in a translation by Frederik L. Schodt.  Gold Key comics also printed original English language stories in 1955 (Astro Boy one shot) and 1966 (March of Comics # 285), but they are harder to get.

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The Manga and anime tell the story 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, who died.   Dr. Tenma built Astro in Tobio's image, but soon realized that the Astro is not his son.  Astro fights a neverending battle against robots and aliens to save the world.

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The movie follows the same basic plot and was directed David Bowers  The movie features an impressive cast with Freddie Highmore, Kristen Bell, Nathan Lane, Eugene Levy, Matt Lucas, Bill Nighy, Donald Sutherland, and Nicolas Cage.  There are many changes from the original source material such as the addition of a girl named Cora as a friendship/love interest for Astro and the elimination of the entire Astro Family.  (In all fairness there are a lot of changes when the source material is compared to itself).  The movie also has a message and gets kind of preachy at times.  Otherwise, the film stays pretty formulaic.  In short, Astro Boy won’t be remembered as a masterpiece of original film making.  So, if that is what you want, Disney/Pixar's Up comes out on video on November 10th.  However, if you are looking for a charming fun movie that is formulaic and predictable, it is fine way to spend 95 minutes. 


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Once again, like my other cartoon/anime reviews, I saw this movie with my 4 year old daughter Elizabeth.  She was quite frightened at times and even asked to leave the theater at one point (when the evil peacekeeper arrives).  As a bad father, I refused and we pushed through the scary parts.  She then ended up loving the end of the film.  I should note for the older kids, in order for Astro Boy to be created, a very bad thing must happen to Toby (who was called Tobio in the original version).  This very bad thing is featured in the movie.

Here is the trailer and some pictures:

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