Appealing Aesthetics and Emotional Depth Propel Astro Boy
- Friday, October 23, 2009
Saddened by his loss to the point of wanting to give up science altogether, Dr. Tenma opts for what he feels is the next best thing—creating a "perfect" version of Toby complete with all of his physical traits, mannerisms and memories. Even though he builds a pretty good replica of his son, however, it's still not "him," so in his pain, Dr. Tenma eventually disowns the copycat and basically relegates him to the robot junk pile below Metro City.
Despite his robotic makeup and new superpowers that propel him to the heavens in mere seconds, Toby, who is later christened Astro Boy, still has the emotional capacity of a human. Feeling dejected and betrayed by the man who used to love him so, Toby starts making friends with the fellow robots (some more functional than others) before ultimately discovering a new family structure that makes for some of the movie's most memorable moments.
As the story progresses, there is a certain "been there done that" quality to it, one that's reminiscent of everything from Wall·E, to A.I. and even occasionally, a classic tale like Oliver Twist. But since this is a story aimed at kids, that's forgivable when it's as enjoyable to watch as Astro Boy is.
And unlike far flashier computer-generated stories, there's a surprisingly human element woven in with all the science. Not only does Astro Boy make many self-sacrificing choices for the well-being of others, but his underlying desire to connect—and be a part of a family—is something that virtually anyone can relate to.
- Drugs/Alcohol: None.
- Language/Profanity: No actual profanity, just a few instances of juvenile humor moments where the word "butt" is used.
- Sex/Nudity: None.
- Violence: A child dies, but he's shown disappearing into a flash of light when it happens; nothing too scary. There are a few action scenes that have more of a cartoonish level of violence. It's basically not any more graphic than your average Saturday morning cartoon.
- Thematic Material: With Astro Boy, there's definitely fodder for discussion with parents and their younger children. Not only does a father have a difficult time dealing with the death of his child, but he recreates his son in robot form (complete with his son's memories) to ease the pain, only to reject him later. Once Toby (in robot form) wakes up in a junk pile, he feels as rejected as the rest of discarded robot parts surrounding him.
Christa Banister is a full-time freelancer writer, specializing in music, movies and books-related reviews and interviews and is the author of two novels, Around the World in 80 Dates and Blessed Are the Meddlers. Based in St. Paul, Minn., she also weighs in on various aspects of pop culture on her personal blog.
For more information, including her upcoming book signings and sample chapters of her novels, check out her Website.
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