For the most part, and don’t dare ask me why, American audiences have become mesmerized with the anime sensation that has swallowed up Saturday morning cartoons with lazy animation and piss poor stories. Why have I mentioned this morsel of worthlessness? So I can come to this conclusion of course:
Kids love anime. Anime comes from manga. Kids will therefore love the new manga inspired movie Astro Boy.
And if that causality isn’t enough of reason there is this:
Astro Boy has rockets in his arms and his butt. He possesses super strength and can fly faster than a jet. Why he’s able to do all this is a mystery. After all, he’s supposedly only been created to fill the void left behind after Toby (voiced by Freddie Highmore), the son of world renowned scientist Dr. Tenma (voiced by Nicolas Cage), was killed. It’s a damn good thing he has them though because those pesky, war mongering “Republicans”, led by President Stone (voiced by Donald Sutherland), want his power source for themselves so they can rule with impunity.
That’s right, the bleeding hearts in Hollywood just couldn’t resist breaking things up between the blue powers and red — with the blue being good of course. And while they were at it, why not show how wasteful the human population is again by showing, in a WALL-E way, how Earth is now a massive trash heap and how the elitists, safe in the floating city of Metro City, don’t care about the suffering of those on the surface. I’ve never read or watched any of the comic books or associated cartoons of Astro Boy from yesteryear, but I get a distinct feeling politicism wasn’t a part of their storylines.
Some will say I’m looking too much into it and that may indeed be the case. It’s just impossible for me to not notice those themes. I’d really much rather a kid’s movie be just that — a movie meant for kids without any underlying propaganda or messages.
That aside, Astro Boy is flanked with other production issues. The colors of this future world are bland and uninviting. The future is grim, even though technologically, we, as humans, have excelled. The characters act and look lifeless. Even the comedy ramblings from Earth orphan Cora (voiced by Kristen Bell) and her guardian Ham Egg (voiced by Nathan Lane), who befriend Astro on the ground, belong in the mammoth junk piles where they live.
Oh yeah, Nicolas Cage as a loving and later as grief-stricken father is an odd choice, to say the least.
When Astro Boy ran into production issues late last year, that should have been the signal sent to Summit Entertainment to pull the plug on this unimaginative, uninspiring feature. A world renowned character with so much history behind it like Astro Boy deserves so much better.