Tuesday, January 27, 2015

Astro Boy (2009)

I'm not really all that much of an Astro Boy fan, but if it's on TV, I'll watch it, and I know enough about the series to know when an adaptation totally screws things up! Case in point, the 2009 American movie!...

In the future metropolis of Metro City, Toby Tenma is the young son of famed scientist Dr. Tenma, a robotics expert currently contracted by the military for a program spearheaded by skeezy President Stone. The robotic Peacekeeper goes rogue when, against the warnings of Tenma's colleague Professor Elefun, Stone powers his behemoth with an unstable negative energy core instead of the recommended positive one. Toby, who snuck in to see the grand unveiling of the Peacekeeper, is vaporised, and in a fit of grief, Tenma wiles away the days until he's built a robotic replica of his son, complete with memories. At first, Tenma is overjoyed by the 'return' of his son, but he soon begins to feel cold toward the new Toby, feeling that he's not his real son. Toby, who soon redubs himself 'Astro', runs away from Metro City, especially thanks to the military being on his tail, but has to return when the revived Peacekeeper begins destroying the city...

This movie is rotten! It's a bore, with an extremely mediocre plot, dull characters, not enough action, and failed attempts at humour.

Let's start with the plot. Adapting TV shows into a move rarely works, as they're two radically different mediums. If you tell or adapt only one story, why should anyone care, as they can get 20 stories a season by just sticking with the show. Alternatively, the filmmakers could try and have lots of different plots going on at once, which is admirable, but futile and cluttered if done poorly. Astro Boy falls into the former trap, as it has just the one single plot, with no subplots at all! It goes from Point A to Point B, then the movie's over! Astro doesn't even become a damn superhero until the last fifteen-or-so minutes of the movie! I thought I was watching a frikkin' superhero movie here!

Then there's the unfunny comedy, courtesy of a lot annoying comic relief. The only part of the movie that actually made me laugh was the opening documentary, which has an amusing use of contrast.

There's little action in this movie, and what there is is dull.

The final battle in this movie is akin to Man of Steel. We have a fight between Astro and the Peacekeeper that amasses so much collateral damage that it's ridiculous! How can this be a happy ending when the whole city is in ruins?! This fight gets even stupider with scenes such as the hero and villain tearing skyscrapers out of the ground and hitting each-other with them! At one point, Astro knocks down a skyscraper, probably killing thousands, just to keep the Peacekeeper at bay for a few seconds! And then, a few minutes later, Astro tries to use a girder as a club, then seems surprised that it didn't work, despite a whole hundred-storey building not working!

The ending especially annoyed me. I assume everyone reading has seen The Incredibles. You know how at the end, after Dash's school race, the family walk happily, then a would-be supervillain busts out of the ground, declaring his plans for world domination, then the Incredibles knowingly smile as they suit up, ready to take this sucker down! Astro Boy ends on a similar note, trying to get across a triumphant feeling, except it fails, as while the ending for The Incredibles was set months after the rest of the movie's events, Astro Boy's barely takes a minute long break before a new monster attacks the city! The characters are cheering from their victory, go to rebuild their trashed city, and then instantly a frikkin' octopus alien comes and attacks, probably as a harbinger for extermination of all life on Earth. So much for the characters getting any kind of break!

The characters here are cardboard, while Astro is pretty dull, and a hypocrite, given his actions in the robo-gladiator arena! Dr. Tenma is also annoying, as he angrily disowns Astro, on the grounds that he's 'nothing like Toby', even though he never shows signs at any point of being different to his previous 'self'. The only interesting member of the cast  is Dr. Elefun, but he's extremely underused, and there are large swaths of the movie where he's absent. The villains are pretty annoying. President Stone is extremely repetitive, while Nathan Lane gets some decent quiet moments as Hammig, but suddenly turns out to be a very unsubtle bad guy.

The acting here is passable. Freddie Highmore is a decent lead, but the real standout is Bill Nighy, who pulls off a great performance, getting across all the right emotions! Unfortunately, like I said, his character is underused, as is Samuel L. Jackson, who barely gets three tiny lines in the whole movie, despite being a semi-major character

Astro Boy is a pretty bad movie, and I recommend you avoid it. If you really yearn to watch Astro Boy, then you have at least three animes to pick from, so there are certainly better options than this crap...

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