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Laramie Movie Scope:
Astro Boy

An ultra-modern Pinocchio story

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by Robert Roten, Film Critic
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December 7, 2009 -- “Astro Boy” is a space-age retelling of the old Pinocchio story. It has a lot of heart and a lot of action. Based on a Japanese character first introduced in 1951, the story is imaginative and its heart is in the right place.

The story begins with the tragic death of a young boy due to a reckless experiment by a politician running for mayor of a spectacular floating city in the sky called Metro City. The inhabitants of Metro City have no regard for the people living on the land below and regularly dump their garbage on them. The boy's father, Dr. Tenma (voiced by Nicolas Cage), a great scientist, uses the boy's DNA to construct a lifelike robot that looks just like his son, with all the same memories. The robot thinks he is a boy until he finds out differently. His father changes his mind about the experiment when he discovers the robot is not an exact duplicate. He has different interests than his son had. The robot also serves as a painful reminder of the death of his son.

Rejected, the young robot finds himself among humans living on the earth below Metro City. He likes these people, but is afraid they won't like him if they discover he is actually a robot, and not a little boy. He calls himself Astro. Eventually, his cover is blown. His best friend rejects him. The man he had come to regard as a father figure, Hamegg, betrays him and forces him into gladiatorial combat with other robots. Meanwhile, the politician is on a mission to find Astro Boy because he is powered by a rare and powerful form of energy. Astro Boy is neither entirely a robot, nor is he human. He is something else. At last he accepts who he is and discovers his purpose in life.

Astro Boy is a story of what it means to be human. It is about heroism and self-sacrifice. It is about science and politics and friendship. It is about being true to yourself and finding a way in the world for someone who doesn't fit into any neat category. Astro Boy is an iconic figure in animation circles. When the character was introduced in 1951 by Osamu Tezuka, it changed the art of comic books and film animation in Japan. The character was introduced to mainstream American audiences in 2004 as a TV series. I did not know anything about the history of Astro Boy when I went to see this film. It turns out you don't have to have any background at all in Japanese animation to appreciate this particular film. This film rates a B.

Click here for links to places to buy or rent this movie in digital formats, or to buy the soundtrack, posters, books, even used videos, games, electronics and lots of other stuff. I suggest you shop at least two of these places before buying anything. Prices seem to vary continuously. For more information on this film, click on this link to The Internet Movie Database. Type in the name of the movie in the search box and press enter. You will be able to find background information on the film, the actors, and links to much more information.

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Copyright © 2009 Robert Roten. All rights reserved.
Reproduced with the permission of the copyright holder.
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Robert Roten can be reached via e-mail at my last name at lariat dot org. [Mailer button: image of letter and envelope]

(If you e-mail me with a question about this or any other movie or review, please mention the name of the movie you are asking the question about, otherwise I may have no way of knowing which film you are referring to)