Astro Boy (PG)
Friday 05 February 2010
Based on Osamu Tezuka's manga icon – a Japanese legend since 1951 – this American version of the airborne android has a likeable comic zip that just about carries off its runaway sci-fi extravagances.
When top scientist Dr Tenma (voiced by Nicolas Cage) loses his son Toby (Freddie Highmore) in a freak laboratory accident, he assuages his grief by creating a robot replica of the boy, complete with jet-propelled feet and superhuman strength. But the president of Metro City, a bellicose ignoramus desperate for re-election, wants to harness that energy, and so "Astro" flees to the robot junkyard known as "Earth". It's impossible not to be reminded of Pinocchio as the boy comes to terms with his alien origins, and perhaps also of Oliver Twist once the manipulative Ham Egg (Nathan Lane) sets him to work in the fight arena. The director David Bowers and his team stage some eye-catching slapstick, and in the minor characters – a pair of window-cleaning squeegees are good value – the film delights with touches of Disneyesque mischief. It's hardly groundbreaking, and some of the voicework is bland, but it doesn't drag.
Film The critics but sneer but these unfashionable festive films are our favourites
TV We're so close to knowing what happened to Oliver Hughes, but a last-minute bluff crushes expectations
Arts & Ents blogs
- 1 Planes go hybrid-electric in important step to greener flight
- 2 Christmas comes early to Hong Kong, as millions of bank notes spill out onto busy street
- 3 Antonio Martin shooting: Police and protesters clash over teenager's death just five miles from Ferguson, Missouri
- 4 Northern Lights above Britain: Stunning Aurora Borealis illuminates Northumberland sky on Christmas Eve
- 5 British actor Idris Elba cannot star as James Bond because he is black, says shock jock Rush Limbaugh
Christmas Day TV guide 2014: What to watch from Strictly Come Dancing to the story of Frozen
Best underrated Christmas movies: From Trading Places to While You Were Sleeping
Game of Thrones season five: First preview clip shows a beardy Tyrion, a moody Cersei and a distressed Arya
The Interview is finally released after Sony hack and terror threats – but reviews of North Korea satire are mixed
Christmas TV guide 2014: The best shows to watch from Doctor Who to Downton Abbey
Nigel Farage defends Kerry Smith 'ch***y' comment: 'If you are going for a Chinese, what do you say you’re going for?'
British actor Idris Elba cannot star as James Bond because he is black, says shock jock Rush Limbaugh
Rozanne Duncan: Ukip expels councillor for 'jaw-dropping' comments made in BBC TV interview
Germany anti-Islam protests: 17,000 march on Dresden against 'Islamification of the West'
Ukip member gets into Christmas spirit with Union Flag plea to Santa 'for our country back'
Panic Saturday: 13 million Britons spend £1.2bn – while 13 million others across the country live in poverty unable to afford food