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.
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