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Astro Boy - DVD Review

George Dryburgh
George Dryburgh

With the creative well for new movies apparently drying up in Hollywood, it seems many of the production companies have turned to adaptations of already popular licenses. One of the new crazes in this area seems to be adapting animated series, in particular Japanese manga and anime. With the successful live action adaption of MTV’s anime series Aeon Flux in 2005 and the long awaited (but lacking) adaption of popular manga series Dragonball: Evolution last year the results have been somewhat variable.

I had the opportunity to watch the new to DVD release Astro Boy this week and have to say that the results have not yet changed. This CGI adaption of the classic manga did not leave much of a mark upon its cinematic release and I can understand why. The main let-down of the film is that its story is one we’ve all heard many times before. Another issue that has been a recurring factor in many movies of late the fact that it does not utilize its stellar voice cast to their full potential. With veterans like Bill Nighy, Nicholas Cage and Donald Sutherland as well as well as comedians Matt Lucas and Eugene Levy it’s frustrating to see an abundance of talent go to waste.

Aside from its shortcomings Astro Boy is still an entertaining family movie with a few endearing features. It’s always impressive to see how far CGI technology has come, and Astro Boy doesn’t fail to impress with soft, pleasing animation that gives testament to the original manga series. Despite its simplicity, Astro Boy’s story can at times be heart-warming in conveying themes of love, loss and newfound acceptance while also making occasional, subtle references to the mistreatment of slaves in times gone by. As a child actor who has always been well received for his performances Freddie Highmore’s lead performance as Astro Boy, while simplistic, is still at times touching.

Visually enthralling and often touching, Astro Boy still manages to be entertaining to a family audience despite its simplicity and children in particular will be mesmerised by Astro’s jetboots and other array of gadgetry. Fun albeit simple, Astro Boy makes for an entertaining package for the family.


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