Movie Review

Astro Boy a.k.a. “Astro,” “Astroboy,” “Atom”

MPAA Rating: PG for some action and peril, and brief mild language.

Reviewed by: Patty Moliterno
CONTRIBUTOR

Better than Average
Moviemaking Quality:

Primary Audience:
Kids Family Teens Adults
Genre:
Family Sci-Fi Animation Action 3D
Length:
1 hr. 34 min.
Year of Release:
2009
USA Release:
October 23, 2009 (wide—3,000+ theaters)
DVD: March 16, 2010
Copyright, Summit Entertainment click photos to ENLARGE Copyright, Summit Entertainment Copyright, Summit Entertainment Copyright, Summit Entertainment Copyright, Summit Entertainment Copyright, Summit Entertainment Copyright, Summit Entertainment Copyright, Summit Entertainment Copyright, Summit Entertainment Copyright, Summit Entertainment
Relevant Issues
Copyright, Summit Entertainment

Lying in the Bible

Truth

HEROES OF THE BIBLE—A single man or woman can help change the world. Read about some who did with faith and God’s help…
Jesus Christ, Noah, Abraham, Joseph, Moses, and David

Kid Explorers
Adventures in the rain forest! Learn about the Creator of the universe by exploring His marvelous creation. Fun for the whole family with games, activities, stories, answers to children’s questions, color pages, and more! One of the Web’s first and most popular Christian Web sites for children. Nonprofit, evangelical, nondenominational.

Featuring: Nicolas Cage (Dr. Tenma—voice), Matt Lucas (Sparx—voice), Kristen Bell (Cora—voice), Samuel L. Jackson (Zog—voice), Charlize Theron (“Our Friends” Narrator—voice), Bill Nighy (Dr. Elefun—voice), Freddie Highmore (Astro Boy—voice), Donald Sutherland (President Stone—voice), Moises Arias (Zane—voice), Nathan Lane (Ham Egg—voice), Eugene Levy (Orrin—voice), Madeline Carroll (Widget / Grace—voice), Ryan Stiles (Mr. Pistachio—voice), Sterling Beaumon (Sludge—voice), Victor Bonavida (Sam—voice), Tony Matthews (Cora’s Dad—voice)
Director: David Bowers
Producer: Imagi Animation Studios, Imagi Crystal, Tezuka Production Company Ltd., Pilar Flynn, Maryann Garger, Francis Kao, Cecil Kramer, Ken Tsumura, Paul Wang
Distributor: Summit Entertainment

“Have a blast.”

Astroboy was a Japanese series in 60’s. This plot of this movie is based on that series, however, with today’s graphics, this movie is a far cry from the original series. Toby (Freddie Highmore) is a nine year old genius who has no mother and his father, Dr. Tenma (Nicolas Cage) is the Ministry of Science for Metro City. The inhabitants of Metro City float above the earth and the inhabitants have robots shop, cook and serve them. They dispose of trash and broken robots by throwing them on the planet below.

Toby finishes with class early and looks forward to spending time with his dad, but his dad is too busy meeting with President Stone (Donald Sutherland) to show him the latest development known as The Peacekeeper. The giant robot will be fitted with a new energy source; Blue core energy is made by a fragment of an exploding star, but the byproduct is negative red energy. The dangers of red energy are unknown. Of course, the goal of President Stone is to take over the world, and he wants the Peacekeeper fitted with the negative red energy.

Toby sneaks into the lab as the experiment is being conducted. Toby is killed and the only thing left is his hat. Grieving, Dr. Tenma makes a robot that looks like his son, complete with all his memories. Toby is powered by blue core energy. Dr. Tenma doesn’t want to let his son far from him and decides to teach Toby at home, but soon realizes that although the robot looks like his son, he is not Toby. Dr. Tenma tells Toby he doesn’t want him anymore, and Toby ends up on the planet below assuming the name Astroboy.

OBJECTIONABLE CONTENT

VIOLENCE: There are fight scenes, blowing things up, and robots chasing Astroboy. There is a scene similar to Roman gladiator games. These are games for robots to fight until one robot is killed. Several different robots take on Astroboy. A robot tries to kill HamEgg (Nathan Lane). The evil robot continues to grow bigger and bigger and destroys most everything in its path. A girl kicks the President. Toby is killed.

LANGUAGE: Use of words such as Idiot. Astroboy says “I’ve got a machine gun in my butt”.

OTHER OBJECTIONABLE CONTENT: Toby steals a key card to get out of a room he has been locked in. There is a Lenin poster hanging on the wall in one scene. Dr. Tenma gives Toby Kant’s Critique of Pure Reason to read. A comment is made about HamEgg’s work repairing robots, and he says “It’s kind of a religious thing with me.” As HamEgg and the children sit down to eat, Astroboy says, “What have we forgotten”—“Grace,” and HamEgg tells a little girl named Grace to turn the TV on. Astroboy lies about being a robot because he is afraid of not being accepted. A sunbather is shown, and at the end of the movie Astroboy is shown with little clothing. There is one scene where 2 small robots are scared and “leak oil.”

POSITIVE CONTENT: There clearly is the message that everyone is created for a purpose. Furthermore, good versus evil is a theme throughout the movie. From the scientists in the lab to the robots, the audience is shown people making choices for good or evil. Astroboy is willing to risk his life to defend the people and planet against evil. He realizes that his purpose for being created is to defeat evil. One girl who has run away is shown reuniting with her parents.

God has called us to a life of choosing good. Psalm 34:14 says, “Turn from evil and do good; seek peace and pursue it.” This is an excellent movie to discuss the differences between good and evil and making choices that promote good. Astroboy is shown over and over making the choice for good, even at his own expense.

“Astroboy” is a cute movie aimed at children from about 5-7 and up. My youngest is 5, and he did get bored in a few parts, but he was not scared. However, I am sure some younger children will be scared with some of the fighting scenes. My entire family enjoyed this movie. It was entertaining with the wonderful message—we all have a purpose. We will see this movie again.

Violence: Mild / Profanity: None / Sex/Nudity: None

See list of Relevant Issues—questions-and-answers.


Viewer CommentsSend your comments
Comments below:
Positive
Positive—Saw this movie with my 6 year old daughter last Tuesday when they didn’t have school due to elections. I knew Astroboy since childhood from Japanese animators, it is not something new. The movie was above my expectations but not without issues.

It portrays love for family, friends, redemption and being faithful. It also depicts being unselfish, treating others first before you…risking your own skin for friends and other people that you don’t even know. Although part of the story shows how important family is, more emotion in the part of Dr. Temna would have made more impact. On the downside, there are mild terms that have already been mentioned by the author that should have been left out. I do believe that the positive outweighs the negative. All the good points in the movie exemplify what Jesus was saying on how to love your neighbor as yourself, treat others better than yourself and how to be unselfish. Parents should be able to capitalize on those positive scenes to be able to drive the point home.

There were touching moments in the movie that hit the soft part of both of us without giving it away, there is no replacement for somebody you’ve lost. My daughter was telling my wife who wasn’t with us, “Mom…Dad and I almost cried.” I do believe that she got the good points from the movie, she can connect the dots from Sunday school the driving principles behind it. I think it’s a movie worth seeing.
My Ratings: Moral rating: Better than Average / Moviemaking quality: 4
—Tades, age 42 (USA)
Positive—I liked this movie a lot. I thought that the character Astroboy gave a good example for people because he was very loving. I didn’t rate it Excellent because Jesus wasn’t actually discussed in the movie. Spoiler: I liked how Astro saved his enemies. He didn’t want them to die and he saved them.
My Ratings: Moral rating: Good / Moviemaking quality: 5
—Gina M, age 23 (USA)
Positive—I took my 4 year old, 7 year old and 9 year old to see this today. I can honestly say that it is one of the best movies for kids we have seen in a LONG time. I give it a 4.5 because there was a scary robot in it that could be frightening to some kids. My favorite quote: “You may not be Toby, but you’re still my son!”
My Ratings: Moral rating: Good / Moviemaking quality: 4½
—Claire Guthrie, age 39 (USA)
Neutral
Neutral—Our family was excited to see this movie. I noticed though that most of the way through the movie I really wasn’t connecting with many of the characters in a positive way. The father seemed very cold, distant and unloving to his son. Astro Boy, the human, didn’t strike me as a great role model either. He seemed very intelligent, but seemed bent on doing whatever he wanted, regardless of what adults or his father told him and would use methods like stealing to achieve his ends.

Overall, the movie seemed kind of depressive, and I noticed that none of us were really laughing—even at the spots where I think we were supposed to.

On the plus side, I thought the animators did a great job with many aspects of the movie. The quality of the animation and believability of it all was excellent. I thought the acting aspect of the movie was very good, mixed with the way the animators did the characters’ expressions etc.… was very believable. As the movie got farther along though, Astro Boy the robot begins exhibiting some characteristics that I thought were really positive (bringing dead robots back to life by sacrificing some of his life-giving power, recommending they say grace when about to sit down to eat, wanting to be honest and open with his friends, saving the entire city as it plummeted to earth, trying to save his friends as they got themselves in bad predicaments, and in the end, sacrificing his very life to end the reign of an evil robot).

Astro Boy’s father finally, in the end, finds a place in his heart for the robot son he created and was willing to give his life for him, but overall I felt really distant from the father character and found myself not really liking him or admiring him. I think the movie had some good positive elements. After watching a lot of Pixar movies lately though, I would say that “Astro Boy” was still missing a lot of those special elements that could have made it even better.
My Ratings: Moral rating: Better than Average / Moviemaking quality: 4
—Mike, age 41 (USA)
Negative
Negative—I viewed this movie along with my daughter at birthday party this weekend. I was a fan of the show when I was child but both of us found the movie not very interesting and very violent. My main issue with the movie is that the father accidentally kills his own son and then replaces him with a robot. It misses the point that we are all one of a kind creations from God and we cannot be replaced by anything made by man. The real Toby is gone and is not really thought about again (including where he may have gone) since there is robot to replace him.
My Ratings: Moral rating: Average / Moviemaking quality: 3
—Mary A, age 44 (USA)
Negative—We just saw this movie last evening, as a family. It was questionable??? We will not buy this as a DVD movie when it is released. I am anxious to hear what other Christians are saying about this film and plot, as it basically encouraged cloning and then the killing of the clone by its own father. Should this be viewed as a HATE CRIME? As people today are so quick in today’s world to protect some groups with adult decision making abilities, but not protect an innocent child? How is this not a hate crime? I am confused! The plot did eventually bring the clone back to life and in the end the father did the right thing, after he had already killed the son, of course.

The movie left my husband and I a bit unsure as to what kind of message it was leaving with our child as well. Is cloning Okay? And is it okay for the purposes of destroying it for another purpose? The message in the movie suggested it was okay to clone and also it is okay not to want the son/clone and to take the life away as well. The father character that ended his cloned son’s life in the movie, was a good guy, so the message in the movie is it must be okay, right? I am concerned that the value of life is being watered down and devalued in this movie, even though the main character is a robot, he was a robot with all his memories, and reasoning and compassion, which leaves to you believe ultimately he is very close to human—or human. Maybe it is okay…because it is just a cartoon?! Maybe the cartoon makes this subject easier to swallow?? Not for me.

We also thought the movie was too heavy for children on many levels. For example, in the beginning of the movie, the main character dies and this is played down because he is recreated by his father in a lab through one of his pieces of hair. The death of a child is a very heavy story line for most kids. Don’t you agree? Then, the father decides after his recreation… that he does not want the clone/son because he reminds him too much of the son he lost. So the father sends the clone away…alone into the world and he is an orphan now. Very troubling to me. Who comes up with this crap and what is their underlying goal here? You have got to wonder…

You think you are going to a family movie… and then you wind up spending $23 on something that you did want your child experience. Maybe we are reading too much into this, but I for one, am tired to Hollywood cramming all these liberal ideas down my kid’s throat. I will be more cautious next movie, for sure.…
—Alisa P. (USA)
Negative—Nauseating. …all …the …way …through… yes, even for a kids’ movie.
My Ratings: Moral rating: Good / Moviemaking quality: 3½
—Luke, age 19 (USA)
Negative—This was the usual liberal symbolism—not so subtle, aimed at kids. Bad military, bad USA—nothing new there—but pretty blatant. The thing we found really blasphemous was the symbolism that Toby’s father created all the robots… his “only ” son died while he was hoping good technology was being demonstrated… he then was working for a “few” days while his soon to be “resurrected” robot-son was being built… then the “son” was lifted off the table almost in a Crucifix-like position—being lifted by wires and “lights” toward the sky/heavens… Maybe others won’t see it this way—but we did—thought it was very obvious, intended, and blasphemous!
My Ratings: Moral rating: Very Offensive / Moviemaking quality: 3½
—Paulette, age 45 (USA)
Comments from young people
Positive—“Astro Boy” was certainly something different… There was no bad language or suggestive humor. Violence was constant throughout, but was bearable. Little kids may get scared during some scenes, but my age and older should be capable of enjoying such a clean, up-lifting movie with lots of action fun. I believe that most people would want to see this movie again!
My Ratings: Moral rating: Better than Average / Moviemaking quality: 4
—Emily, age 11 (USA)
Positive—You guys have got it all wrong! The movie was about forgiveness! Doctor Tenma did NOT kill Toby, Toby got in the way of something he should not have been around! He got cocky and was being nosy. We should not be so judgmental about things like this. I thought it was great, because I am a follower if anime and I think this was better than Osamu’s Tezuka’s! I think you should review Jungle Emperor Leo, too.
My Ratings: Moral rating: Excellent! / Moviemaking quality: 5
—Hannah Peters, age 12 (USA)
Positive—I went to this movie with three friends to celebrate one’s 17th birthday. We are all 17-19 years old, and though reluctant to be caught watching a kid’s movie (as nothing else good happened to be playing on Halloween), halfway through, we all agreed it was more interesting than expected. The graphics are amazing and fun to watch, with Toby being quite cute and likable as a protagonist. I was also pleasantly surprised that a movie assumedly directed at children had a deep emotional and psychological concept in its plot; what is Astro Boy’s purpose once it is realized he can never replace Toby, and can the Doctor find it in his heart to accept him as a son in spite of that? It is reminiscent of the story of Frankenstein’s monster; though as such, the concept may be a little too serious for a young child to handle, though I truly believe most of the children who watch this movie will be able to understand it.

I think people may be over-reacting to the concept of Astro Boy being a “clone.” Yes, he is built to replace the original, but he simply has Toby’s memories and the father learns that the two boys are different. It is a sci-fi movie (based off a Japanese manga made in the 1950s before real human cloning was possible), and as such, be aware that there will be sci-fi themes. My biggest complaint with the movie was the obvious bash of republicans by the not-so-subtle hints in what the antagonist says. -No matter what your stand on politics is, it’s just obnoxious and out-of-place for them to be in a kid’s movie. It made me feel as though an agenda was being sneaked into it and then thrown at my face every time the antagonist opened his mouth. –There was also a promotional sign over his podium that clearly said something about “no change” which sounds like an anti-Obama message. There was surprisingly only a small amount of crude humor in it; mentions of robots “leaking oil” as bodily fluids, a quick scene of a cartoon’s “cheek”, and the one gag about Astro having machine guns in his backside (which wasn’t as bad as I thought it would be). What the reviewer said about Astro Boy shown in little clothing; he is wearing the assumedly painted-on boots and black shorts his character is iconic for. Also, as he is a robot, I really had no problem seeing him in a pair of permanent shorts without a shirt. I don’t remember any cursing. I believe there was a misuse of God’s name by an excited bride-to-be, and one character yells “freaking robot,” though it is faded out and distant-sounding.

I feel they should have rounded-off a few cliché characters (honestly, I’ve seen the same personality traits recycled again and again in children’s movies and would like something a little more refreshing) and tried to target this movie at teenagers because I felt it too intense for children,—especially when seen in a theater. For one thing, Toby dies; truly dies and is gone from that world even though he is later replaced by the antagonist. There is a scene that I felt a little creepy where Astro finds himself in the robot “graveyard” where several zombie-like, disfigured and broken robots are attracted to him, seeking his battery, some even grabbing at him before losing power and dying. There are several other robots that “die” during the course of the movie, which may feel disturbing as some are sentient and have human emotions. A very frightening robot suddenly sucks a person into its body, making one believe the person has been absorbed or eaten; it also takes in the surrounding buildings and robots, growing into a giant almost half the size of the city. As mentioned, Astro Boy lies and steals.

On the other hand, I believe Astro Boy exhibits some admirable traits; he is self-sacrificing and merciful to people who have hurt him. He still loves his creator/father even after being rejected, and he tries not to harm anyone while fighting. All in all, I was glad we had decided to see this movie (I recommend it over “Where the Wild Things Are” for kids) I enjoyed this movie for the creative aspect of the plot and for the likability of the protagonist. I don’t feel that having watched it will hinder my relationship with God.
My Ratings: Moral rating: Better than Average / Moviemaking quality: 4½
—Kendi, age 17 (USA)
Positive—This was a good movie. I enjoyed it. It is a cool movie!!! I recommend it.
My Ratings: Moral rating: Good / Moviemaking quality: 5
—Joseph, age 12 (USA)
Positive—I went to see this with my mom and dad and a little girl I was babysitting. We enjoyed it, she was scared when the robot came, and grabbed my hand, but that was the only part she was scared about. If you really want to see it with younger than age five kids, I really urge you to wait till it’s on DVD. I am a big fan of the anime show though, and I thought it was great. Maybe not that good to see with ages four and below.
My Ratings: Moral rating: Good / Moviemaking quality: 5
—Hannah, age 13 (USA)
Positive—It was a great movie, although my mom started crying when he died, but, other than that, it was a good movie! Jesus Christ said love your enemies. And I think this was a good example. I can recommend this for all ages.
My Ratings: Moral rating: Good / Moviemaking quality: 4½
—Bethany, age 12 (USA)
Comments from non-viewers
Negative—We started watching this film with our 7 year old daughter and 1 year old son. We didn’t make it very far into the film as we turned it off when the dad began cloning his dead son. This part is only about 10 minutes into the movie. We were very disappointed that we were not able to watch the film but cloning is completely contrary to the Word of God.
—Jodi Robertson, age 36 (USA)