Tuesday, October 20, 2009
When I was a kid I used to watch the Astroboy teevee series religiously... but then a couple of years ago Ma picked up some of the episodes on video for me so I rewatched them... and I couldn't believe how unspeakably twee it was and what a total Goody Two Shoes Astro was.
Fortunately when they made the new Astroboy movie that managed to avoid falling into that trap.
However, they've also made a movie that never really manages to rise above the average.
It's also an origin story... so you have to get all the "how did X become Y" stuff out of the way (which you would think that they could almost do away with to some degree since the character has been around for a while now... but everybody likes to put their stamp on a story)... which does inevitably lead to a "been there, seen that" kind of feeling.
It didn't stretch the boundaries on any front really... the story was engaging, but nothing new... the animation was good, but you kinda expect that these days... and the All Star voice cast possible was more distracting than usual (at least for somebody who knows movies). And, yes, I know I'm not the target demographic for the movie, but it still should have been better than it was.
That's not to say that it wasn't watchable... it was... but that's about the best you can say about it.
I was also slightly disappointed that it took quite so long for Astroboy's familar "black hotpants, red gogo boots" ensemble to put in an appearance. I do remember reading something where they said that they were being more cautious or something given that he's a little boy that essentially flies around in his underwear shooting things with guns that come out of his butt... but I kinda think they waited a little too long. There were many and varied opportunites towards the end of the movie for him to show up in the familiar outfit and save the day, and it never really happened, which I think was something of a mistake.
As far as the aforementioned All Star voice cast goes, I thought Freddie Highmore was excellent as Astro, although since he's now 17, he doesn't sound like the kid I remember. Kristen Bell also does a great job as Cora... but then I do have a soft spot for her. Unfortunately though, because I can't stand Nicolas Cage in anything, ever, he was a little hard to stomach as Astro's father.
It also seemed to be something of a transatlantic cast... there were probably as many English actors as there were Americans, and like I said, far too many voices that I recognised and that pulled me out of the moment.
But when you compare this to something like Up, it's instantly apparent why Pixar are the reigning monarchs of all things animation, and everybody else lags being as a very distant second.
yani's rating: 7 blue energies out of 10