I went into this movie absolutely wanting to hate it for even existing. I grew up watching Astro Boy on TV, read the manga years later, I even took a trip to the museum of creator Osamu Tezuka while in Japan. When I first heard of this latest adaptation, I anticipated a desecration of everything I grew up loving about this popular science fiction series.

Dr. Tenma (voiced by Nicholas Cage) builds Astro in the image of his dead son, hoping to fill the void after his sudden and tragic death. But the scientist quickly rejects his creation, realizing that he cannot re-create his son, or become the father he never was. Astro (voiced by Finding Neverland’s Freddie Highmore) leaves the confines of his home to seek out his purpose in the world, soon finding himself defending all sorts of characters with his newly discovered powers.

The animation is good, up there with the best of this current generation’s CG tales. Where the movie fails is in its plot. It tries to be cute, supplying zany Disney-like characters that any child would laugh at. Astro comes across as complacent with every situation he finds himself in, never really developing his own personality.

The attempt to turn Astro into a character with mass appeal falls flat, and the film ultimately doesn’t materialize into anything worthwhile. The plot is bland and unimaginative, and fails to capture the optimism and fun of the original series. You’re better off watching the old TV show. Seek it out and enjoy Astro the way he was meant to be seen.

Astro Boy opens nationwide on October 23rd.

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