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Astro Boy


Stars: VOICES: Freddie Highmore, Nicolas Cage, Donald Sutherland, Eugene Levy, Bill Nighy, Charlize Theron, David Alan Grier, Alan Tudyk, Kristen Bell, Samuel L Jackson, Nathan Lane, Matt Lucas

Director: David Bowers

I imagine that most actors must really enjoy voicing cartoon films since the genre allows them chances to ham it up (and many do) and saves them from the embarrassment of being recognised. (And male performers don’t even need to shave before going to work if they prefer not to).

It’s yet another Americanised take on a popular Japanese manga character vividly brought to life by CGI animation which gives the lively affair something of the sheen of a well-produced comic book. There’s more than an echo of ‘Frankenstein’ in the key storyline which has scientist Dr Terma creating the lad as a robot double of his own dead son. Fortunately this theme is not harped upon, so that youngsters who are the target audience will settle on the thrills and action rather than (one hopes) worrying about the somewhat creepy premise of a surrogate son.

Astro Boy’s adventures as he soars into the sky to save a futuristic city and its inhabitants should prove to be very digestible for youngsters with its expertly blended mixture of gaudy animation, powered-up storyline and plenty of mad monsters, riotous robots, slam bang fights and feisty set pieces - while the vocal casting works well too.

Highmore adopts a mid-Atlantic accent as Astro, Cage chews the (CGI) scenery as his dad, Sutherland enjoys himself as a crooked (is there any other kind?) politician and Nighy, Theron. Lane and Levy do their bits well, all proving that hallowed cinema adage 'actors are better heard than seen'.

Alan Frank

US/Hong Kong/Japan 2009. UK Distributor: E1 Entertainment. Colour.
94 minutes. Widescreen. UK certificate: U.

Guidance ratings (out of 3): Sex/nudity 0, Violence/Horror 0, Drugs 0, Swearing 0.

Review date: 22 Feb 2010