Voices: Freddie Highmore, Nicolas Cage
Direction: David Bowers
Adapted from the comic book by the iconic Japanese artist Osamu Tezuka, this animated tale follows the adventures of a pint-sized robot wunderkind.
Combining vibrant visuals and stylized set designs with a simple storyline, Astro Boy is a bonanza for the kiddie brigade.
Older viewers, however, are more than likely to be underwhelmed by the strident socio-political subtext.
Filmed at a Hong Kong animation studio, British director Bowers (Flushed Away) keeps the action flowing at a steady pace.
After his son dies in a freak accident, a scientist (Cage) creates a robot replica in his dead child’s image.
Subsequently rejected by his father, the metallic superhero (dubbed with relish by Highmore) embarks on a mission to save earthlings from the clutches of a war-mongering president (Donald Sutherland).
The outstanding ensemble voice cast also includes Nathan Lane as a Fagin-like guardian figure and Charlize Theron as the film’s narrator.
Astro Boy doesn’t come close to matching the splendour of such ’toons as Pinocchio, The Iron Giant and Wall-E (all three of which influenced the film).
Still, it’s fun while it lasts.