Saturday, October 24, 2009

All the Astro Boy You Need to See

Astro Boy opened yesterday. My husband and I saw a screening of it at Japan Society on Tuesday. Our impressions: Eh.

This clip is pretty much all you really need to see. I went into the screening with a mix of excitement (wanted to see a film based on a popular Japanese manga and TV character) and trepidation (not a fan of Nicolas Cage and Nathan Lane, who provide voices for a couple of the characters). After seeing the movie, I want to see the original TV series, and I still dislike Nicolas Cage and Nathan Lane.

Perhaps it's unfair for me to judge this movie since I never saw the TV show or the live-action movie and know next to nothing about the Astro Boy manga series. But I can judge bad acting. And there's plenty of it in this film. Nicolas Cage – his 1995 Oscar for Leaving Las Vegas notwithstanding – has always been bad, in my opinion. In Astro Boy, he continued to disappoint. There is no feeling or emotion in his voice; it's as if he's just reading his lines. The only thing I liked about Nathan Lane's character was his name: Hamegg. Mmm, I love me some ham and eggs, but Hamegg as a character did nothing for me.

That's probably because there were holes in his story and the rest of the plot as well. The movie did not do a good job of explaining Hamegg's situation and his relationship with Cage's Dr. Tenma, who, as a brilliant scientist, created Astro Boy to replace his dead son, only to cast him aside. Another annoying big Hollywood name is Donald Sutherland, who was also phoning it in as the voice of General Stone, the president of Astro Boy's hometown of Metro City. General Stone never let us forget that he was running for re-election, and that annoyed me almost as much as the sound of Nicolas Cage's voice. Outside of Astro Boy himself, the only characters I liked were Trashcan and Zog.

Don't just listen to me; read real reviews of the film, including Glenn Whipp's in the LA Times and Manohla Dargis's in The New York Times.

I like the concept of Astro Boy, but it lacked in execution. If nothing else, it helped me discover Osamu Tezuka's original "Mighty Atom". There is an entire community dedicated to Tezuka's creations, and while I'll never join that community, I can certainly appreciate it more than the movie.


Marc said...

It was bad, and it didn't help that the Japan Society managed to project 2 out of 3 reels out of focus.

shrinecastle said...

True, that didn't add to our viewing pleasure, did it?