Astro Boy

  • Review Date: October 13, 2009
  • Rated: PG
  • Genre: Family and Kids
  • Release Year: 2009
  • Running Time: 94 minutes

Common Sense Media says

Action-packed adventure a fun bet for young superhero fans.
  • Review Date: October 13, 2009
  • Rated: PG
  • Genre: Family and Kids
  • Release Year: 2009
  • Running Time: 94 minutes

Age(i)

2
3
4
5
6
7
8
9
10
11
12
13
14
15
16
17

Quality(i)

 

What parents need to know

Educational value

Kids learn about inclusiveness through the orphans and their early acceptance of Astro Boy, as well as about mustering the courage to defend others through Astro Boy's actions.

Positive messages

Despite the fact that Dr. Tenma does something clearly unethical by creating a robot with his dead son's memories, the movie has several positive messages. Cora's ability to forgive Astro Boy for not revealing that he's a robot shows kids that it's his character -- not his "parts" -- that make him a good friend. And Astro Boy's decision to bravely put himself in danger because he's the only one who can fight the negative energy is an example of selflessly overcoming obstacles and accepting your own responsibility.

Positive role models

Although the hawkish Metro City General and his cronies are basically warmongerers, most of the role models are positive. Dr. Tenma redeems himself by saving Astro Boy, and Astro Boy himself acts bravely and selflessly to stop the negative-energy killer robot. Cora is also a positive role model, as she's not a damsel-in-distress type but rather a confident, capable girl.

Violence & scariness

A lot of weapon-based explosions and disasters when the "negative energy" is unleashed. Several robots are destroyed throughout the movie, most of them a bit comically during their Coliseum-like battles to the "death." A child dies (off screen).

Sexy stuff

Astro Boy and Cora flirt mildly, but it's not more than a couple of looks and a hug.

Language

Characters occasionally say mildly insulting words like "idiot" and "stupid," and there are a couple of jokes about weapons growing out of Astro Boy's "butt" and the "sudden release" of a robot's "bodily fluids."

Consumerism
Not applicable
Drinking, drugs, & smoking
Not applicable

Parents Need to Know

Parents need to know that this animated robot superhero adventure based on the 1960s anime series Astro Boy is age-appropriate for elementary-schoolers. It has fairly sophisticated themes (grief, loss, and war), as well as plenty of cartoon action violence -- including the death of a child, the destruction of several robots, explosions, and robots armed with heavy artillery. But language is limited to mild insults like "idiot," and there's no product placement to worry about. A war-obsessed military man is presented as a humorously negative character; on the opposite end of the political spectrum is a trio of revolutionary robots who call each other "comrade" and have a poster of Lenin in their meeting place.

Parents say

Kids say

What's the story?

ASTRO BOY chronicles the adventures of a weaponized robot (voiced by Freddie Highmore) created by grieving scientist Dr. Tenma (Nicolas Cage) in the exact likeness of his deceased son, Toby. The distraught scientist, whose son died during a dangerous demonstration for Metro City's war-mongering General Stone (Donald Sutherland), allows Astro Boy to believe that he's really Toby ... until the boy accidentally falls out of a window and realizes he can fly. Escaping from a now-remorseful Dr. Tenma before he can shut him down, Astro Boy lands in the "garbage heap" below Metro City that is the over-polluted Earth. He runs into a band of orphans led by Cora (Kristen Bell) and Sludge (Moises Arias), who live with Ham Egg (Nathan Lane), a seemingly kind pseudo-adoptive father who runs a Coliseum-like show where robots battle to the death. When Astro Boy is outed as a robot, he must fight for his life again -- and summon the courage to save everyone from General Stone's nefarious plans to start a bloody war.

Is it any good?

QUALITY
 

Director David Bowers (Flushed Away) isn't revolutionary in his approach to animation, but he has a keen eye for action sequences and for capturing the comedy and tragedy of a robot who thinks he's a boy who realizes he's a superhero. Highmore has the perfectly sweet, emotive voice to play Astro Boy, and Cage sounds appropriately haunted as Dr. Tenma, who really just wants his son back. The scene-stealers are Sutherland and Lane, both of whom provide the movie's laughs by playing their characters as amusing and incredibly twisted egomaniacs.

Equal parts AI, Pinocchio, and WALL-E, Astro Boystrongly recalls each with its themes of a robot clone made for agrieving parent, an artificial boy wanting to become real, and thescary prospect of a future in which Earth becomes nearly uninhabitable andpeople must live somewhere else completely dependent on technology.But kids will be mostly unaware of these heavier themes,except for those who understand the obvious allusion to Pinocchio. Older viewers will get a kick out of the deceitful, hawkish General Stone, whose campaign slogans ("It's Not Time for Change") and outright desire for war are reminiscent of George C. Scott's General Turgidson in Dr. Strangelove. Astro Boy may not launch a thousand sequels, but its humor and boy-friendly superhero premise make for an entertaining diversion.

Families can talk about...

  • Families can talk about how Astro Boy compares to other superheroes. He's created as a robot with special powers, rather than born or accidentally transformed. How does Astro Boy accept (as Spider-Man says) that with great power comes great responsibility?

  • Do you think the movie's more mature themes will resonate with kids? What other movies touch on issues related to technology, pollution, war, and the like? Is this appropriate material for a kids' movie?

  • How is Toby's death handled? Many children's movies feature the death of a parent, but it's rare for the death of a child to be included. Kids: Would you have preferred for Toby to be transformed into Astro Boy rather than die?

Movie details

Theatrical release date:October 23, 2009
DVD release date:March 16, 2010
Cast:Freddie Highmore, Kristen Bell, Nicolas Cage, Samuel L. Jackson
Director:David Bowers
Studio:Summit Entertainment
Genre:Family and Kids
Topics:Superheroes, Adventures, Robots
Run time:94 minutes
MPAA rating:PG
MPAA explanation:some action and peril, and brief mild language

This review of Astro Boy was written by

About our rating system

  • ON: Content is age-appropriate for kids this age.
  • PAUSE: Know your child; some content may not be right for some kids.
  • OFF: Not age-appropriate for kids this age.
  • NOT FOR KIDS: Not appropriate for kids of any age.

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Quality

Our star rating assesses the media's overall quality.

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Learning ratings

  • Best: Really engaging, great learning approach.
  • Very Good: Engaging, good learning approach.
  • Good: Pretty engaging, good learning approach.
  • Fair: Somewhat engaging, okay learning approach.
  • Not for Learning: Not recommended for learning.
  • Not for Kids: Not age-appropriate for kids; not recommended for learning.

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Parent of a 2 and 3 year old Written byHoneyMommy November 2, 2009
AGE
11
QUALITY
 

Young kids watching young kids get beaten and killed? Bad Idea

I'm not usually one to urge people to boycott something I don't like. I try to reserve that for the super serious issues, and keep the attitude that for the average stuff, "to each his own". But as a fellow parent, I would be grossly remiss to not warn you to at least THINK TWICE before taking your kids to see the movie ASTRO BOY! Most of us with small kids don't get to go to the movies often anyway, but every now and then a good animated film is advertised, captures our kids' attention and seems worth the risk to attempt a trip to the cinema. My kids are usually great at theatres, so when a fun cartoon comes out we jump at the chance to see it and get some movie-theatre popcorn. So was the case with Astro Boy. My warning to you is that this movie is highly inappropriate for young children. It was deceivingly advertised and marketed to young kids. Firstly, it's a cartoon, with a kinda bubbly animation form that usually translates to "safe for kids" content. Secondly, it's about a kid. Thirdly, they pushed it at little kids with Astro Boy toys in HappyMeals (those are for young kids, right) But most importantly, it got a PG rating. And it really is not for kids. WHAT'S INAPPROPRIATE ABOUT ASTRO BOY? In a nutshell: -There is a ton of GUN violence -The words "kill" and "die" and "dead" are said constantly throughout -The young star of the film is KILLED in the first 15 minutes of the movie. (it's an explict scene as he cries to his father to save him) -It's full of abuse, neglect, and violence towards children or child-like characters. -The fight scenes are long, scary, and gruesome -There's a ton of political messaging I'm assuming this movie managed to get a PG rating because, technically, there is no explicit foul language, nudity, or sex. But it baffles me because there is a great deal of explicit violence that is very scary for young children. And since when did kid's movies replace moral messages with political ones? I know that sometimes, there's a gray area between the two, but this movie was clearly more political than moral. And despite what my own political opinions may be, I don't want political innuendo constantly reiterated (literally over and over) to my 3 year old during a cartoon. I want my kids to be happy-go-lucky little kids for quite a while longer. It was uncomfortable for me to watch this movie with my kids, and by the end, my 3 year-old was wailing. His heart was heavy, he was sad and scared, and saying he did not like this movie. It was sad without being redeeming and violent without being exciting. Now, personally I'm a free spirit who feels that all forms of entertaiment have a place, because no one brand of entertainment fits all people. Again, I have always had a "to each his own" view of this, and still do, even with regards to this film. I believe it's a parents responsiblity to protect their own children from inappropriate content in media and elsewhere. And in that spirit, that's what I tried to do. Ideally, I would have spent the (excessive) $11.00 for a movie ticket (and 2 hours of my life) to go the the movie by myself and pre-screen it before taking my children, to make sure it was appropriate. But, is that realistic? No! Instead, I did the best I could as a parent (who had already had this movie over-marketed to my 3-year-old before I even knew about), I read the summary, I read reviews, and I looked at the rating. None of which gave any clue of the violence or death contained in the movie. So after being begged by a kid who had recieved an Astro Boy toy with his Happy Meal, and saw commericials that did not hint to any of the violence, I spent $50 to take my family of 4 to an early matinee. And so that's why I'm writing this message, now. As parents we need to look out for eachother, right? When product marketing becomes our nemesis, when rating systems fail us, and when reality just does not allow for us to "pre-screen" everything, we need the help of fellow parents! It's why we band together for mom's clubs and playdates, and why we give recommendations on everything from car seats to cribs. I wish someone had warned me about this movie before I traumatized my own kids with a so-called "treat to the theatre." Unfortunately, my husband and I both think that this "mis-rating" of movies is a growing trend. Since animated movies tend to do better in the box offices, it seems like producers are pushing through "adult" themed movies in animated form. Maybe I'll just have to start doing that $11 self-screening, afterall. Having said all this, I'm not advising anyone NOT to see it, I'm just warning you to think twice before you take your kid(s).
What other families should know
Too much violence
Kid, 9 years old October 12, 2010
AGE
6
QUALITY
 

VERY..... VIOLENT....... MOVIE

I Don't think this movie is any good. anyway a guy dieing at the start of the movie but brought back to life? that was a little to tense for kids that are 5 and under and scary for those with hyper or exellent imagination A.K.A me also the alien attack is slightly scary but we all know that aliens cannot float like that and they dont even exist the peacekeeper is violent when it comes to say im voting for the other guy yeah yeah violent but preety good
What other families should know
Too much violence
Parent of a 9 year old Written bySaft-e November 15, 2009
AGE
9
QUALITY
 
I just took my daughter to see this movie and I am totally disappointed by what I saw. The dad was completely unsupportive and the child died three times. Twice was the dads fault. It was a terrible picture and had my daughter crying. I would not recommend this movie to anyone and we definitely will not purchase this one when it comes out on DVD.

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