Astro Boy

Movie review by
Sandie Angulo Chen, Common Sense Media
Astro Boy Movie Poster Image
Action-packed adventure a fun bet for young superhero fans.
  • PG
  • 2009
  • 94 minutes
Popular with kids

Parents say

age 7+
Based on 28 reviews

Kids say

age 8+
Based on 27 reviews

A lot or a little?

The parents' guide to what's in this movie.

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 & Representations

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
Drinking, Drugs & Smoking

What 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.

User Reviews

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

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 f... Continue reading
Parent of a 9 year old Written bySaft-e November 15, 2009
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. Twic... Continue reading
Kid, 9 years old October 12, 2010

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... Continue reading
Teen, 13 years old Written byFILMCRITIC500 April 6, 2012

superhero flick piles on the violence, but is OK for tweens

this was a good movie. its packed with explosive action, mass destruction, and over the top humor. the violence is fairly intense, starting with a child death,... Continue reading

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?

Director David Bowers (Flushed Away) isn't revolutionary in his approach to animation, but he has a keen eye for action sequences. He also cleverly captures 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.

Talk to your kids 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

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