We were lucky to peruse a few new clips for Imagi's shiny new adaptation of Osamu Tezuka's Astro Boy. Below, we describe each dazzling scene, along with a few new stills. Has Imagi lived up to the Astro Boy legacy?
Firs off, go ahead and breathe a sigh of relief — the modern day Imagi recreation is very close to the Tezuka Astro Boy we know and love. The feel, look, attitude and even his robot smile all remain in the Tezuka wheelhouse. Imagi Studios went to great lengths to make sure that it stayed that way throughout the film, they even brought in Tezuka's son to keep them all in line.
Their efforts weren't in vain: the shiny, robot-heavy futuristic floating city of Metro City (Earth itself being too dirty for any civilized folk to inhabit) is full of charm and style. The whole place practically glitters, it looks so clean and new, but the warmth that is little Astro Boy is still there. He still struggles with acceptance in this world, his loveless relationship with his maker and father Dr. Tenma (voiced by Nic Cage) and finding a place where he belongs.
At the special preview show for Astro Boy, director David Bowers took us through a host of clips detailing decisions made by the international production, which had studios both in America and in Japan.
The first clip showed the "birth" of Astro Boy. A somber Dr. Tenma, channeling his inner mad scientist, is hell bent on bringing his recently deceased son back to life. All that remains of his little boy is a red baseball cap. But that's okay, because the Ministry of Science has the know-how on how to extract human memories from one strand of hair. He scrolls through blueprints and crafts together a body. The round Dr. Elefun appears (voiced by Bill Nighy) with the all important blue-core energy. The glowing matter is what brings the little robot to life, but as with all things that contain such great power there's a down side — but more on that later. Lights flash electricity is shot out in a Dr. Frankenstein-esque manner and the little boy comes to life, to the mesmerized delight of Dr. Tenma.
The entire creation moment was fantastic, but it raised the only concern I have for this picture. Is Nic Cage too familiar? Granted, Cage is a huge fan of Astro Boy, and at the meeting Bowers explained how Cage had tried to bring a live-action Astro to life, once upon a time, but still something about his voice removed me from Tenma. Ah well, it's a small complaint, that I'm sure will be cast aside after you view the movie longer than a few short minutes — here's hoping, at least.
The next clip showed the problem with robot and human assimilation. Sadly once Tenma brings the little Astro home he doesn't act exactly like his dead son. This makes Tenma angry, and he sends him to his room debating on whether or not to throw him out forever, since he's just a constant reminder of his former kid. Little Astro sits on his bed, totally unaware that he's a robot and wonders why his father no longer loves him. But while he's moping a little pair of worker bots come to his window, Mr. Squirt and SQUEEGEE, and guess what they do? The two little bots talk amongst themselves in their secret robot language, and all of a sudden little Astro realizes he too can speak the robot lingo. And soon takes off on a rocket boot self discovery flight pattern, where he punches right through a mountain.
The robots in this picture are brilliant, especially the hap-hazard creations from Ham Egg (Nathan Lane's Oliver Twist Fagin like character). They allow for a lot of creativity and exploration as to how far the science has grown, plus I love robots that have one particular job, like Mr. Squirt.
As we mentioned before, the blue core power source presents a problem for the wee robotic wonder. The government, represented by the evil tongued Donald Sutherland's President Stone, craves the blue bit of energy and will stop at nothing to get it. Even if that means deploying a whole fleet of flying soldiers, in futuristic flying machines. The army blasts Astro with their ammo trying to get his gears to go kaput, so they can deliver the goods to their leader. Who, in turn, builds an even bigger Peace Keeper Robot (first picture) who does anything but keep the peace. Instead the giant beast absorbs power, growing stronger and stronger and in turn, wrecks havoc on the floating city.
In the end it looks like it's up to Astro and his band of dirty Earth-bound misfit friends and their trash-can dog to save the day from the giant robot.
Bottom line: the movie is about more than just cute robots and funny characters. The few clips we viewed were polished to perfection, and the original feel of Tezuka's series is intact. I really hope American kids learn to embrace this character because he's got the rocket boot-strappy know-how of a great hero. Plus who doesn't love that hair? So far so good, we can't wait to see more.
The full trailer will be released in September but you can see more clips next week if you'll be at San Diego Comic Con on Thursday in room 6BCF.