Atom 2009 (Astro Boy 2009) Movie Review
Today (10/10) was the opening day of the movie Atom (or Astro Boy for the international releases) which is an animated film about a robotic boy named Atom. Atom was based on the manga by Osamu Tezuka, known to many as "The god of manga", and was originally released in 1952. I went into the movie having only seen the first ep (requires a Nico Nico account) and just skimmed the manga so all in all Atom was still pretty new to me but I came out of the theater pleased overall.
(Dr. Elefun on the left, Dr. Tenma on the right)
As with the majority of animated movies based outside of Japan, you're given a choice of watching the movie in Japan with Japanese subtitles or seeing it dubbed. I chose the English version for two reasons: One, it was the only one playing at that time. And two, I'm a pretty big fan of Samuel L. Jackson, who plays ZOG, and Nicholas Cage, who plays Dr. Tenma. Now I'm not the type of fan that will stick by any movie that my favorite actors play in and defend them if I genuinely don't think they did a good job and, at the beginning of the movie, I felt that they made a huge mistake in casting Nicholas Cage. My biggest problem with him playing the part was I felt his voice didn't match the appearance of Dr. Tenma enough to give it justice. In animation movies this day in age if the lead character is played by a famous actor then normally those characteristics are easy to recognize in their animated counterpart. But for Nicholas and his role, no matter how hard I tried I couldn't match up the two. As the film progressed those details faded away and what I was left with is a father and how he tries to cope with... *cough* (I won't try to go into too many details >.>)
Atom flying up up and away! (The movie is actually better in quality so don't judge on this picture)
The other characters on the other hand acted out their roles flawlessly. Atom's voice actor, Freddie Highmore, was amazing, giving Atom far more life than I felt the original actor did. But not only him, the minor characters acted so well that, with everyone working together, they formed magic so grand that even Disney - Pixar wouldn't do a double take. Speaking of studios, 'Imagi Animation Studios', who worked on this and TMNT, produced animation so visually stunning that it has to be one of the most vibrant, most fluid animated films I've ever seen in a western animated movie.
The story, while a bit altered from the original, worked for what it was trying to do. I don't necessarily agree on the way they went about changing Atom's creation (again, I don't want to spoil >.>) but unless you're a die-hard fan I'm sure you can forgive them. The only thing I can really complain about is, it pretty much takes away anything "Japanese" from this and makes it a pretty clear-cut western release. But perhaps that's what Osamu Tezuka would have wanted. He grew up inspired by Mickey Mouse and Bambi so perhaps this is one of the bigger honors we can pay tribute to him by having it shown in such a way.
I end this little review saying both old school fans give and people who have only heard of Atom (how could you not?) should give this movie a shot. It's a cute little film with plenty of action, drama and laughs that you can expect from animated movies these days. It airs on the 23rd for America. Check this list for more dates for where you live. That said, are any of you planning on seeing it?
Here's a trailer for those of you still undecided :)
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