Here he meets a gang of misfits lead by Cora (voiced by Kristen Bell) who has run away from home but still yearns to reach out and call her parents. Cora and her friends live with Ham Egg (voiced by Nathan Lane) who likes to repair robots only to have them be part of his own “Robot Wars” where they proceed to fight and destroy each other for the sake of entertainment.
When Ham Egg decides to put Astro Boy himself into the “Robot Wars” everyone finds that maybe robots are able to mimic human emotion and aren’t meant for the scrapheap after all. When the evil plot is discovered that General Stone wants to start a war between humans and robots so that he himself can save the day and win an election, Astro Boy must return to the surface to defend the people and defeat General Stone.
If the script sounds like a huge hodgepodge of far better movies it’s because it really is. Everything from Spider-Man and Wall-E to The Incredibles and Pinocchio are stolen from at a moment's notice. Most kids might not care but it shows a complete disregard for originality and undermines children’s intelligence.
Most of these issues are possibly to blame on director Bowers' co-writer Timothy Harris. He has brought upon us the likes of some lackluster scripts. While some were better than others (Trading Places, Brewster’s Millions, and even Kindergarten Cop), he has also “blessed” us with the likes of Twins, My Stepmother is an Alien, Pure Luck, and Space Jam. Oh sure, some of the worst offenders here were crowd pleasers, but what does that say about the general movie-going public? There are a few jokes that really do work but those are very early in the film as everything begins to fall apart minute by minute.
The animation isn’t a complete bust; however, I would like to note that this is the first digitally projected screening I have ever attended that was out of focus for the entire duration of the film. Hopefully it is at least crystal clear for regular showings so that the film only puts a strain on your brain and not your eyes as well. There are far worse children’s films released every year at a continuing rate so if you’re truly interested in seeing how they’ve managed to blunder through another comic book adaptation, look no further than the most current abomination.
Photo courtesy Summit Entertainment