Astro Boy

Rated 3.0

Flushed Away director David Bowers’ Astro Boy was one of the stranger brand-name productions of the summer 2009 season. Based on the Japanese cartoon series largely responsible for launching the anime genre, Astro Boy is an odd jumble of gee-whiz heroics, kiddie comedy, and a legitimately serious exploration of the emotional and moral dynamics of robot consciousness. Wall-E it ain’t, but the futuristic Metro City color palette is dazzling enough to forgive the occasional mood swing. Freddie Highmore voices the title character, a cyborg grade-schooler created by a grieving scientist (Nic Cage, astounding in his ability to give a terrible performance despite not technically appearing in the film) from the remains of his dead son. Astro Boy’s “father” tosses him on the junk heap that used to be Earth, but the robo-child is soon needed to save civilization.