11/3/09

I, Astro Boy


Every once in a long while I will walk out of a theater with a sense of awe. The gears in my head are spinning at profound rates while the rocket boosters in my legs propel me home. Astro Boy takes the deep, profound existential questions of what it means to be human vs. a robot and completely ignores them in favor of a ridiculous brand of emotion-driven physics and random Asimovian references that allow you to completely ignore the movie in favor of the questions it fails to ask.

Which is oddly compelling seeing as the average child is not normally predisposed to such questions. Well, I say: "Why not?!" The average child is inundated by cheesy cartoon fluff with predictable themes and mindless comedy a good percentage of their growing life. Why not grow their minds with the questions of life and reality and what it means to be a real person? Why not let them grapple, along with the flying robot spray bottle, with freedom verses duty? Along with the trash-dump robots, revolution in the face of absolute, tyrannical control? And along with the president of Metro City, power and popularity verses responsibility and small government?

The compelling take on a man's love for his son in this story is one that has never been seen in the history of film. After his biological son dies, the father sets to work creating a perfect robot replica and, just like absolutely none of the genius fathers before him, instantly regrets it. Such bitter turmoil sends the scientist into madness. But, luckily, there is a wise old scientist by his side to act as the voice of reason. Would that we all were so lucky to have a faithful, guiding counselor by our side with the calming voice of Bill Nighy, the voluptuous nose of Bozo the Clown and the deductive reasoning to infer that the blue energy is good while the red energy is bad.

Astro Boy is a lesson in physics, love, friendship, family, politics, revolution, robotics, philosophy, betrayal and probably a lot of other things all rolled into one. Is there too much on his plate? Heck no! He's frakkin Astro Boy! And with an introverted look into one's own tortured, betrayed and slightly mechanical psyche, one realizes... that so am I.