New Astro Boy Trailer Dazzles with Latest in Butt-Gun Technology
From the Weinstein Company to Delgo's ashamed parents at Fathom Studios, animation has often proven to be something of a fool's errand for independent studios and distributors. Focus Features is doing interesting things this year with Coraline and 9 (both with historical ties to Tim Burton, himself a former Disney animator), but they're perhaps the exceptions that prove the rule that money, brand and unparalleled technology own the feature-animation game in Hollywood. So what happens when the upstart Summit Entertainment throws its burgeoning heavyweight muscle behind a glossy new adaptation of the anime classic Astro Boy? As today's Two-Minute Verdict discovers, it might be better off sticking with Twilight.
I often wonder if studios beyond Pixar and DreamWorks (and occasionally Fox, when it's not poorly selling Wes Anderson films) actually realize how sophisticated children are -- that the target demographics for a film like Astro Boy couldn't care less about the title character unless he looks, sounds and truly feels believable. This trailer doesn't really bother selling him as such either literally (his mechanized frame gets a coat of little-boy paint in the first sequence) or figuratively; he moves, flies and behaves with a halting self-consciousness, as much an unfinished product of animators as he is of the scientists onscreen.
One of those scientists is voiced by Nicolas Cage, who delivers line readings with a flat affect belying the urgency of the paycheck at the end of this job. Freddie Highmore doesn't have to do much as Astro Boy himself, with the exception of barfing a few mouthfuls of cliches ("You want a piece of me?") as his character zooms through the candy-colored skies of Metro City. Nemeses swarm, rescues are made, and bullets are shot from one's ass -- perhaps Summit's most and least subversive part of it's latest Astro Boy sales pitch. Kids do love their scatology, especially any that results in a villainous robot's wounded eye. Right? Right? All right, well, it could always be worse.
VERDICT: Hung jury.