So I know nothing about the original anime the movie is based on. But this is supposed to be a kid's movie right? Made for the express enjoyment of the younger age bracket? Then please someone tell me why it is so DEEPLY UNSETTLING?
I will tell you why. Because someone must.
The movie begins with a charming bit of animation detailing a futuristic city in the sky named Metro City, because that is the most bland and generic a name you could ever ask for. Oh and did I say this bit was charming? I meant troubling. So troubling. Why? Well as a chipper Charlize Theron perkily narrates, everyone in the city uses robots to do the crap they don't want to do. And they are fucking vicious about it. We see a happy robot put on a fancy little hat and get into car, Charlize tells us that some robots have more important jobs than others. The happy robot's car slams into a wall. This one was a crash test dummy. Robots are hit with cars, shown to be slaves and-here's the kicker, when they are worn out, they are tossed over a cliff to the surface world below.
Yeah, my hair hasn't been really pink for awhile now. But my cartoon will have it forever because I have decreed it so. Yeah.
Anywhoo, after that bit of mind-molestation, the brain-rape proper begins as we meet little Toby, voiced by Freddie Highmore trying desperately to suppress his English accent. Toby is kind of a butt and also the son of famed robotics...dude, Dr. Tenma, who looks like he was bred for mad science insanity:
It certainly doesn't help that he was voiced by Nicholas Cage, trying desperately to suppress the fact that he is not human
So Toby is a precocious little genius child and is sad because his dad never spends any time with him because he is too busy with SCIENCE. So one day, when Tenma is testing out a robot called the Peacekeeper (it kills shit) for the loony-ass president, voiced by Donald Sutherland, who is only getting more senile, Toby decides to visit to see the robot. Without permission, and by rewiring his butler robot in an invasive manner, and also sneaking into a secure area he was expressly told not to go to. Toby is kind of a butt.
Anywhoo, Toby is in for a wacky surprise when the Peacekeeper goes haywire and incinerates him! And his father gets to watch him die!
I refer you to my previous "WHADDAFUUUCK?"
But that's not all kids, Tenma then goes insane and in a fit of grief builds an exact robot replica of his son, puts an unstable core in it, and gives it all of Toby's memories by extracting his DNA from all that was left of him: a hair follicle. Because that is how science works.
Just ask Jurassic Park
So the robot wakes up as Toby, unaware that anything is different. But there's a problem. Actually, there's several problems: What the hell is Tenma going to tell robo-Toby when he doesn't age? What the hell-ass balls is he doing building this abomination towards God anyway? And most importantly, if you do not plan on telling your robo-son that he is in fact a robot, why in pluperfect hell would you give him a machine gun in his ass?
But ignoring all that other crap, the problem is that new Toby is kind of different from old Toby and so Tenma, like a fickle toddler except twenty times more horrifying, decides this whole "creating a robot clone of my dead son" thing was a bad idea and disowns robo-Toby, who has no idea what the hell is going on. He has all of Toby's memories and for all intents and purposes, he IS Toby and Tenma is his dad and his dad is basically throwing him off the used-robot-cliff. DUDE. So with the government after Toby because of his super-magic-awesome core and no home to call his own, he escapes to the surface world, which is like futuristic Oliver Twist in that it sucks and is filled annoying orphan children. Toby changes his name to Astro, lies to the kids and tells them he's a human and they take him back to their home, which is a bunch more orphan children and Nathan Lane.
His name is Ham Egg (I dunno), and he runs a robo-battle ring when not creepily presiding over his child-lair. He pervs on Astro and is just generally uncomfortable until he finds out Astro is a super-bot and if you can believe it, pervs even HARDER. It is truly perv of Pagemaster proportions.
WHAT THE HELL IS WRONG WITH THIS MOVIE?
Ok, so Astro does escape Captain Pedo-pants and eventually returns to Metro City, defeats the Peacekeeper, bi-polar Tenma loves him again, yadayada. The damage has already been done. Let's recap: A movie about a boy who is brutally killed but sort-of brought back in robot form only to be disowned by the only father he has ever known, hunted by the government and enslaved/not-quite-molested by Nathan Lane. In a world where robots are treated like garbage.
Thankfully, most of this was lost on Dread Pirate Roberts. But I still got scarred for life, so thanks for that one, Astro Boy. At least he never stripped down to his undies like the cartoon.
This is Sugary Cynic, sobbing gently on the inside and blaming Nicholas Cage. 'Night!
Astro: "What? I got machine guns... in my butt?"