Metro City is suspended in the sky above the Earth. It is staffed by an army of robots that look after the city’s humans. The Earth below is a dumping ground for Metro City’s discarded robots. Toby (voice of Freddie Highmore) is a child prodigy and the son of Metro City’s head scientist Dr Tenna (Nicolas Cage). Toby follows his father to an experimental weapons test and is accidentally killed.
Unable to cope with the loss of his son, Dr Tenna uses Toby’s DNA to create an android. He programmes the android with his son’s memories and powers it with positive Blue Core energy. At first the android Toby believes he is the real Toby, but then he learns the truth and discovers that he has super powers. Dr Tenna realises that the android can never really replace his son, so he decides to deactivate him. At this point, the movie’s chief villain, President Stone (Donald Sutherland), demands that Tenna hand over the Blue Core energy. Toby manages to escape the clutches of President Stone, but is attacked by robot drones and falls to Earth.
On Earth, Toby is befriended by Cora (Kristen Bell), who is part of a gang of teenage orphans led by a character called Ham Egg (Nathan Lane). Toby doesn’t want them to know he’s an android, so he takes the name Astro and keeps pretending to be human. The gang spends its time rummaging through rubbish dumps for old robot parts. Ham Egg recycles these parts to create gladiator-like robots that are used in the ‘Games’. After using his Blue Core energy to reactivate an old giant robot called Zog (Samuel L Jackson), Astro wins the gang’s admiration and friendship. Ham Egg and the gang take Astro and Zog to the Games, but Astro learns that these involve robots fighting until they destroy each other. He refuses to let Zog be part of them. So Ham Egg betrays Astro, who is captured by President Stone and taken back to Metro city where he faces a struggle to survive.
Grief for the loss of a son; discrimination and prejudice
As well as cartoon and slapstick violence, Astro Boy contains several scenes that show more intense violence and danger resulting in large-scale destruction and death. For example:
- A large robot (called a Peace Keeper) gets very angry and threatens humans. He fires a blast of energy, causing an explosion that burns up Dr Tenna’s son, Toby. The death is not shown but the boy’s hat is all that is left.
- The android Toby thinks he is human. He falls out of the window of a high-rise building and finds he can fly. He crashes into buildings, a billboard and a bridge, and is chased by a speeding train.
- Droids chase Toby. He collides with car windscreens and is harpooned by ropes of green energy. A giant flying ship attacks him with dozens of missiles. When the missiles explode, Toby is flung through the air and knocked unconscious.
- A teenage girl gives a younger girl a chainsaw. The younger girl fires it up and chases other children. In the same scene, a young girl fires a crossbow, apparently at other children.
- Ham Egg shoots Astro with a taser-like weapon, knocking him unconscious.
- In a gladiator-style arena, Astro is forced to fight other robots. Robots with saw-like attachments attack Astro. Astro destroys a robot on an electrical barrier, and the robot explodes. Dozens of robots with various weapons attack Astro, but he destroys them all. A giant robot stomps on Ham Egg and tries to kill him, but Astro stops the robot’s foot from crushing Ham.
- Dr Tenna removes Astro’s energy source, which kills Astro. But Tenna has a change of heart and puts the energy source back, bringing Astro back to life.
- President Stone orders Tenna shot for treason.
- A giant robot (the Peace Keeper) shovels President Stone into his mouth.
- In an extended action scene, the Peace Keeper attacks Astro. During the fight we see Astro’s arms transform into cannons. Astro shoots the Peace Keeper; the Peace Keeper throws Astro through the air; a building falls on the Peace Keeper; the Peace Keeper tries to eat Astro; the Peace Keeper uses a building like a baseball bat and hits Astro through the air like a ball; machine guns appear out of Astro’s buttocks and shoot the Peace Keeper in the face.
- The Peace Keeper chases a group of children and young teenagers in a flying car.
- Astro deliberately flies into the chest of the Peace Keeper, and both explode. After the explosion, Astro lies on the ground with his arm partly cut off. We are told that Astro can’t be fixed. But another robot brings him back to life.
Content that may disturb children
In addition to the violent scenes mentioned above, this movie contains some scenes that could scare or disturb children under eight. For example:
- When the android Toby is being animated, tubes go into his body and he is raised up into the air and filled with electrical power.
- Scary zombie-like robots grope at Astro Boy after he falls to Earth.
- A giant robot called a Peace Keeper has a threatening dangerous mouth that young children could find scary. Towards the end of the movie, the Peace Keeper keeps getting bigger and more scary.
- Dr Tenna grieves for the loss of his son, so he creates an android to replace him. But he resents the android when he realises that the android cannot really replace his son. An emotionally intense scene shows android Toby being rejected by Dr Tenna, who tells Toby, ‘I don’t want you’.
Younger children in this age group might also be disturbed by some of the scenes and themes described above.
Children in this age group are unlikely to be disturbed by anything in this movie.
None of concern
Alcohol, drugs and other substances
This movie contains no use of substances.
Nudity and sexual activity
None of concern
None of concern
Astro Boy contains some mild coarse language and insults.
Ideas to discuss with your children
Astro Boy is an animated action adventure. It is tailored to a younger audience (8-13 years), but it contains some dark themes and some images that could scare younger children.
The movie’s main messages include the following:
- Your humanity is not defined by your DNA but by what you can do for other people.
- It can be a challenge to find your purpose or destiny in life.
Values in this movie that you might wish to reinforce with your children include self-sacrifice and the importance of friendship.
This movie could also give you the chance to talk with your children about the following real-life issues:
- Is violence an effective way to solve problems?
- Should one group of people (in this case, the people on Earth) be disadvantaged or not valued because they are less technologically advanced than another group (the inhabitants of Metro City)?