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'Astro Boy' comes to life in animation

Hollywood Wrap with George Pennacchio
October 21, 2009 12:00:00 AM PDT
Entertainment reporter George Pennacchio previews the animated adventure, "Astro Boy.""Astro Boy" is based on one of Japan's most famous comic book characters, and this story of an unlikely action hero now comes to life in CGI animation.

The boy robot is voiced by Freddie Highmore, who was new to the world of "Astro Boy" before he became involved with the movie.

"After you're approached for the role, you go and flick through the Manga comics. I missed the TV program," said Highmore. "He's such a special character. It was like working on something that's been a secret to the Western world."

Nicolas Cage voices the role of a brilliant scientist, Dr. Tenma. Unlike Freddie, Cage was very familiar with "Astro Boy."

"I grew up with 'Astro Boy.' He was in black and white, a cartoon straight out of Japan," said Cage. "There was something about the character because he is so small yet so powerful. I found him empowering and inspiring."

Cage's Dr. Tenma is a scientist driven to the edge after his only son is killed in freak accident in his lab. He builds a robot replica of the boy, one with incredible powers and he goes on to become "Astro Boy."

This film may be animated, but this isn't your standard kiddie fare. There are many adult themes running through the film such as: loss, acceptance, responsibility, and ultimately, destiny.

"As I continue on this path of filmmaking I've become very aware of the power of film," said Cage. "So I want to apply myself to movies that can do some good in some way. Movies like 'National Treasure' and 'Astro Boy' are positive in that they give families something to look forward to and give children hope. In these times, I think that's important."

"Astro Boy" is rated PG and is in theaters this weekend.


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