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Astro Boy

An animated family film about a pint-size super-hero

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After a terrible accident, a child is rebuilt as a lifelike robot, with a host of super-duper new skills. Frustrated in his cushy world of elites, Astro Boy (voiced by Freddie Highmore) leaves home and heads for the more dystopic parts of Earth. There, he joins up with some plucky abandoned kids, and hones his newfound skills staging robot battles. That is, until evil aliens invade ... David Bowers' animated film, based on the 1960s TV cartoon, is bright, colorful and contains enough action to keep the kiddies seated. Adults will be pleased that Astro Boy is more thoughtful than mouthy, and that there's a smattering of more mature themes related to mortality, the fallibility of parents, technology, the military-industrial complex and class. Besides Highmore, other actors lending their voices include Nicolas Cage, Billy Nighy, Samuel L. Jackson and Kristen Bell. In all, not a bad way for the family to spend a rainy Saturday afternoon. Starts Fri., Oct. 23.

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