Australian Council on Children and the Media

Astro Boy

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Not recommended under 5, PG to 10 due to violence, scary and disturbing scenes.

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This topic contains:

  • overall comments and recommendations
  • details of classification and consumer advice lines for Astro Boy
  • a review of Astro Boy completed by the Australian Council on Children and the Media (ACCM) on 15 October 2009.

Overall comments and recommendations

Children under 5 Not recommended due to violence and scary scenes
Children 5-9 Parental guidance recommended due to violence and scary and disturbing scenes.
Children aged 10 and over OK for this age group

About the movie

This section contains details about the movie, including its classification by the Australian Government Classification Board and the associated consumer advice lines.

Name of movie: Astro Boy
Classification: PG
Consumer advice lines: Mild animated violence
Length 94 minutes

ACCM review

This review of the movie contains the following information:

A synopsis of the story

Metro City, a floating city suspended in the sky above the Earth is manned by an army of automated robots that tend to every whim of the City’s human inhabitants. 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). When Toby follows his father to an experimental weapons test, the boy is unintentionally killed.

Unable to bear the loss of his son, Dr. Tenna creates an android replacement using his dead son’s DNA, programming the android with his son’s memories and powering it with a positive Blue Core energy. Initially the robot Toby believes he is the real Toby, but then learns the truth and discovers that he has super powers. Dr. Tenna then becomes disillusioned with him and decides to deactivate his creation. At this point the film’s chief villain President Stone (Donald Sutherland) enters the picture, demanding that Tenna hand over the Blue Core energy. Toby manages to escape the clutches of President Stone, but is attacked and 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 lead by a Fagan like character called Ham Egg (Nathan Lane). Not wanting to be found out to be a robot, Toby takes on the name Astro and maintains the pretence of being human. The gang spends their time rummaging through rubbish dumps for old robot parts which Ham Egg recycles to create gladiator-like robots to be used in “Games”, and 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 when Astro learns that the Games are a fight between robots to the death, he refuses to let Zog participate. In response, Ham Egg betrays Astro who is eventually captured by President Stone and taken back to Metro city where he faces a struggle for survival.

Themesinfo

Children and adolescents may react adversely at different ages to themes of crime, suicide, drug and alcohol dependence, death, serious illness, family breakdown, death or separation from a parent, animal distress or cruelty to animals, children as victims, natural disasters and racism. Occasionally reviews may also signal themes that some parents may simply wish to know about.

Grieving the loss of a son; discrimination and prejudice

Use of violenceinfo

Research shows that children are at risk of learning that violence is an acceptable means of conflict resolution when violence is glamourised, performed by an attractive hero, successful, has few real life consequences, is set in a comic context and / or is mostly perpetrated by male characters with female victims, or by one race against another.

Repeated exposure to violent content can reinforce the message that violence is an acceptable means of conflict resolution. Repeated exposure also increases the risks that children will become desensitised to the use of violence in real life or develop an exaggerated view about the prevalence and likelihood of violence in their own world.

As well as cartoon and slapstick type violence, Astro Boy also contains a number of scenes depicting more intense violence and peril resulting in large scale destruction and death. Examples include:

  • A large robot (called a Peace Keeper) becomes enraged and threatens humans. He fires a blast of energy, causing an explosion that incinerates a teenage boy, Dr. Tenna’s son (Toby). The death is not shown but the boy’s hat is all that remains.
  • Robot Toby, while believing himself human, falls out of the window of a high rise building and after finding that he can fly, crashes into buildings, a billboard and a bridge, and is chased by a speeding train.
  • Toby is chased by droids, colliding with car windscreens and being harpooned by ropes of green energy. He is attacked by a giant flying ship and dozens of missiles are fired at him. 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 up the saw and chases other children. In the same scene a young girl fires a cross bow, 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 combat other robots in a fight to the death. Robots with saw-like attachments attack Astro and Astro destroys a robot on an electrical barrier with the robot exploding in pieces. Astro is then attacked by dozens of robots wielding various weapons and destroys them all. A giant robot stomps on Ham Egg with the intent of killing him, but Astro prevents the foot from crushing the man.
  • Dr. Tenna removes Astro’s energy source, effectively killing him, 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 (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 with Astro shooting the Peace Keeper, the Peace Keeper throwing Astro through the air, a building falling on top of the Peace Keeper, the Peace Keeper attempting to eat Astro, the Peace Keeper wielding a building like a baseball bat hitting Astro through the air like a ball, and machine guns appear out of Astro’s buttocks and shooting the Peace Keeper in the face.
  • A group of children and young teenagers in a flying car are chased by an enraged Peace Keeper robot.
  • Astro deliberately flies into the chest of an enraged Peace Keeper robot, with both Astro and the Peace Keeper exploding. Following the explosion, we see Astro lying on the ground with a partly severed arm and we are told that Astro can’t be fixed. Astro is then revived and bought back to life by another robot.       

Material that may scare or disturb children

Under fiveinfo

Children under five are most likely to be frightened by scary visual images, such as monsters, physical transformations.

In addition to the above-mentioned violent scenes, there are some scenes in this movie that could scare or disturb children under the age of five, including:

  • Images of robot Toby being animated, with tubes going into his body and being raised up into the air and filled with electrical power
  • Gruesome zombie-like robots grope at Astro Boy after he falls to Earth
  • A giant robot referred to as a Peace Keeper has a threatening dangerous mouth that young children may find scary. Towards the end of the film, the Peace Keeper robot mutates, becoming bigger and more frightening looking with each transformation.
  • Dr. Tenna’s grief for the loss of his son, his creation of an android to replace his dead son and his resentment towards the android when he realises that the android cannot replace his son. An emotionally intense scene depicts robot Toby being rejected by Dr. Tenna, who tells Toby “I don’t want you.”

Aged five to eightinfo

Children aged five to eight will also be frightened by scary visual images and will also be disturbed by depictions of the death of a parent, a child abandoned or separated from parents, children or animals being hurt or threatened and / or natural disasters.

Children in this age group are also likely to be disturbed by some of the scenes and themes described above

Aged eight to thirteeninfo

Children aged eight to thirteen are most likely to be frightened by realistic threats and dangers, violence or threat of violence and / or stories in which children are hurt or threatened.

Younger children in this age group may also be disturbed by some of the scenes and themes described above

Over thirteeninfo

Children over the age of thirteen are most likely to be frightened by realistic physical harm or threats, molestation or sexual assault and / or threats from aliens or the occult.

Nothing of concern

Product placement

None of concern

Sexual references

None of concern

Nudity and sexual activity

None of concern

Use of substances

None of concern

Coarse language

Astro Boy contains some mild coarse language and insults. Examples include:

  • I’m so busted, losers, stupid, holy cow, dirty hippy, butt guns, Oh my god!

In a nutshell

Astro Boy is an animated action adventure which is tailored to a younger audience (8 -13 years) but contains some dark themes and some images that may scare younger children.  

The film’s main messages include:

  • Humanity is not measured by a person’s DNA but by what they contribute to, or sacrifice for, humanity.
  • Finding purpose or destiny in life is challenging.

Values in this movie that parents may wish to reinforce with their children include:

  • self sacrifice
  • the importance of friendship

This movie could also give parents the opportunity to discuss with their children attitudes and behaviours, and their real-life consequences, such as:

  • the use of violence to solve problems
  • whether one group of people (in this case those on Earth) should be disadvantaged or viewed as being of lesser worth because they are less technologically advanced than another group (the inhabitants of Metro City)

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