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A view on Blu-ray by Gary W. Tooze

 

Astro Boy [Blu-ray]

 

(David Bowers, 2009)

 

 

Review by Gary Tooze

 

Production:

Theatrical: Tezuka Production Company Ltd.

Video: Summit Entertainment

 

Disc:

Region: 'A'-locked (as verified by the Momitsu region FREE Blu-ray player)

Runtime: 1:33:48.623

Disc Size: 33,349,821,458 bytes

Feature Size: 25,403,062,272 bytes

Video Bitrate: 29.58 Mbps

Chapters: 18

Case: Standard Blu-ray box inside slipcase

Release date: March 16th, 2010

 

Video:

Aspect ratio: 2.35:1

Resolution: 1080p / 23.976 fps

Video codec: MPEG-4 AVC Video

Bitrate:

 

 

Audio:

DTS-HD Master Audio English 3957 kbps 5.1 / 48 kHz / 3957 kbps / 24-bit (DTS Core: 5.1 / 48 kHz / 1509 kbps / 24-bit)
Dolby Digital Audio Spanish 640 kbps 5.1 / 48 kHz / 640 kbps

 

Subtitles:

English (SDH), Spanish, none

 

Extras:

Two New Animated Sequences;

Astro vs. the Junkyard Pirates (3:30 in HD!)

The RRF In: The New Recruit (1:12 in HD!)

Inside the Recording Booth (5:54 in HD!)

Designing a Hero (10:42 in HD!)

Building Metro City (7:34 in HD!)

• Getting the Astro Boy Look (2:50 in HD!)

Astro Boy Image Gallery: Creating a Global Icon (4:59 in HD!)

 

Posters:

 

 

Description: Set in futuristic Metro City, Astro Boy is about a young robot with incredible powers created by a brilliant scientist in the image of the son he has lost. Unable to fulfill the grieving man's expectations, our hero embarks on a journey in search of acceptance, experiencing betrayal and a netherworld of robot gladiators, before he returns to save Metro City and reconcile with the father who had rejected him.

 

 

The Film:

The comic-book world plumbs our deep craving for saviors – mostly found from lonely and rejected outsiders who win the love of their adopted world by saving it from destruction over and over again.

And now, taking his pint-size place in the pantheon, is Astro Boy, a big-screen animated adaptation of the popular Japanese manga about a robot boy. It's a tale originally created by the late, great Osamu Tezuka in Japan decades after Americans swooned for Superman, the orphaned superbeing from a destroyed planet, and a decade before Spider-Man, an orphaned teen who becomes part superspider.

 

The plea for love and compassion for robots, as a representation of outsiders, brings freshness to Astro Boy's journey. That and the daring to put the finality of death and irreparable loss front and center in a movie so clearly geared toward children.

Excerpt from NANCY CHURNIN / The Dallas Morning News located HERE

 


Image :    NOTE: The below Blu-ray captures were taken directly from the Blu-ray disc.
 

Astro Boy strikes a nice balance between, a sort of homage to, the simple animation of its roots whilst fitting in some stronger effects that come through very well in 1080P resolution. The style is nicely replicated with some expected updates. Astro Boy is a very kinetic film and the lead character zips around the screen enthusiastically - and it looks very impressive. This is dual-layered with a high bitrate and no flaws that I could detect.  As we have said in the past - digital animation is that it is essentially perfect - especially in this medium where it should have none of the common deficiencies that we can find when transferring live-action film to digital - things like edge-enhancement or noise removal manipulation. Haze and blurriness are intentional effects to create the perception of motion. Out-of-focus experiences are simply created to make the true focal object more primary to our vision. By rendering digital animation to Blu-ray we get a significant replication of the original intent. What would be more of a concern is how you might feel about the style. They have taken the old Astro Boy (same cowlick) - cleaned him up, given his surroundings brighter colors and dimensionality and produced some excellent visuals. I think the Blu-ray, and the film itself, look fabulous.

 

CLICK EACH BLU-RAY CAPTURE TO SEE ALL IMAGES IN FULL 1920X1080 RESOLUTION

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Audio :

The DTS-HD Master 5.1 at 3957 kbps probably doesn't have enough 'ummphhh' to be reference but I suspect it is supporting the original soundstage quite adeptly. I prefer the lack of overly dynamic bass that might be distracting to the story. This sounds very crisp and consistent - occasionally impressive without blowing your windows out or rattling your floorboards. I appreciated the restraint and enjoyed the theme music. There are English or Spanish subtitle options and my Momitsu has identified it as being a region 'A'-locked.

 

 

Extras :

No commentary and actually the supplements are a bit fluffy with only about 30-minutes in total and the advertised 'Two New Animated Sequences'; Astro vs. the Junkyard Pirates + The RRF In: The New Recruit total less than 5-minutes. Inside the Recording Booth gives us some soundbytes from Kristen Bell, Nicolas Cage, Donald Sutherland, Freddie Highmore and director David Bowers plus the producers discussing the casting. Designing a Hero is the longest piece taking a more technical standpoint of the decision making process for the eventual look of the young protagonist. Building Metro City expands on the details and options for the creation of that visual effect - ditto for Getting the Astro Boy Look (haircuts for boys) and finally we get a Astro Boy Image Gallery: Creating a Global Icon with plenty of international posters etc. I would have thought throwing in a couple of the old episodes would have been a nice touch - but no luck.

 

 

BOTTOM LINE:
Well, mixed reaction from the critics but my kids certainly have a new favorite film in our house. Immediately upon the conclusion of Astro Boy, my youngest (yes, we ignored the rating), requested we see it again - immediately. I think, this is the first time that has happened. Personally, I kinda liked the film - but really loved the ending. I wasn't much of a fan or the original but this seems to have taken the concept and characters to a more polished level. I appreciated that they didn't alter things too far as it had plenty of the early 60's TV series kitsch (The Complete Original Series available on DVD HERE). Predictably, the Blu-ray is flawless in its presentation and I admit to liking the film - while both my kinds loved it. Your call - but if you have an inkling of keenness - I'd say give it a spin.  

Gary Tooze

March 7th, 2010

 

 

 

About the Reviewer: Hello, fellow Beavers! I have been interested in film since I viewed a Chaplin festival on PBS when I was around 9 years old. I credit DVD with expanding my horizons to fill an almost ravenous desire to seek out new film experiences. I currently own approximately 9500 DVDs and have reviewed over 3500 myself. I appreciate my discussion Listserv for furthering my film education and inspiring me to continue running DVDBeaver. Plus a healthy thanks to those who donate and use our Amazon links.

Although I never wanted to become one of those guys who focused 'too much' on image and sound quality - I find HD is swiftly pushing me in that direction. So be it, but film will always be my first love and I list my favorites on the old YMdb site now accessible HERE.  

Gary's Home Theatre:

60-Inch Class (59.58” Diagonal) 1080p Pioneer KURO Plasma Flat Panel HDTV PDP6020-FD

Oppo Digital BDP-83 Universal Region FREE Blu-ray/SACD Player
Momitsu - BDP-899 Region FREE Blu-ray player
Marantz SA8001 Super Audio CD Player
Marantz SR7002 THX Select2 Surround Receiver
Tannoy DC6-T (fronts) + Energy (centre, rear, subwoofer) speakers (5.1)

APC AV 1.5 kVA H Type Power Conditioner 120V

Gary W. Tooze

 

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