Director David Bowers Talks Astro Boy

The director of Astro Boy discusses how Star Wars influenced him and why he had to "cheat" with the animation!

Astro Boy has new life, thanks to the CGI magic of Imagi Animation Studios and the talent of voice actor Freddie Highmore. Created in the 50's in Japan as a work of manga (Japanese for "comic book") by Osamu Tezuka, Astro Boy was turned into a popular TV series that ran for three years in Japan before being exported to the rest of the world.

Directed by David Bowers(Flushed Away), Astro Boy has been updated and repackaged for a modern American audience, but with many nods to its Japanese origins, a process that was not without its challenges.

Bowers told AMC:

"It's such a rich story, and I think its themes are universal. I think American audiences are very used to superheroes, so it's not an enormous stretch for them. The only difficulty was having it be such a beloved character and having to decide what to retain and what to get rid of.

"I like origin stories. I think Richard Donner's Superman is still just about the best superhero movie ever made. And I think it's interesting to see where these characters come from and what their roots are. I think it would be hard to jump into an Astro Boy movie with him already fighting robots and battling aliens. Plus, I think the story, what happens to Toby and why Astro Boy is created, it's pretty compelling."

Since Astro Boy is his first sci-fi film, Bowers says that it was impossible to have a "retro-futurist" movie that didn't pay homage to some of the classics.

"I think things like Star Wars and Blade Runner have just been so influential that if you make a science fiction film you can't help but include elements. But I was just after making a very cool science fiction film, so I just threw all of the things I loved into a giant melting pot and tried to make something original from it. Somebody asked me during production, 'Who's this movie aimed at?' And I cited Star Wars as an example of a film I loved when I was ten years old -- I loved the robots and the space battles. And then when I came back to it as an adult, I loved Luke Skywalker's journey and his relationship with his father. So I hoped this movie too would work on different levels."

Despite his simple design, Bowers admitted that animating a flying robot sprite was not that easy.

"I probably shouldn't tell you this. The graphic image is great, but in three dimensions when he turns his head one of the hair points disappears. So I swap it over every now and again. So it points left in some shots and right in the others. It's just like Mickey Mouse's ears."

Astro Boy also features the voice talents of Nicolas Cage, Nathan Lane, Eugene Levy, Donald Sutherland, Bill Nighy and Samuel L. Jackson.

Astro Boy opens October 23rd!


Whispers68 Review of Astro Boy

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