Plot: Set in futuristic Metro City, a young robot with incredible powers is 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.
Pre-View Opion: When I saw stills and footage of Astro Boy at NYC's Comic Con this Spring, I didn't really get all that amped for the film. I mean, it looked awesome, but I wasn't that invested in the character himself. The director, David Bowers, upgraded from Flushed Away's stop motion to full-on fancy animation. He's had experience developing such films before with Shark Tale, Balto, The Road to El Dorado, and (my childhood favorite) Who Framed Roger Rabbit, but now he's in the big leagues. The graphics look almost as fantastic as WALL-E. The writer, Timothy Harris, hasn't actually written anything since 1996's Space Jam. Now, I can't really describe the effect that that film had on children, but I can tell you that as a babysitter of two hyper children during that year, I will never ever ever watch that movie again. I can still hear the music. Before animation though, Harris wrote some very iconic pop culture classics like Trading Places, Kingerarten Cop, Twins, and My Step Mother is an Alien. Those two guys working together showed promise for a humorous and dramatic tale of bravery.
Post-View Opinion: After seeing the trailer, and spotting a female non-robotic heroine, a band of goofy sidekicks, and enough action to sustain even the most ADD of children, I was pretty much sold.
Release Date: October 23
Fantastic Mr. Fox
Plot: Angry farmers, tired of sharing their chickens with a sly fox, look to get rid of their opponent and his family.
Pre-View Opinion: I'm not really a fan of stop motion animation. The trailer for Wallace & Gromit didn't entice me to sit still for an hour and a half. However, I do admit that since this film is adapted from a novel written by the critically acclaimed Roald Dahl (James and the Giant Peach), and the film was directed by the similarly respected Wes Anderson (Royal Tenenbaums), it should be no surprise that this animated action comedy won't be your average kiddie flick. Then, of course, there's the fact that Meryl Streep, George Clooney, Bill Murray, Willem Dafoe (Spiderman), Anjelica Houston, Brian Cox (X-Men), Owen Wilson, Jason Schwartzman, Adrien Brody, and Wes Anderson himself are voicing the characters.
Post-View Opinion: Filled with kooky hijinks, it reminds me of an even more childish version of Ocean's Eleven—complete with snappy dialogue, a heist orchestrated by a rag-tag team of misfits, and even a smooth sly fox voiced by the ultimate initiator Clooney himself.
Release Date: November 13