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In this French animated feature, pre-teen tyke Will (voiced as a perky American in the English-language release by Landen Beattie), the son of a pair of explorers, is literally lost in space. Separated from his parents, he gets marooned on a strange planet with only a helpful semi-spherical robot named Buck (Jason Anthony) for companionship. This classic, Robinson Crusoe-style conceit is imaginatively built on to create a likable survival story skewed towards kids.
As Will and Buck explore the desert-like terrain further, they discover a semi-tropical zone full of intensely coloured flora and fauna with the spongy-smooth texture and retina-searing colour palette of injection-moulded plastic toys. Director Eric Tosti and his team have cleverly included surprising dangers, such as giant hailstones and poisonous plants that require the duo – and eventually a doggy-cum-caterpillar-cum-dragon sidekick creature they name Flash – to find resourceful solutions to their problems.
Clearly, this is meant to teach kids about self-reliance, cooperation, the value of outdoor adventure and risk-taking; and the obligatory environmental sentimentalism is also present and correct. The animation is fluent and densely rendered, although sometimes the characters have less subtlety than their surrounding environment. But, compared with the relentlessly noisy animated features coming out of Hollywood, this is refreshingly old-school and innocent.
• Astro Kid is released in the UK on 23 August.
Source: The Guardian
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