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Astro Boy makes silver screen debut


He stands just 135cm tall, wears red wellies, has arms made of steel, fingers that can shoot powerful laser beams, and has rockets installed on his feet that enable him to fly. He can also speak 60 different languages.
His name is Astro Boy.
Even if that name doesn`t ring any pop-culture bells you have mostly likely seen him at least once while shopping or flipping through TV channels.
From cartoon series, to comic books, to video games, to toys, Astro Boy has been around the block and back.
And now, he is ready to hit the big screen with a revamped feature film adaptation of the classic anime character from the land of the rising sun.
During a press conference at the CGV multiplex in Apgujeong, Southern Seoul on Tuesday, the U.S.-produced film had its first ever unveiling, with the Korean actors that lent their voices to the Korean version in attendance.
Former child actor and rising star Yoo Seung-ho ("The Road Home") plays the film`s title lead, with Nam Ji-hyun as Cora - Astro Boy`s girlfriend and close confidante.
Rounding out the cast is film actor Cho Min-ki, who will portray Dr. Tenma, and comedian and television personality Yoo Se-yoon as the villainous General Stone.
Based on the 1951 Japanese comic book by Osamu Tezuka and later a hugely popular cartoon serial which ran from 1963 to 1966, the story is loosely based on Pinnochio but set in the distant future where Astro Boy fights crime and injustice caused by alien invaders.
Considered the first Japanese Manga to embody the aesthetics of contemporary Japanese animation, its author is widely regarded as the "God of Manga."
Cho, who was a fan of the cartoon serials as a child, said during the news conference "Growing up I never had the action figures of Astro Boy, but once I grew up, I began collecting memorabilia related to all things Astro Boy," and added "although this is my first foray into voice acting, I took on the role as seriously as I would a live action one, because I`m such a fan of the anime."
As for Yoo, the voice of the film`s eponymous lead, he said, "I`ve never actually seen the cartoons, but I know of the immense popularity of the character and how iconic he is and I`m honored to have been given the role."
Feeling as if the atmosphere of the unveiling was a bit too formal for the quirky comedian`s liking, Yoo Se-yoon got his two cents in.
"This is my second time granting my vocal services to an animated film, after `Horton Hears a Who,` so I felt like the elder statesman who could offer advice to my inexperienced underlings here," he joked.
Later, the 29-year-old funnyman was asked whether he enjoyed playing a villain.
"I do enjoy playing bad guys and I would love to be in a lot of movies playing baddies, but no one seems to want to cast me - which is a problem."
The English language version of the film features Nicholas Cage as Dr. Tenma, Freddie Highmore as Astro Boy, Kristen Bell as Cora, and Donald Sutherland as General Stone.
The film is set for a November release in Korea.

By Song Woong-ki