Film: 'Doraemon in Nobita and the Steel Troops: The New Age'; Director: Yukiyo Teramoto; Voiceovers: Masaharu Fukuyama, Yumi Kakazu, Koji Kato, Subaru Kimura; Rating: ** - a disappointing fare.
There's an old tradition of treating children's content with lightness. The usual justification given for making bad children's films is that put anything moving in front of kids, and they will like it (by that logic, there's no need for any specialised content for kids).
And it is this same malady that 'Doraemon...' suffers from, with a substandard story and execution. And it's a greater sin considering that it comes from Japan, the nation that has made some of the most cutting-edge animation films ever. Yet, it does uplift itself a bit with a good message in the end.
Nobita and Doraemon discover a plot by a robot race to take over the planet. They manage to fool the robot army but have to contend with a female robot who can make or break their plans. Can Nobita, Doraemon and his gang of motley friends stop world destruction?
Japan has a very rich tradition of animation films. So much so that it has created a unique identify for itself with 'anime'. Masters like Osamu Tezuka and Hayao Miyazaki among a host of other luminaries come to mind.
And in that genre, the robot anime genre was and still is the most popular Japanese export to animation. It is hence disturbing to see a film that does not match up to the high standards set by these masters, both in terms of animation and story.
There are other problems with this version of Doraemon. A female robot is objectified as a pretty, young thing in the film. Later, she is shown stark naked in the scene. Yes, it is a robot but it has a female body with a bust and curves. Showing her naked in front of children should not have been permitted, even in Japan. It almost borders on child pornography and is like surrogate advertising of alcohol. Though it is mineral water or music that is seemingly being advertised, the whole world knows that it is actually alcohol.
Yet, the humanity of the film rescues it a bit from its pits of darkness. The message is love, compassion and humanity. If robots can develop humanity, surely humans can develop a little more of the same for each other.
Thankfully, unlike other Hindi dubbed films, Disney has done a decent job of dubbing the film. The Hindi in the film does not feel jarring to the senses.
In the end, thus, the ones who will really like the movie are die-hard fans of the TV series. Though as a film it may not totally work, seeing their darling robots doing antics not on a little TV screen, but in cinemascope, would be worthwhile for fans of the series. The rest can conveniently give the film a miss.