De Niro attended PS 41, a public elementary school in Manhattan, through the sixth grade. He then went to Elisabeth Irwin High School, the private upper school of the Little Red School House, for the seventh and eighth grades. He was accepted into the High School of Music and Art for the ninth grade, but only attended for a short time before transferring to a public junior high school. De Niro began high school at the private McBurney School and later attended the private Rhodes Preparatory School, although he graduated from neither. Nicknamed "Bobby Milk" for his pallor, De Niro hung out with a group of street kids as a youth in Little Italy, some of whom have remained his lifelong friends. His stage debut was at age 10, when he played the Cowardly Lion in a school production of The Wizard of Oz. Along with finding relief from shyness through performing, he was also fixated by cinema, and he dropped out of high school at age 16 to pursue acting. He studied acting at HB Studio, the Stella Adler Conservatory, as well as Lee Strasberg's Actors Studio.
Although critics praised the visuals, originality, world-building and Giacchino's musical score, the general attitude toward the film was negative, with most criticism focused on incoherence in the screenplay, the characterization and an over-reliance on special effects.   However, the film has found a more positive response from audiences, particularly among a niche of female science fiction fans who appreciated the film's campiness and the film's deviation from typical gender stereotypes in a genre that is traditionally male-centered.