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Movie Review: The Iron Giant

Updated on September 2, 2017
Joseph Lawrence profile image

Joseph Lawrence (25) grew up in the New York area and is a recent college grad in Film Studies. He is a huge film buff and loves horror!

The Iron Giant poster (signature edition). The signature editions contains deleted scenes and remastered visuals.
The Iron Giant poster (signature edition). The signature editions contains deleted scenes and remastered visuals.

The Iron Giant

18 years ago, Warner Bros. Feature Animation and Brad Bird in his directorial debut brought The Iron Giant to theaters worldwide. During it's initial run, it was a disaster due to failed marketing and missed opportunities. However, like all hidden gems and classics, word of its greatness eventually got out. Now, the movie stands as one of the best american animated films. As a child, I watched it I'm sure. And up until now, I remembered bits and pieces. Nevertheless, watching it again reminded me of how timeless this film truly is.

The Iron Giant (Vin Diesel) and Hogarth Hughes (Eli Marienthal).
The Iron Giant (Vin Diesel) and Hogarth Hughes (Eli Marienthal).

The story takes place in 1957, during the height of the Cold War and after the launch of Sputnik. Needless to say, tensions are high. Then, an unknown object crash lands in the forest near the town of Rockwell, Maine. Later, nine-year old Hogarth (Eli Marienthal) who lives with his mother Annie Hughes (Jennifer Aniston), befriends the large metal-eating robot. With the help of junkyard artist and beatnik personality Harry Connick Jr. (Dean McCoppin), Hogarth does his best to protect the giant while teaching it what it means to be human. However, government agent Kent Mansley (Christopher McDonald) gets wind of the discovery and sets the military on a wild manhunt that threatens not only the giant but the people of the small town.

Kent Mansley (Christopher McDonald) and Hogarth Hughes (Eli Marienthal).
Kent Mansley (Christopher McDonald) and Hogarth Hughes (Eli Marienthal).

Besides it's well-done traditional and computer animation, the real draw when it comes to The Iron Giant is how its science-fiction narrative effortlessly blends in with its comedic and drama aspects. The comedy in the film is laugh-out-loud funny. The giant is lovable and packed with cool elements that would make any fan of science fiction marvel. More importantly, the movie gives lessons of morality and pushes the American spirit without seeming too overly morale.

Another big aspect of the film is the giant and how it interacts with others. It's peaceful until its defense mechanisms are triggered. Behaves like a reckless child until Hogarth teaches him the differences between right and wrong. And is overall innocent despite its huge, metallic structure. The charm behind the movie really lies within the narrative's ability to tell the story of friendship while never forgetting its war backdrop.

From left to right: Annie Hughes (Jennifer Aniston), Kant Mansley (Christopher McDonald), Dean McCoppin (Harry Connick Jr.), and Hogarth Hughes (Eli Marienthal).
From left to right: Annie Hughes (Jennifer Aniston), Kant Mansley (Christopher McDonald), Dean McCoppin (Harry Connick Jr.), and Hogarth Hughes (Eli Marienthal).

Verdict

Overall, The Iron Giant is a classic because it is a memorable, animated film for all ages. The giant is super cool, but what's most important is its subject matter. There are laughs to be had but it is serious in the moments that matter. Superman, an american comic book hero is used as symbol in the movie not only because of his power but also because of the movie's most important lesson. Where you're from, doesn't have to dictate who you are going to be

The Iron Giant is available on DVD, Blu-ray, and streaming on Netflix (for a limited time).

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