The Iron Giant is a science fiction animated film that also works well as a period piece, presenting the paranoia and fear of the Cold War era in a way kids can understand. Honestly, most of those details flew over my head when I first saw it because I was too busy watching the awesome giant robot that every young boy would love to have. The giant is surprisingly likable as a character, and his climactic sacrifice and survival are actually quite affecting.
The film’s storyline shares many aspects with Spielberg’s E.T.: The Extra-Terrestrial: boy finds alien creature, befriends and hides said creature from parent, government comes looking for it, and creature dies but doesn’t. Yet, while E.T. was basically helpless and at the mercy of overly curious scientists, the iron giant is a fifty-foot-tall menace that the Army assumes is there to level towns and such. This policy of shoot-first-ask-questions-later is irritating but understandable, considering the era involved, with the Russians having just beaten the U.S. to space with Sputnik.
While the animation is not nearly Disney quality, it is serviceable to the story and doesn’t detract much from it since the plot and characters are more important. The CGI giant is mixed nicely with the hand-drawn people and backgrounds, but my VC found the animation distracting. There’s also some very funny parts, such as Hogarth’s reaction to coffee; this helps to make the film more kid-friendly since it does tackle some more adult concepts. After all, a child is interrogated and drugged by a government agent, and the threat of a nuclear holocaust is made very real in the finale. (Wouldn’t there be some effects from an atomic bomb exploding in the atmosphere, though?) Plus, some repeated minor language and crudity earned The Iron Giant a PG rating, which my mom was wary of when it first came out.
It doesn’t have the magic of E.T., and I don’t appreciate the oft-repeated falsity that “guns kill” (people do), but it’s an enjoyable romp, intentionally reminiscent of 1950s alien films, with endearing characters and a great lesson of choosing one’s own purpose.
Best line: (Mansley, as Hogarth is grunting in the bathroom trying to hide the giant’s separated hand) “You know, this sort of thing is why it’s important to always chew your food.”Artistry: 5 Characters/Actors: 7 Entertainment: 6 Visual Effects: 6 Originality: 5 Watchability: 6 Other (mild language and anti-gun message): -4 TOTAL: 31 out of 60
Next: #294: Apollo 13
© 2014 S. G. Liput