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The Iron Giant

Animation and Science Fiction & Fantasy movie directed by Brad Bird

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Detestably unappreciated; a classic all the way.

  • Dec 22, 2000
  • by
The Iron Giant choked in the box office, buried under a deluge of flashy films, all of which suffered from a serious dearth of heart and soul. It didn't help that the advertising campaign was painfully bad, embedding a pretense of "crappy kids' movie." And, of course, the animated motion picture genre is decidedly handcuffed by Disney, and any non-Disney flick is sure to elicit cynicism from the kids (the prime demographic for a movie like this).

But forget all that...The Iron Giant is a fine movie. Actually, I would go as far as to say it's the best animated movie I've ever seen.

Forget everything you've ever thought about animated films. Just for kids...bad script...juvenile humor...long, boring music numbers...talking animal sidekicks with lame one-liners... Forget it all. Instead of staying shackled to convention, The Iron Giant eschews all the faults associated with other animated films, and simply delivers a charming film that anyone can enjoy. Pardon the cliché, but in this case, it is absolutely true.

The Iron Giant's story is delightfully captivating in all its exquisitely crafted facets. The script is irresistible, tastefully witty, and profoundly moving. Time and time again, I marveled at how a single scene could be better than entire movies. The giant robot character is a stranger in a strange land, and his (mis)adventures with Hogarth (the young boy who befriends the robot) are accompanied with elegant humor, but sometimes the lighthearted moments relinquish themselves to emotionally-stirring segments. If the ending doesn't have you holding back tears, you simply aren't human. The iron giant himself succeeds in being the ideal non-human character with a very important human element, and that's one of the greatest merits of this movie's story.

From a technical standpoint, the animation is simply breathtaking. Special accolade goes to the technique used on the iron giant himself. He is rendered with computers graphics, but with a special cel-shading technique that makes him look hand-drawn. This allows him to seamlessly blend in with the hand-drawn environments and other characters.

Some people will certainly pass by The Iron Giant. They'll return to their Disney flicks -- movies that are so engineered to be impressive that they somehow fail. These people will never know what they missed. That is because The Iron Giant is so much more than any other animated movie. It's a ride through a timeless story and human emotion that few movies match, much less animated films. Lofty praise, certainly, but every word of it is sincere and true. Watch it, and you'll agree.

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More The Iron Giant reviews
review by . June 20, 2010
No, I am not referring to myself here (although there may be a slight ring of truth therein).  Moreover, this review reflects the wonder of the late English poet laureate and American poet Sylvia Plath widower Ted Hughes's 1968 masterpiece of a children's chapter book entitled, The Iron Giant: A Story In Five Nights.  (Because that book was not listed here on Lunch, I had to use the corresponding movie link to access the appropriate category for this work)        …
Quick Tip by . July 03, 2010
super cute movie
Quick Tip by . June 24, 2010
Great movie! It's been a while since the last time I watched it, but it has a nice plot and great characters who are easy to form attachments to.
Quick Tip by . June 21, 2010
I didn't care for this. Not terribly interesting.
review by . August 31, 2005
posted in Movie Hype
The Iron Giant is a loose adaptation of a wonderful book of the same title, by Ted Hughes (written in the late sixties). In the book the origins of the giant are unknown, and he is initially buried beneath the earth before being attacked and ultimately befriended. The enemy in the book, who becomes a common enemy to both the humans and the giant and the cause of their alliance, was a giant dragon-like creature (as big as Australia!!) who the giant ends up outsmarting.     In …
review by . November 30, 2004
I am always hesitant to give a five-star rating to a film. I always try to compare movies to ones that are in the same genre first, and then to films that have stood the test of time before determining if they are worthy of five stars. "The Iron Giant" towers over the competition in its genre, and I believe that it will be around much longer than many of its modern counterparts. It is full of heart, wonder, and amazement. It has emotional twists that keep you intrigued. It is definitely worthy of …
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Clayton Reeder ()
Ranked #438
Rogue capitalist in search of all that is interesting, weird, or beautiful.      Collected here are my hundreds of reviews from Amazon.com, covering mostly music that is offensive … more
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About this movie


This gentle reworking of Ted Hughes's 1968 novella was the unseen gem of 1999. Hogarth, a young boy who lives in the Maine woods during the cold war, befriends a giant robot. As with E.T., the iron giant is a misunderstood outsider who becomes a child's best friend, and Hogarth does his best to hide the massive figure from his mom (voiced by Jennifer Aniston) and the local scrap-yard beatnik (Harry Connick Jr.). Soon the suspicions of neighbors and a government agent (Christopher McDonald) spell trouble.

With no songs, no sidekicks, and no cheap ending, The Iron Giant is a refreshing change-- like an off-Broadway production compared to the glitz of Disney's annual animated extravaganzas. Director Brad Bird may have Family Dog and The Simpsons to his credit, but this film doesn't have that brand of scatological humor. As with the best family entertainments, there are gags that adults will howl at while the kids are watching something else (see Bird's interpretation of cold war propaganda). And the star is one cool piece of animated magic. Voiced by Vin Diesel (Saving Private Ryan's hulking Private Caparzo) and filled with more gadgets than a Swiss army knife, the giant is a grand thing to behold. And like another famous cinema tin man, our hero--and the movie--has heart. Superb entertainment for ages 5 and up. --Doug Thomas

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Director: Brad Bird
Genre: Animation, Fantasy, Sci-Fi
DVD Release Date: November 16, 2004
Runtime: 86 minutes
Studio: Warner Home Video
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