11 December 2004 | Anansi00
What more animated movie should be: a thoughtful, funny, touching story.
After seeing this movie, I was overcome by a strange feeling. I realized that I had found a treasure where I had least expected it. The Iron Giant is intelligent, funny, touching, and visually superb, and should show the world that an animated movie does not need to be A) computer-animated, or B) based on a fairy tale to be successful. One of the best American-made children's movies I have seen in a decade: 8.5/10.0
Now, I'm a 17-year-old who is slowly transitioning into the domain of movie buffdom, which basically means that I am watching a stream of movies based on recommendations from friends, critics, and the IMDb Top 250 list. I got this one almost by accident after the local rental place could not find the movie I was really after, choosing it basically on the knowledge that it was the previous project of Brad Bird, director of The Incredibles (a personal favorite). After watching it, I felt like calling up every mother I knew and telling her to have her children (and herself) watch this.
The Iron Giant revolves around an adventurous young boy in 1950s small-town America who discovers a gigantic robot out in the woods that has arrived on Earth from goodness-knows-where. He befriends the robot, while trying to keep him safe from a nosy government agent. The story seldom lags, with a series of comical adventures connected by the boy's growing relationship with his friend.
This movie is very appealing as entertainment. The voices are well-done, and the scenery is also terrific. Most importantly, though, is the animation, which is a bright spot from this time period. The characters are well-drawn, especially the Giant, who through terrific design, lifelike movements, and clever small touches (i.e., the eyes) seems both alien and human, imposing and childlike. Furthermore, the animation is comical. I don't know when I have ever seen slapstick or punchlines so well-complimented by the animation. The script, written by Bird and based off the book The Iron Man, is also very well done. Though the movie relies upon a few minor crutches common to children's movies, it is still very original and clever.
One thing that I must point out about this movie is its morals. Throughout the movie, the main moral of the story, about the Iron Giant learning and choosing to be good, is actually fairly adroitly handled. At no point when the subject comes up, including standard sentimental climax, does the idea seem contrived. Throughout the movie, evidence of Bird's influence by comic books is quite evident, and his ultimate message about heroes (variations of which will resurface in The Incredibles) is relevant and sincere. However, I do have to say that the secondary moral, about the evils of xenophobia and paranoia, both of which are embodied by the movie's antagonist, the government agent and the military, are very politically charged. While this may sound initially controversial and politically charged for a kids' movie (the second of which I do not deny), I noticed that it was in large part a thoughtful spoof of Cold War America, with jokes as well as valuable lessons about "duck and cover" and 1950s nuclear edginess that I found very clever.
On a final note, I do have to point out that this movie had me laughing hard, but more importantly, it brought me closer to tears than any animated movie I can remember (including Bambi), closer than I like to admit. I wish that I had discovered it sooner, and I hope that everyone gets the chance to experience it the way I did.