johnlink ranks THE IRON GIANT (1999)

My son, who will be 4 in a couple of weeks, has been watching THE IRON GIANT for the last week or so. He asked me to watch it with him tonight “all the way through”, so we did. This is a movie I’ve been meaning to see for years, so I’m glad Quinn finally got me to do it.


I watched THE IRON GIANT (1999) on 8.14.14. It was my first viewing of the film.

The story for this Brad Bird animated film is mostly straightforward, though odd for an animated film in that it is set in 1957 Maine. A young kid, Hogarth (voiced by Eli Marienthal) is a boy with a tendency to bring home odd pets, much to the chagrin of his mother Annie (Jennifer Aniston). One day he stumbles upon an Iron Giant from parts unknown (Vin Diesel). Hogarth takes care of the robot, even as he is being hounded by an FBI agent/bad-guy-without-nuance (Christopher McDonald). Helping the kid to shield the titular iron man from said baddie is artist Dean (Harry Connick Jr.).

If you want to call this lefty propaganda, you wouldn’t get an argument from me, and I’m a lefty. The robot clearly represents a threat perceived as Communist who is clearly not. The artist and the poor mom are the heroes and the military complex serves as the bad guy (even if they prove better than that at the end). Hogarth says things like “It’s bad to kill. Guns kill. And you don’t have to be a gun. You are what you choose to be. You choose. Choose.” The concept of ‘gun’ as replacement for ‘violent’ or ‘bad’ is common. It’s not a bad message, mind you (it is one I approve of for sure), it’s just delivered without any sort of subtlety whatsoever.

This is a beloved film directed by a guy who would later be a big part of Pixar, Brad Bird. He does a nice job, but this isn’t exactly a great animated classic. The themes are obvious, the characters are mostly one dimensional (except for the three leads, Hogarth, the Giant, and Dean), and the story doesn’t do anything too unique.

The way it is told may be unusual by animated standards. Words like ‘damn’ and ‘hell’ populate this kids movie. References to contemporaneous subjects such as Sputnik or Superman or duck-and-cover nuke videos are prevalent. The attention to detail is nice, and the animation style is endearing.

This is an entertaining film to be sure. Perhaps, though, it was one I had thought might be much better based on the hype attached to it. It is good for sure. It is a nice story with a nice message and nice bits. It has some really funny moments, the best being a jump in the lake by the giant. Yet, perhaps because Pixar has since spoiled us, I’m not entirely sold by this thing. I never feel like a movie which would be better if it were remade, but we have the CGI to remake this thing as a live action film and make something better. I hate to say that because I loathe knee-jerk remakes, but this may not be the best version of the story it sets out to tell.

It’s certainly good enough to see, certainly good enough to visit. I just may have wanted a little bit more. But I tell you what. My son sure loves it. And he wants to be the Iron Giant whenever he stomps around the house. So I don’t want to knock it too hard.


When considering an animated film, the ACTING score factors in both voice over work and the animation to make a judgment on total character creation.



FINAL SCORE: 5.75 out of 10

~ by johnlink00 on August 14, 2014.

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