REVIEW SUMMARY: Excellent story told through superb animation.
BRIEF SYNOPSIS: A boy befriends a giant robot in the bomb paranoid 1950’s.
PROS: Excellent story and animation
CONS: Some strong language for the younger kiddies.
BOTTOM LINE: An immensely enjoyable film.
I watched The Iron Giant on DVD today with my daughter. I had bought it about a year or two ago even though she was still too young. We were looking for something new to watch, so I grabbed this off the shelf. And I’m glad I did. This is an excellent movie.
The story concerns a giant robot that arrives on Earth during the 50’s, a period in our history where bomb paranoia was prevalent to the point of showing “duck and cover” films to grade-schoolers. (As an aside here, I remember doing practice emergency drills when I was in sixth-grade in the late seventies!) The robot is discovered by a innocent and independent boy named Hogarth Hughes, whose single mom works a lot. Hogarth teaches the docile robot how to talk and, all told, likes this amazing, metal-eating plaything. When a government agent tracks the giant to the Hughes Home, Hogarth entrusts local metal artist Dean McCoppin to help hide him. Hogarth and Dean soon learn that the robot is not as docile as first thought.
The first thing that struck me was the quality of the animation. It’s a mixture of 2D and CG that really gives it a (then) unique feel. Voice characterizations boasted the talents of Jennifer Aniston as the mom, Harry Connick, Jr. as Dean and Vin Diesel as the robot. The writing was well done, too. The film had several moments of quality tension and even a fairly good handful of laughs as well. The paranoid fifties was the perfect setting for this story when the robot’s true powers became known. My five year old enjoyed the heck out of it, although in retrospect, this was a great candidate for a parental previewing since there are a few too many hells and damns and such.
There only noteworthy extra on this DVD was a half-hour making-of documentary made for the WB network and hosted by Diesel. The behind the scenes info was great but Diesel’s halted delivery of his lines made it sound like he was talking to a six year old.
Still, the movie itself is top-notch!