Anthony's Film Review

The Iron Giant (1999)

Although fast-paced and predictable, this animated feature has plenty of touching moments...

The Iron Giant is a late 1990s animated film with the feel of a 1950s science-fiction movie. A movie like this, about a giant robot from outer space that comes to Earth, could have been a 1990s animated film set in the 1990s. The filmmakers, including director Brad Bird, did not take this approach. It makes perfect sense. The 1950s was a decade of progress in America after World War II but a time of fear as it entered the Cold War. If you want a clever movie about a giant robot, you have to create conflict between this character and the setting. The 1950s would be perfect for that.

In The Iron Giant, the title character descends to Earth, landing off the coast of Maine. While wandering on the land, a boy named Hogarth Hughes stumbles onto this robot. Their initial encounter involves Hogarth saving the robot from death. Once Hogarth looks for the robot again, it naturally develops an affection for the boy. From there, Hogarth has to constantly find ways to hide this 50-foot robot from everyone.

A simple story like this only needs a simple cast of supporting characters. There are really only three: Hogarth's mother Annie (Jennifer Aniston), a scrap metal dealer named Dean (Harry Connick Jr.), and a government official named Mansley (Christopher McDonald). Their parts in the movie are what you'd expect. Annie is the mother who is confused as she notices her son do some strange things. Dean begins to learn what is going on with Hogarth and even understands the situation. As for Mansley, he's determined to send the military after the robot.

While all of this is happening, Hogarth and the robot have a sweet, touching friendship. The robot, voiced by Vin Diesel, is like a child. It can make plenty of childlike expressions and learns a few new words. Later, Hogarth even teaches the robot an important life lesson or two. The script incorporates plenty of clever details to suit this story, like Hogarth showing the robot a Superman comic to explain good versus evil.

That's all there really is with this movie. It's not too complicated and yet very heartwarming. So let this be a lesson in creating any story. The most important element of a story is character. We want to appreciate who the characters are and see how they feel in response to certain situations, provided by that secondary element called plot. If you can do that, then your story can capture the heart and imagination of the audience. The Iron Giant does just that.

Anthony's Rating:

For more information about The Iron Giant, visit the Internet Movie Database.


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