The Iron Giant
The Iron Giant is a 1999 American animated science fiction film using both traditional animation and computer animation, produced by Warner Bros. Feature Animation and directed by Brad Bird in his directorial debut. It is based on the 1968 novel The Iron Man by Ted Hughes (which was published in the United States as The Iron Giant) and was scripted by Tim McCanlies from a story treatment by Bird.
This is the story of a nine-year-old boy named Hogarth Hughes who makes friends with an innocent giant alien robot that came from outer space. Meanwhile, a paranoid U.S. Government agent named Kent Mansley arrives in town, determined to destroy the giant at all costs. It's up to Hogarth to protect him by keeping him at Dean McCoppin's place in the junkyard.
Why it Rocks
- This film launched the career of Brad Bird, the director of this film, would later make even more great animated films like Ratatouille, The Incredibles, and Incredibles 2, helping shape up Brad Bird's love for animation, a love started by working on The Simpsons, and defining animation as more than simple kid's content.
- Beautiful animation that mixes traditional animation with computer animation.
- One of the film's strongest scenes is where the Giant is forced to stop the missile or everyone in town is mercilessly killed, reciting what Hogarth told him during their first meeting before sacrificing himself to stop said missile.
- The Iron Giant, accompanied by the mechanical voice of Vin Diesel, is a lovable and deep character, perfectly summed up by a line from Brad Bird used to pitch the film: "What if a gun had a soul and didn't want to be a gun?".
- It balances two plots well together: Hogarth finding and being friendly with The Iron Giant, and the government trying to get rid of it.
- Great voice acting, especially from Eli Marienthal, Vin Diesel, Harry Connick Jr., Jennifer Aniston, and James Gammon, who were mostly new to voice acting.
- A very triumphant soundtrack.
- Lots of depth and humanity, especially for a Warner Bros. animated film meant for kids.
- A lot of memorable lines that spurred from the film's immensely clever and cheesy writing, which anyone can recite today, "Where's the giant, Mansley?"
- The U.S. Army as seen in the film is accurately depicted in its mid-late 1950s form, including the choice of vehicles, weapons, and the appearance of a soldier; the latter impressively down to the cut and style of uniform.
- For a movie with a lot of ideas, it's countered by a short run time of 86 minutes (which was somewhat fixed by the extended edition that featured 2 scenes story-boarded during original production but not animated until sixteen years later in 2015, the same year it received a theatrical re-release).
- As mentioned above, some of the dialogue is very cheesy.
- General Rogard's actor, John Mahoney, passed away in 2018, 19 years after the film was released.
- Sadly, Ted Hughes (author of the original novel the film was based on) passed away a year before the movie was released. He did, however, live long enough to read the script. Despite its departure from the source material, Hughes was impressed. He expressed his approval in a letter to the studio: "I want to tell you how much I like what Brad Bird has done … He’s made a terrific dramatic situation out of the way he’s developed The Iron Giant. I can’t stop thinking about it."
- Hughes wrote the novel as a way of comforting his children after the suicide of their mother, poet Sylvia Plath.
- Hogarth, who didn't have a last name in the novel, was given the surname "Hughes" after his author.
- Animators Ollie Johnston and Frank Thomas, two of Disney's legendary "Nine Old Men", made cameos as train engineers. Brad Bird has cited both animators as an influence on his career.
The Iron Giant was critically acclaimed, with an average critic score of 85 on Metacritic and 96% on Rotten Tomatoes. Despite the acclaim, the film bombed at the box office, earning $31 million worldwide against a $48 million budget.
The Iron Giant found new life on home video, with WB spending $35 million on marketing. It also built a strong cult following after repeated showings on Cartoon Network throughout the 2000s.