This is no regular film. This is a film to take with you wherever you go, for as long as you go. I love this film, and I'm not alone. I have still yet to receive a negative review for the film. (This just changed and the review can be seen below by an 'Official Online Film Critics Society member' of which I refuse to be a member of) The strongest complaint I've seen is a wish that it were a bit longer, but what classic movie is long enough? My experience with the greatest films I have seen is often followed by a profound desire to hear 'the rest of the story' to 'learn even more about these characters', but that's not THIS STORY. We're here for the relationship of Hogarth and The Iron Giant. And the film is as long as it takes to tell THAT story. The way I'm going to spend more time with this film is through REPEAT VIEWINGS. I've seen it 3 times now... that's nowhere near enough. Read and go see this movie. Here's Darque Guy...
Longtime reader here who has never contacted you about any info...until now.
Not even info so much as a review on the movie I had the pleasure to see tonight...the Iron Giant.
This is, simply put, the best movie of the summer. Eyes Wide Shut was a haunting look at the human sexual condition by a master of the art, South Park was a raucous and much-needed stab at the parent groups and ratings boards that are trying to make our decisions for us...but as brilliant as both of those films were, they can't touch The Iron Giant. This is a film that perfect captures everything that was good (B-movies, Silver Age comic books, the space program) and bad (the overwhelming fear of anything that is un-American) of the 1950s and wraps them into a beautiful, creative package. This is a film that was clearly made by people who are interested in character and story as opposed to Tarzan, which, while better than the recent Disney fare, was nonetheless put through the Disney formula by people who are interested in seeing their film at # 1 at the box office. The characters are richly realistic (especially Hogarth, the young boy in a position we all wished we could be in at that age and the villain of the piece, who is scarier than anything Disney has come up with in the last few decades...because he is real. He represents people like you and me at our worse), the dialogue is crisp and fresh and the plot is that rare gem in children's films where adult and child viewers alike will be entertained without being insulted or overlooked, respectively. The movie delivers a message to it's viewers, especially poignant given the recent events and subsequent mood of this country, without subjecting us to a preachy message with the subtlety of an Afterschool Special. It is hysterical, it is touching, it is everything that a good movie should strive to be.
This is light-years away from anything Disney has created since Little Mermaid and Beauty and the Beast became the norm that all Disney films live by...and I truly doubt that any of the powers-that-be at the House of Mouse will develop the balls to put a film like this forward anytime soon. Everyone involved with this project should be very, very proud.
Here's the longtime netizen, Frankenseus with his look at the film...
Despite the decade's reputation for depravity and lowest common denominator crappiness, the 90's have actually produced a whole slew of intelligent and superbly crafted family films. From wickedly imaginative fantasies like The Nightmare Before Christmas and James and the Giant Peach to more down to earth dramas like Harriet the Spy and Fly Away Home, a wide range of high quality films have brightened up what might otherwise be known as the John Hughes kicked-in-the-balls period. Now there's a new movie to add to the modern family classics category, a movie that will also take its place among the best all around films of the '90s and the greatest animated features ever made. And to my delight, this movie happens to be about a giant robot.
Iron Giant delivers as a giant robot film, depicting all manner of robotic adventure for its wonderful, retro-styled title automaton. You get to see the robot flying, fighting, carrying people, shooting beams out of its eyes - everything you'd expect. But for this film, that stuff is only the surface - even if it doesn't need to be. Most likely, Iron Giant is not what you expect. It could easily join Toy Story and Babe in a trilogy of warm, compassionate fairy tales with universal appeal. Like its predecessors, Iron Giant is a nearly flawless masterpiece of cinematic storytelling. The basic premise - boy befriends giant robot from space - is an old one, but it comes out feeling like something entirely unique. It is fortified with healthy doses of humor and invention that will appeal to adults even more than to children. At the sneak preview screening I attended, the audience was mostly made up of adults who seemed to think they were just treating their small children to the latest kiddy flick. They ended up laughing loud and hard from beginning to end.
Most importantly, Iron Giant continues the Toy Story/Babe tradition by instilling a strong sense of humanity and emotion into a character we wouldn't have imagined could be so moving. I never in a million years would have expected to care about a talking pig the way I do Babe, so that was one of that film's most surprising qualities. It also seems a bit odd to get tingles from a clunky action figure of a spaceman super hero, but that's just what happens when I watch Buzz Lightyear realize he's only a toy and try to fly anyway.
I did expect to like the giant robot of Iron Giant, because I'm the sort of guy who likes that sort of thing. But I couldn't have hoped for such a moving, Frankenstein's-monster-like personality inside this cool-looking mass of metal. All of the characters, even the humorously xenophobic villain, have enough dimension and humanity to them to make the story inescapably compelling. At one point in the movie it occurred to me that the giant might live out a certain tragic tradition of giant robot stories, and suddenly I found myself crying. Now that I didn't expect.
Unlike recent non-Disney hits like Anastasia and Prince of Egypt, it's actually difficult to think of Iron Giant (which was produced by Warner Brothers) in terms of Disney animation. Despite being an all ages animated fable, Iron Giant is a completely different animal. I like Tarzan, and the way it sticks its toes just a little bit outside the borders of the Disney formula. I think it is more dramatic and emotional than most Disney films, and I appreciate the lack of musical sequences. When compared to Iron Giant, though, Tarzan seems laughable and by-the-numbers. Iron Giant doesn't skewer animation tradition, but it doesn't follow formula at the expense of story. You don't get the feeling that this is a commercial endeavor, where merchandising and marketability are first or even second priorities. They're not even a factor at all. This is just good old fashioned storytelling that seems to be effortlessly universal in its appeal.
Iron Giant isn't a musical either, but unlike Tarzan it doesn't bow to the Toy Story inspired Middle-Aged-Rock-Crooner-Replaces-Show-Tunes formula. The story takes place in the '50s, and most of the music (besides Michael Kamen's mythic score) is period source music that usually wafts out of some distant radio, like in the kitchen of the cafÃ© where young Hogarth's mom works. We're talking sound design more along the lines of Jaws than Beauty and the Beast. It helps to give the film a realistic, live action feel. The atmosphere is somewhat akin to that of Kiki's Delivery Service - a magical animated fantasy that manages to depict reality a little more convincingly than many live action films.
(It is significant to note that producer Pete Townshend recorded a rock opera concept album based on the same Ted Hughes book the film is based on. Keeping this in mind, it's hard to believe the filmmakers were actually able to fulfill their vision. Call me pessimistic, but I think Disney would have forced songs on them.)
Tarzan, despite its fairly serious tone (I am still very fond of the scene where Tarzan kills a leopard and hoists its corpse above his head) is saddled by a couple of cartoony comic relief sidekicks who occasionally let their zany antics and references interfere with the story. They're tame by Disney standards, so they don't seem that bad in Tarzan.
But Iron Giant has no comic relief characters or wacky sidekicks. At the same time, I can't think of a Disney movie that made me laugh half as hard as Iron Giant. Instead of having characters in the story whose job it is to be funny, the main characters themselves are funny and face funny situations. Director Brad Bird helmed early episodes of The Simpsons and helped establish many of the show's longstanding storytelling techniques, so perhaps it shouldn't be surprising that the many funny scenes in Iron Giant are masterfully executed.
It is surprising, though, or at least refreshing, how genuinely warm and human the movie is. I think a lot of people will see that it's a non-Disney animated feature and expect the kind of saccharine pseudo-sweetness they get from movies like Balto or the sinister works of Don Bluth. You know, the movies where shots of cute animals or sad orphan girls batting their eyelashes are what passes for emotion. Hogarth is the real thing - a believable and likable child protagonist. You can relate to him because he's smart and self-reliant and likes to watch monster movies.
In his Family Dog episode of Amazing Stories, Bird displayed a knack for depicting realistic children and getting great performances out of child voice actors. This tradition is continued with Hogarth, who is superbly portrayed by Eli Marienthal. In most ways, Hogarth behaves just like a normal kid, reading comic books and playing in the lake. To me he seemed just like the kids who were in the theater, telling each other that the giant wouldn't harm anyone because "he's a good guy." But while Hogarth seems like a normal kid, it also seems perfectly natural when he forms unusual friendships and performs acts of genuine heroism. I think a lot of filmmakers, and not only those who work in animation, could learn from the characterization in this movie.
Hogarth's relationship with the robot begins with a situation thematically similar to the unforgettable pitbull rescue in Babe: Pig in the City. Hogarth encounters the huge metal creature stomping through the woods and he thinks - maybe even correctly - that it's trying to kill him. Hogarth gets his chance to escape when the metal monster trips into a web of power lines. Seeing it writhe in pain, Hogarth perhaps sees that there is something human about the giant, and he risks himself to save it from electrocution.
This act of kindness is the beginning of a relationship in which the boy helps the machine realize that he can be more than a weapon. The giant turns out to be almost more of a boy than Hogarth, so much so that he idolizes Superman. Even if Iron Giant were a shoddy piece of filmmaking, I'd probably be suckered just by that wonderful notion: the powerful giant robot from outer space who likes to play Superman. Lucky for me (and everyone who's not a sucker) that's just one of many beautiful touches on this animated masterpiece, which is easily my favorite film of the year so far. It's an instant classic which will surely be remembered alongside the likes of the aforementioned Kiki's Delivery Service, Toy Story and Babe - movies that make you smile just thinking about them.
Here's Acaana's look at THE IRON GIANT
Greetings from the Great White North! God smiled on me yesterday and I managed to get to a sneak preview of Iron Giant. Just thought I'd add my quick thoughts, as a budding animator.
The best word I could come up with to exclaim my wonder at this masterpiece is GLORIOUS (hope I spelled that right.. don't wanna look like an idiot...). I was absolutely blown away, no matter what hype I had read I was not prepared for such a beautiful film. It looks like the WB is now back on track with their animation dept., after the past few years worth of crap. Hope springs eternal that this is a sign of things to come. The characters, the story, the crisp animation... it was perfect! If it were not for my Christian-bias, I'd say it was even better than Prince of Egypt, but I won't...
Anyhow, I just noticed that you put up some reviews of this sneak preview weekend already, so I doubt mine will be added, but I just like the thought of Head Geek reading my opinion.
On a completely different note, I just found out that a co-worker of mine is from New Zealand and Peter Jackson grew up next door to him, dated his daughter, etc. and is in touch with him often, so I am hoping to someday drop you a bomb with SOME sort of LotR news. Or maybe I can squeak in there as a hobbit extra or something...
Anyhow, I've taken up enough of your time. If you DO print this (is that the term on the net?) then just sign me:
Acaana the Beorning
Here's a look from Roper
After I watched a preview screening of Iron Giant, I felt weird. This movie, like none other, somehow got INTO me and stirred my soul. Dont get me wrong-there is really NOTHING groundbreaking in the lines of Deep Canvas or Toy Story CG stuff here. What makes IG so AWESOME is its total dedication to the two most important (but somehow lacking these days ) elements in moviemaking :
STORY and CHARACTERS. Iron Giant had both.
As I was watching it, memories of the way Pinocchio and Dumbo made me feel rushed back in a torrent. Unlike Tarzan with its whiz-bang deep-canvas technology, GIANT never once calls attention to its technology. It keeps the story and characters at the forefront.
As the movie ended, I was reminded that this is why I LOVE animation in the first place.
This is why I LOVE IRON GIANT.
From one great robot, Optimus Prime, about another THE IRON GIANT, comes an Autobot review
Right off the bat I'll call the Iron Giant a animated classic. Much more so than all the so-so films that Disney labels every animated film they do. And if it is a hit, which it well deserves to be, expect that damn Disney formula finally to be broken in American animation.
This is an film with a story, a heart, and yes even a message. It is one of those rare films that captures your complete attention for the whole time. It doesn't rely on cheap gags, such as the comedy side-kick of Disney. There are no annoying moments of characters breaking out in song, to fill us in on how we should be feeling at that moment.
Somebody called this an E.T. for the 90's, and that is the best definition I can give it. Although I think it actually works better than E.T. That is because it is animated. Animation makes the fantastic seem more possible, your not thinking about the computer graphics, or the puppetry that makes the creature move, you just think about the Giant as another character.
I guess I should give some story details. The story has been told numerous times, The Iron Giant, is a visitor from outer space. He befriends a wonderful boy, the kind of boy that doesn't quite fit in, with the huge imagination and lust for life. The kind of boy that grows up to be a Steven Spielberg. The government is of course threatened by the Giant, and they want to destroy it. But it is mostly a story of two great friends.
Here are some quotables for the Warner Brothers marketing team. This film will make you laugh, make you cry, and most importantly it will make you think. This really is a film that kids and adults will love.
Please try to ignore the horrible advertising that has been put together for this film. And if successful, please don't cheapen this film with that horrible trend of straight to video sequels. Optimus Prime telling everyone young and old to see this movie.
AHA! Finally a fairly negative review of THE IRON GIANT! I knew there'd be someone out there with coal for a heart, here ya go....
Hey, Harry...Online Film Critics Society member Dustin Putman here with my review of "The Iron Giant," which I saw at the sneak preview Sunday afternoon. Since it is actually a mixed review, much different than the unanonymously positive ones we've been getting on your site, I thought you would be interested in what I have to say, and hopefully let your readers see a somewhat different opinion on the movie...here's a link to my website, by the way: Dustin Putman's Film Haven.
The praise Warner Brothers' new animated film, "The Iron Giant," has been getting is phenomenally positive, with a few critics who have gone as far as to call it a classic, the best animated film in a long time, and WB's first successful venture into the world of animation (after dismal results with "The Quest for Camelot" and "The King and I"). Thus, going into the movie theater was a hopeful, relatively assured experience; I was ready to like, and embrace, the film, just as long as it was as special as everyone has been saying. It isn't, and actually surprised me in how lacking the whole film was in almost every respect, despite its more mature themes than the usual animated flick. For me, at least, WB's losing streak continues, even if it is worlds above the dreadful "The King and I."
Based on the 1968 novel by Ted Hughes, "The Iron Giant" begins as a giant robot from outer space crashes into the ocean during a hurricane, but is able to reach land unscathed. Rumors begin to circulate around the tiny New England town of Rockwell, Maine, circa 1959, about a huge creature that a sailor allegedly glimpsed while out on the waters. Hiding within the tall forest directly above the town, the robot, named the Iron Giant, is equipped with weapons all over his body, basically programmed as a destroying machine, but due to a dent in his head caused from falling to Earth, he doesn't remember this. When 10-year-old Hogarth Hughes (voiced by Eli Marienthal) is home alone one night watching a scary movie (his mother, voiced by Jennifer Aniston, sometimes has to work late at the local diner), the television abruptly goes to static and, investigating, Hogarth discovers that their antenna has been eaten, and a large path has been made into the woods behind his house. Following it, he meets the Iron Giant, whom he is frightened of at first until he realizes he is a kind robot that just needs a little discipline. This unlikely pair soon become close buddies, but Hogarth fears their friendship will be threatened if anyone else finds out about him, especially when oily government agent Kent Mansley (voiced by Christopher McDonald) sets out to find the unidentified being from another planet.
While it can be appreciated that "The Iron Giant," directed by Brad Bird, features several adult themes that you do not usually find in animated films (including serious talks about death, faith in God, and the nuclear holocaust), and we are thankfully spared singing characters and cute (read: annoying) animal sidekicks, the film is disappointing and flawed for many reasons. For one, the movie feels overlong while you are watching it, even at a scant 85 minutes, but in retrospect, virtually nothing occurs outside of the major storyline between the robot and the young boy. Unfortunately, on this level alone, even amidst its tranquil nature and innocence, the film is almost shameful in its extreme similarities with the 1982 classic, "E.T." Replace a small alien with a giant robot, tranport the time period back some 22 years, and turn the three-dimensional, well-developed human actors into one-dimensional, thinly-written animated characters, (mix well) and you've practically got the same movie.
The character of Hogarth's mother is an example of a wasted, thoroughly undealt-with creation. Working as a waitress and obviously struggling to raise her son on her own, a possible subplot is briefly brought up in which you expect to learn more about her and her personal problems, but apparently director Bird felt that anything revolving outside of the cliched robot storyline would make children squirm. I beg to differ, however, since Bird is ambitious enough to discuss several heavy topics, and send out worthy anti-gun and anti-violence messages, and the children in the audience didn't make a peep. Aside from the robot himself, the film is refreshingly realistic, and because of this, children will be more likely to relate to the characters and situations, while adults will appreciate the distinct period flavor, including how, during the Cold War, school children were instructed to climb underneath their desks in case a nuclear bomb was to hit. If the film had gone a little bit further in portraying this particular era, including using, perhaps, an array of popular '50s tunes to underscore the goings-on, it might have been more enjoyable on this level.
"The Iron Giant" is not a complete washout (it's a little too aspiring for that), but remains a missed opportunity. The film strains to follows the cookie-cutter basics of the plot, in which "boy-meets-robot, boy-befriends-robot, boy-must-bid-farewell-to-robot-when-his-safety-is-threatened," and not once strays from this well-worn path. The entrance of agent Kent Mansley is irritating and a throwaway stock villain character, while the other supporting animated figures play as more of an afterthought. Finally, young, precocious Hogarth must briefly say goodbye to his beloved friend in the supposed-to-be-heart-tugging climax, but all I could really think about at that moment was, "I've seen this all before, and to much more powerful effect." Animated feature or not, "The Iron Giant" attempts to stray from the beaten path of Disney, but really, who is Warner Brothers kidding? I'll take Disney's superior animated entertainment, "Tarzan," over this any day of the week.
And here's THE PRANKSTER's look at the film...
Hey there, The Prankster here, also known as "Blah Blah". Just your average corporate shill, oops, I mean impartial reviewer. :)
Yes, I've seen Iron Giant now. Sooooo...is the hype justified?
Well, yes and no. It's like...imagine if The Shawshank Redemption or Forrest Gump had been hyped the way Episode 1 was. That's sort of what this movie was like. The hype might lead you to expect a "thrill ride" or, in the case of this movie, something on the level of Toy Story. It's not that kind of movie, but it's an entirely different kind of "good". It's quiet and low-key...at the beginning, anyway. The final sequence is just as cool as the mutants in Toy Story or the big amusement park battle at the end of Batman: Mask of the Phantasm.
Most aniamted movies focus on the cool visual sequences and the characters...this one starts from the story and the relationships. As a result it's not as visually incredible as many animations, but it is more touching.
And yes, it is adult. Adults will enjoy it. It's still a "kid's movie", the same way Star Wars or E.T. are. But it's more mature than just about anything we've seen animated before, even Toy Story or POE. One quibble--after the amazing "acting" in POE, the flourishes in Iron Giant seem a bit melodramatic. The voice acting was superb, though.
Oh yeah. And this movie has a message. People will probably start complaining that it was heavy-handed once they've seen it. Well yeah, if you're a cynical bastard who can't stand an instant of honest emotion. There are things I guess you can laugh at in this movie. It gets tear-jerking at times, and you might try to brush it off with laughter. All I can say is...it worked for me.
You know, I can't help but feel WB got it right by not giving this thing a huge marketing push. Yeah, I know, call me a blasphemer. But this movie is in the ranks of There's Something About Mary, The Shawshank Redemption, and Forrest Gump. It's not something you can or should advertize in advance...instead you should "discover" it. I have a feeling the critics will like it (except those so blinded by "The King and I" and "Quest for Camelot"...and really, who could blame 'em?).