The Iron Giant (1999) Review

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RATING: 4.5/5

[SPOILERS]

A young boy gets the experience of a lifetime when a giant metal man appears in his hometown. From there, the two build a special and unique bond.

It was on August 6, 1999, that this animation classic hit theaters. As a kid, I used to watch this A LOT because it was so good. Now as an adult, this film still is as great as it was 20 years ago.

Many of the characters were all great and memorable in their own way. Each one of them had a distinct personality that made them stand out against one another. Hogarth was an outgoing and energetic kid. His mother, Annie, was the caring mother. Dean was the laidback, chill, junkyard artist/mechanic. Kent Mansley was the government agent desperately looking for the giant. There is, of course, the Iron Giant himself, who was so much fun to watch on screen. Especially since he was voiced by Vin Diesel.

The dialogue and performances were really good. The characters, for the most part, were believable in their words and their actions. They were relatable. The interplay between them was very enjoyable. Because of that, one would emotionally feel what was happening. One didn’t want the relationship between Hogarth and the Giant to end tragically.

The animation was really good. The attention to detail in certain scenes was very nice. I love the distinction/contrast between the 2D and the 3D animation. I think this was essential in making the Giant stand out in the normal American town of Rockwell, Maine. There were some shots that were drawn beautifully, giving off some impressive visuals. One particular shot I loved was when Hogarth was in the woods and he stood in front of the outline of the Giant. Another good shot was when Hogarth was in the Giant’s hands as he was walking in the horizon at night.

Many of the music/scores in the film were memorable. It had that sound of imagination and awe, along with a sense of doom and danger peaking out from the distance. Though at times it would be uplifting and joyful. Also since the film took place in the 50s, there were some cues that resembled sounds from that era. Most notably the song “Searchin” by “The Coasters.”

Now there wasn’t a lot of action, all of it was saved until the climax, which was a blast. Watching the Giant go berserk and unleash his assortment of alien tech on Rockwell, was exciting. In both the fun and heartfelt way. One would enjoy the action in this part, but also feel saddened by the fact of the tragic Giant turning bad and almost killing Hogarth. But the film didn’t need action all the way through. It was about the relationship and fun interactions between Hogarth, the Giant, and the other supporting characters.

Speaking of emotions, there was plenty of it. This tied into one of the many themes that the film tackled, existentialism. I thought this was handled great. It was very interesting to see the Giant learning about Earth from Hogarth and how he used that to further get a better grasp of the kind of being he was. He may have impressive weaponry up his sleeves, but he chose not to do that. He decided to not be a gun. As well as have a soul. He was what he chose to be. It was a theme that was tackled nicely in the film and it is something that should transcend to many people out there in the world who are looking for a purpose in their lives.

One plothole that I now noticed for the very first time was something relating to Mansley. He recovered photographic proof of Hogarth and the Giant, thus he didn’t bother to show it to his boss general while at Dean’s junkyard. One could argue that Hogarth found the photo and ripped it apart while Mansley was sleeping. But there was no scene to establish that at all.

The film’s short runtime conflicted me. On one hand, it seemed as though the film was at a good enough runtime and it tied all loose ends of the story. Though on the other hand, there were times where I wished there was maybe a couple more minutes of development in some scenes.

Well, that’s why there’s the Signature Edition, which added an extra two minutes to the film. It added two deleted scenes in the film to bring forth more development in Dean’s/Annie’s relationship and the backstory behind the Giant. The Giant’s backstory I could do without. I think it was better to keep the backstory a mystery. Dean’s/Annie’s relationship was something that could have easily been in the original. Nonetheless, the animation team did a fantastic job of recreating the same art style. It looked very clean and seamless.

If you haven’t seen this movie, stop what you are doing and watch it. This was an animation classic with great characters, witty/charming dialogue, marvelous animation, and had plenty of emotion to make one care. This was a great debut for famous director Brad Bird. While a portion of me was disappointed that a sequel will not be made, most of me loved the original very much to the point where I don’t want there to be one. For it was such a great movie back when I was a kid and it was still great watching it as an adult.