Earlier this year we had “The BFG”. Later this year we will get “Pete’s Dragon”. And later still we will get “A Monster Calls”. I do not know why this is the year of “Child and Big Thing” but for whatever reason, here we are.
In honor of that I am going to talk about a classic iteration of that sub-sub-genre.
This movie poster is just rad.
“The Iron Giant” came out when I was 14, massively under performed in cinemas, and then went on to become a classic that was underappreciated in its time… and arguably still is.
I actually find this movie hard to talk about because there are only so many ways to say, “It’s really good.” Or the other thing that is often said, “It is really touching.” Or, “You know how Groot was so endearing in ‘Guardians of the Galaxy’? Yeah, that was the voice of Vin Diesel. Guess who voices the titular Giant? Vin Diesel.”
The movie is a period piece that intentionally evokes the strange paranoia against communist agents that nearly resulted in the end of the world. What is odd is the movie was released in 1999, and much like the movie “The Siege” (which is in a totally different genre, and has a different cast, and is not animated) these movies seem to be ahead of their time evoking the post-9/11 paranoia as a thing to ruminate on. In fact, that might be why the movie picked up so much steam years later as it spoke to such feelings while evoking the better angels of Americana (Superman is directly referenced in the movie, and the Iron Giant also has the Christ like bit of self-sacrifice during the climax).
Overall, the animation is top notch as it was directed by Brad Bird, who is the modern Prometheus of animation. The humor is great and has been gif-ed numerous times (though I do wonder how many people know that this is the origin of some of those). And the action at the climax evokes the 1950’s B-movie alien attack perfectly, so much so that I wonder if this movie could have been made in live action during that era using stop motion, forced perspective, and other methods that allowed “THEM!” to be made.
If you enjoyed “The BFG” or think that “The Monster Calls” or “Pete’s Dragon” look interesting I would encourage finding this movie. “The Iron Giant” is great fun and should be enjoyed by people who like fun things with a science fiction twist rather than the fantasy spin this year’s movies are offering.