The Iron Giant (1999) can now be added to my Animation in April list beside Coraline. You can check out The Iron Giant right now on Netflix, and I suggest you do if you haven’t seen this classic movie. The animation is about a robot falling from the sky near the town of Rockwell in the late 1950’s after Sputnik and is based off a 1968 novel, The Iron Man, written by Ted Hughes. The Iron Giant is filled with a childlike curiosity and lots of warmth. Though the storyline is simple but enjoyable, the animation is fun and this Iron Giant is full of heart.
Quick points of review:
- Beautiful animation. Reminds me of older Disney animation at times.
- A simple storyline with humorous moments.
- Positive messages throughout the movie explored with heartfelt warmth.
- Enough for adults, kids, and kids that pretend to be adults to enjoy.
*Spoiler Alert! If you are avoiding spoilers, do not read further. Turn back now. You’ve been warned.*
Hogarth Hughes (Eli Marienthal) is just a kid living in the town of Rockwell. Hogarth witnesses something falling from the sky and soon realizes it’s a robot. Hogarth overhears an old man in the diner where his mother, Annie Hughes (Jennifer Aniston) works talking about it when he is trying to catch his pet squirrel with the help of his new friend, Dean (Harry Connick Jr.). No one actually believes the story is real but the old man says someone from the government is coming to check out the story.
Hogarth befriends the giant robot (Vin Diesel) and learns the robot has to eat metal to survive. The two become fast friends and Hogarth realizes the robot can learn to communicate with him. Hogarth decides to bring the robot home and hide him so no one will be able to harm him after the robot is hit by a train and begins to put himself back together again.
The government sends Kent Mansley (Christopher McDonald) to investigate the rumors about the robot. At first, Mansley doesn’t seem to believe the account could be even slightly true but quickly changes his mind after a huge bite is taken out of his vehicle. Mansley also finds a damaged BB gun with part of Hogarth’s name engraved on the stock of it.
After realizing the name matches Hogarth’s, Mansley rents a room from Annie Hughes so he can question and spy on the boy in hopes of finding out about The Iron Giant. Mansley consistently harasses Hogarth for any information about the robot until Hogarth can escape the paranoid man and play with the robot.
The robot eventually becomes hungry and Hogarth tries to help him find metal to eat. All the two find is a beat up car on the side of the road that Dean is about to haul off to his scrap yard. The boy and his giant robot follow Dean to the scrap yard. That night Hogarth talks to Dean about the robot, but Dean reluctantly lets him stay. Even when Mansley calls in the military to investigate Dean’s scrap yard, Dean is able to hide the giant robot by pretending he is scrap.
Hogarth and the robot spend lots of time together. The robot begins to learn to communicate with Hogarth more. One day the robot sees a deer shot by local hunters and the deer dies. The robot learns from the boy about death and it makes The Iron Giant sad but Hogarth teaches the robot that they have souls and souls do not die.
While The Iron Giant and Hogarth play, Hogarth pretends to shoot the giant with his toy gun. The robot’s eyes turn red and shoot a ray at Hogarth when he sees the gun. Dean grabs Hogarth before the robot can hurt the boy and reprimands the robot. The robot becomes upset after realizing he almost hurt his friend and runs away. After The Iron Giant leaves, Dean realizes the robot was only acting defensively when he saw a gun. Dean and Hogarth take a motorcycle to try to catch up to the robot after realizing the robot wasn’t trying to hurt anyone.
Two boys in the town hold onto a ledge of a building after spotting the robot. When the boys yell out for help, the giant robot hears their cries and saves the two boys in front of the town’s people. After saving the boys, Mansley spots the robot in the town just as the military is about to give up and leave. Mansley orders the military to head back to the town and attacks the robot.
When the military begins their assault on the robot, the robot turns into a weapon and begins to shoot at the military. Hogarth is able to talk the robot out of attacking the military and reminding the robot he can choose to be who he wants to be. While the military is still attacking, the robot moves Hogarth out of the way to try to keep him safe but the boy becomes unconscious.
The robot believes Hogarth is dead and prepares to attack the military again. Annie and Dean are able to wake up Hogarth but Mansley convinces the military to continue offshore with the attacks. Hogarth calms the robot down again while Dean talks to the military about the situation. The military is ready to stand down but Mansley grabs the radio and tells them to attack.
Everyone looks out towards the sea as the missile launches. The general reminds Mansley that he has doomed them all since they will not be able to survive the blast in their location. Realizing his mistake, Mansley tries to get away but the robot stops him from leaving. Mansley is forced to face his doom with the rest of soldiers and the town’s people.
Hogarth explains to the robot what has happened and about their demise, but the robot says goodbye to the boy and tells him not to follow. Just like Superman the robot takes to the skies and destroys the missile in the air.
After the robot saves the town, the town erects a statue of the robot. Hogarth receives a part that was recovered from the robot after he stopped the missile and that night the part rolls out. Other parts start heading towards the activated head of the robot on a glacier.
Geeky Talk’s Reaction to the Movie
The Iron Giant is an enjoyable movie with beautiful moments. You can tell it was the beginning of CG in animation, but it seems to be used in subtle spots. Most of the CG seemed to be still pieces in the movie so it’s hard to tell it’s even there for a lot of the film. This appears to be fine because what the viewer is left with is a beautiful animation reminiscent of older Disney animations. There is almost a Fox and The Hound or maybe even Robin Hood feel to The Iron Giant. The art done for the robot and Hogarth, especially together is unforgettable. I certainly see why this movie might be among some of animation fans’ favorites.
The storyline is simple and easy for younger audiences to follow. I personally enjoy a more complex plot, but the simplicity did provide time for the viewer to savor the artwork and even the humor peppered throughout the movie. The paranoid Mansley in The Iron Giant provides some chuckles especially when you think about the time period of this piece. The movie is set during the Cold War in 1957 and even the children in The Iron Giant practice school drills of hunching under their desks. While some of the humor in the movie comes from knowing a bit of history, there are more physically funny moments as well. There is just something about a robot that eats metal and is learning about the world that easily provides an innocent humor like chucking a metal car miles out into the open just to hide it or the largest cannon ball you’ve seen in your life while swimming. The Iron Giant does not loose its innocent sense of humor and the simple storyline supports it.
The Iron Giant keeps its warmth throughout the animation with positive messages about war and choosing to be a good person. The huge robot defensively attacks weapons but Mansley and the military put everything at risk just to attack the robot, including themselves. The film speaks of the overly destructive path of violence and the need to break the cycle somewhere to stop it. Despite the robot being a defensive weapon, he chooses to save the town’s people by sacrificing himself. The themes are easily understood but the simplicity of the film’s positive message provides a heart-warming experience.
Overall, I think The Iron Giant is a really great animated film and now I am left wondering what other older animations I might have missed out on. The Iron Giant is an easily likable animation that can be enjoyed with the family and the little ones. The Iron Giant is not a complicated film, but it is a good quality animation with warmth and innocence.
I recommend you watch The Iron Giant right now on Netflix if you have not seen it or if it has been a while since your last viewing. Watching The Iron Giant has given me a craving to rewatch Big Hero 6. I think if you liked Big Hero 6 you just might enjoy The Iron Giant too.
Have you seen The Iron Giant? What do you think of the animation and what did you enjoy about the movie? Put your Geeky Talk in the comments below and may all your watches be geeky!