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The Iron Giant (1999)

It came from outer space!

Directed by:

Brad Bird

Rating: 9/10

Running Time: 86 minutes

US Certificate: PG UK Certificate: U

On DVD

Country: United States

Call me presumptuous, but I find it hard to imagine anyone not loving ‘The Iron Giant’. It might not be one of the best-known western animations, owing much to the fact that it’s made by Warner Bros rather than Disney (which means it’s free from cutesy side characters and song ‘n‘ dance numbers), but it is certainly one of the best.

Based on the book by Ted Hughes, it tells the thoughtful and touching tale of a young ‘un named Hogarth who befriends a lighthouse-tall metal giant from outer-space. After rescuing the mechanical man-mountain from a power-station frazzling, Hogarth teaches his conspicuous buddy the ways of Planet Earth and helps him hide out, first in the woods and then at an accommodating scrap yard. You see, it’s the late 1950s and, with Cold War anxiety putting American Government paranoia into overdrive, it’s unlikely they’d take too kindly to the sudden appearance of the world’s biggest kitchen appliance. But how long can Hogarth and his sky-high mate remain concealed? After all, we all know how difficult the suits in charge at Washington find it to locate Weapons of Mass Destruction, but surely even THEY couldn’t fail to trace a 100-foot robot thundering about on their own land? Couldn’t they??

Featuring artwork which is low-key but highly effective, and a story that’ll be equally engrossing for adults as it is for tykes, ‘The Iron Giant’ is the sort of toon that I can imagine being just as watchable 50 years down the line as it is now. It just oozes that rare quality of timelessness. It’s also really well-performed by its voice-over cast, which includes the brilliant Christopher McDonald as snooping FBI dolt Kent Mansley, Jennifer Aniston as Hogarth’s maw, and a pre-famous Vin Diesel as the giant (you might not recognise his voice though – it’s less mechanical and makes use of a wider range of vocabulary than we’re used to from the V Man).

Of course, writer-director Brad Bird is no stranger to getting animation right. He helmed many an episode of ‘The Simpsons’, was an executive consultant on ‘King of the Hill’, and this year wrote and directed a little film by the name of ‘The Incredibles’. Here, he draws on an extensive range of influences (as well as paying homage to 50s sci-fi noir, fans of either ‘E.T’ or Roald Dahl’s ‘The BFG’ will see plenty that’s already familiar to them), but the finished product has a style that’s all its own and is certain to be remembered as a classic in its own right for a very long time.

It's Got: Nuts and bolts.

It Needs: To stay out of the rain – sadly, rust is one of the biggest killers of giant robots today.

DVD Extras The extras aren’t really as good as a lot of the other animated DVDs out there – could it be time to put that right with a Special Edition? All you get in this version is a ‘Making Of’, a trailer, and the Eddie Platt music vid ‘Cha-Hua-Hua’ (which is basically just a montage of clips from the film). DVD Extras Rating: 4/10

Alternatives:

E.T., The BFG

Summary

A success of giant proportions. Everyone should make a point of seeing this movie.

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