It took me forever to see The Iron Giant, going back to 1999 when it was first released. Our All-Natural Science Guy Mike Weilbacher kept telling me how great it was. In fact, everybody has been telling me how great this movie is for years, including Trey from the Philadelphia Film Society when he was here recently! So I finally watched The Iron Giant.
WOW!! This movie is great. I should warn you about a couple of things: there are a lot of explosions in this movie. Also, this movie takes place in 1957, and it’s good to have some historical context for what you are seeing. In 1957, Russia (then the USSR) launched Sputnik, the first man-made satellite, into space. This was at a time when the US and the USSR were engaged in The Cold War, a time when both countries were terrified of the other country and their nuclear capability. It is the time in history that produced some memorable science fiction movies like THEM and Forbidden Planet. The Iron Giant stands with some of the great alien invasion movies of the past.
Hogarth lives with his hardworking widowed Mom in a small coastal town in Maine. He encounters an enormous metal robot that fell from space. No, really…this thing is ENORMOUS. It eats metal. It can also regenerate itself, which becomes important. The Giant is wrecked into pieces, and Hogarth must find a hiding place for the Giant’s recovery. He enlists the help of Dean, a beatnik (bearded poet guy from the 1950’s who drinks a lot of coffee and wears sunglasses) artist who owns a scrapyard. Dean creates art objects from the metal found in the scrapyard. Hogarth entertains the Giant during his recovery by reading comic books. The Giant becomes fond of Superman. When an evil government agent enters the picture, Hogarth and Dean must work together to save the Giant.
This movie looks beautiful. Along with explosions and transformations, there is a good story of friendships and believing in yourself, no matter how people try to discourage you. “You are what you choose to be” is the message repeated in The Iron Giant, and it’s a lesson the movie shares well. The story moves very quickly; the movie clocks in at under 90 minutes. This was the first movie created by Brad Bird, who worked on The Simpsons before he went on to create movies like Ratatouille.
The Iron Giant may be a little intense for younger kids and anyone who is sensitive to a lot of explosions in a movie. There is no blood or gore, but I cannot stress this enough…there are a lot of explosions. There are explosions of another kind when the government agent has to keep running to the bathroom. This movie is rated PG