A and A's Movie A Day

Watching movies until we run out.

Iron Giant

May 18, 2010

Iron Giant

I have an amusing story to relate to you regarding this movie. So well loved was it in my family that the year it came out on DVD everybody in my family bought it for everybody else that Christmas. I bought it for my Father. My brother bought it for me. My sister bought it for me as well (and I gave my extra to my other sister in turn.) It’s just that kind of movie. You can’t watch it without enjoying it and wanting to share it with somebody else.

The plot of this movie is rooted in fifties cold-war hysteria. When a mysterious giant robot crashes of the coast of Maine it is damaged, losing its memory. It is befriended by Hogarth Hughes, a local kid with a grand imagination. Hogarth, and eventually the hep local artist and scrap dealer Dean, try to hide the robot and teach it about life in rural fifties America. But there is a sinister government agent bent on finding and destroying the robot. An epic confrontation is inevitable.

It’s also the movie that made me fall in love with Brad Bird. His name on the credits for this movie was the first time I remember consciously hearing about him. Of course I later discovered that Brad Bird had been responsible for many of my favorite Simpsons episodes from early in the show. He cannily molds a clever work here blending moments of great humor, adventure, nostalgia and heart all into one solid gleaming piece.

Brad Bird is your guarantee of a great animated film. He has an intuitive sensibility for what the medium is capable of. Check out the interrogation scene in this movie with it’s ominous lighting effects. (You may have seen a similar thing to great effect in the Simpsons episode “Krusty gets Busted” when Sideshow Bob first reveals his sinister side.) And he uses his talents to great effect in this movie. There’s a lot of very slick style to the whole film. From the hep late fifties feel to the great pop culture references. The whole movie just oozes cool.

I could fill the whole rest of my review with examples of the cool. Things like the nod to War of the Worlds in the giant’s eventual transformation, Hogarth’s home town being named for Norman Rockwell because it embodies an idealized America. Things like Dean (clearly named for James Dean) the amazingly cool beatnik. Things like the cheesy horror movie that Hogarth watches on TV at the start of the movie with the telepathic brains (Amanda’s reaction was “That looks like an awesome movie! Why can’t we watch that tonight?”) Oh, and keep an eye out for the two train conductors in this movie – apparently they’re based on friends or mentors of Brad’s. They show up in The Incredibles as well I think.

Furthermore the animation itself in this movie is astonishing. It’s a smooth blend of hand-drawn 2-D animation and slick CGI, so well mixed that at times it’s hard to tell what is what. (Example: Hogarth first appears in the movie riding up to the diner where his mother works on his red bicycle. I think the bicycle is a CG model, but I can’t tell for sure. Anther example: when the giant is eating the power station it grabs a big metal structure and rips it up and chomps it down. The metal structure is hand drawn… I think.)

All in all this is a not-to-be-missed gem of a movie. It resonates powerfully with the sci-fi obsessed kid in me, and it never fails to astonish me with it’s slick production values and clever direction. One of my all time favorites.

May 18, 2010 - Posted by | daily reviews | , , , , , ,

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