A and A's Movie A Day

Watching movies until we run out.

Movie 79 – Iron Giant

Iron Giant – May 18th, 2010

Man, I am such a grown up. When the giant makes the train crash? Dude, so not cool. My thoughts at the time were all about how much of a mess that would be and what was the train carrying? Hopefully not passengers, or livestock, or anything dangerous. And those poor engineers! Such a grown up. But that’s only at the outset of the movie, and my other grown up concern was answered in full (how the heck was a kid going to keep the giant supplied with metal? Oh, scrap yard, okay) so that’s good. I do wonder about the historical time period and just how much metal scrap was lying around in 1958. Sure it was over a decade after the end of the war, but still. I did mention I’m a grown up. Alas.

I ended up getting into the movie, though, so while I did make a comment here and a comment there about historical accuracy and continuity (I don’t care how cold the water was when Hogarth went swimming – snow a day or two later, even in Maine, seems odd to me), it was mostly in jest, because I can’t help but comment on movies. It’s a thing. I mean, how can I not? I comment about movies I love and movies I hate. I try to be equal opportunity in my riffing.

I don’t know if I love this movie. Not yet. But I did enjoy it. A good chunk of that is the story, which is a rollicking adventure story about a boy who finds a big robot who’s crash landed near a small town and the trouble the boy goes to in order to hide the giant and teach it about earth and humans and comic books. Obviously a giant robot would frighten the townspeople, so of course he has to be hidden, but he also likes to eat metal, which could get a little costly and/or destructive, so the boy gets a local scrap dealer, a beatnik-type artist, to hide the robot and feed him. And then of course the Army shows up. Duh. Now, that story – boy finds giant robot, boy hides giant robot with help from friendly adult, military shows up to confiscate/destroy robot – could probably be set in several different time periods. It could be set today. But the other chunk of what I enjoyed about the story is the time period of the late 1950s. Early Cold War, fear of atomic weapons, duck and cover, etc. It’s the perfect time period for the story and the movie is based on a book written in 1968. I’m going to have to find it and read it, because I’d like to see what was changed.

The movie does a great job with the setting and the characters, making them distinctly of their time without making them completely ridiculous caricatures. There’s some great humor for adults in a lot of the lines, especially little asides and throwaways from Hogarth’s mother and the beatnik, Dean. The movie’s villain, Manley, made me feel a real urge to slap him, and that’s the sign of a good movie villain to me. But again, what I really liked was the time period. The movie makes it clear, through the duck and cover filmstrip in Hogarth’s classroom, the music, and the eventual atomic missile climax, just when this is all taking place. And obviously stakes are high, as are tensions. But it doesn’t drag the movie into something more serious than it can handle. Sure, it’s got serious themes of the dangers of escalating violence and arms races, as well as losing perspective. And that’s on top of the less militaristic themes of choosing your own path and being yourself. But this is also a cartoon made for a wide age range, not just adults, so it’s got to have humor and charm and fun to balance all of that out. Of course, movies made for adults can have all of the above as well, but it’s kind of required for family fare. And it turned out great.

All in all, I enjoyed the movie tonight. No musical numbers to get stuck in my head and while it didn’t have Rene Auberjonois, it did have Vin Diesel, so that’s cool. I’m hip to that.

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

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