Starring: Eli Marienthal, Jennifer Aniston, Vin Diesel
Director: Brad Bird
Running Time: 86 mins
The Iron Giant is an American film about a boy who stumbles across a giant metal man in the woods behind his house. Upon discovering the giant is friendly, he develops a strong bond, only for the US Government to begin investigating sightings of the giant amidst the tensions of the Cold War.
This is one of those films that sums up the often awesome power of animation. With a touching story and an impressive look at childhood, The Iron Giant is hugely engrossing to watch. Moreover, its sci-fi elements make it a hugely fun watch, whilst its Cold War setting also provides for some enthralling and powerful moments throughout, making this an extremely diverse and impressive film from start to (almost) finish.
The film is on the whole very impressive, but the best part of all is the relationship between the young boy and the Iron Giant. In a similar vein to E.T., the film spends more time focusing on the strength of the unlikely pair’s friendship than pure sci-fi, and as such we get a gleeful and touching story just like any great childhood movie.
That relationship is the centrepiece of the entire film, and it works wonders in increasing the drama and tension of everything around it. Because you feel so strongly for the Iron Giant, and know how friendly he is, it makes every one of the government’s efforts to uncover and destroy him all the more threatening, even on a personal level, which was brilliantly effective throughout the film.
Another element that makes this such an impressive watch is its Cold War setting. Although perfectly suitable for children, this film isn’t afraid to stray into some heavier territory, and so it does as it looks at the USA’s sometimes jingoistic approach to the Cold War through their efforts to destroy the Iron Giant, as well as a hugely powerful sequence which touches on the devastating power of nuclear weapons.
This film isn’t necessarily making a statement on the Cold War and nuclear weapons, and its primary focus is always the story about the boy and the Iron Giant, which is what makes it so good from start to finish. It’s a well-directed, exciting, powerful and touching story that is fully engrossing for 99.9% of the runtime (save for the very last shot – which is hugely disappointing) and that’s why it gets a 7.9 from me.