Before Iron Man or The Iron Lady hit the silver screen The Iron Giant made its small 23 million worldwide gross income (according to boxofficemojo.com). Yes, it wasn’t the most successful movie, or having the longest lasting effect. But it has a pretty strong cult following that still appreciates its charm.
The Iron Giant is a simplistic tale about a interstellar 50 foot robot crashing in 1950’s Maine countryside. A young boy, Hogarth Hughes, finds him and befriends him.The Giant is an almost mute baby-like so full responsibility is thrust onto Hogarth to protect him from others. The backdrop of the setting is the 1950’s Red Scare and the fascination of everything nuclear. This leads to the government’s fears that the giant is similar to Sputnik and Communist Russia. A Washington intelligence officer, Kent, paranoid about the international threat stops at literally nothing to track down and destroy the giant. They run into a hip beatnik, Dean McCoppin, who runs a scrap yard who assists in his protection from Kent.
Brad Bird directs this wonderful picture. He’s currently known for his success in The Incredibles and the recent Mission Impossible: Ghost Protocol. The art is smooth, flawless and creates that wondrous small universe for the story to unfold.
The problem with most animated pictures nowadays is that it follows the same old progression of plot. The rise and fall and coming together of friendships. It’s full of happy-go-lucky songs and dance numbers that push the story along. The Iron Giant doesn’t rely on this structure; it’s pushed by its characters motivations and their connection to each other. It’s a breath of fresh air for any and all viewers.
The Iron Giant is a great coming of age story, one that gives the main character real responsibility and a connectivity to the giant that is believable and heart felt.