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Scott Ventura >> Movie Commentary >> July 2000 >> The Iron Giant

The Iron Giant

Movie Commentary by Scott Ventura


Scott's Rating:
4 / 5
Times Seen:
Viewing Date:
July 2000
IMDB Name:
Iron Giant, The (1999)
Brad Bird
adventure, animated-feature, sci-fi
MPAA Rating:
PG for fantasy action and mild language.

Giant Wonders

There is so much to praise about The Iron Giant. It is a movie with wit, heart, and great action. It also happens to be animated, although it has very little in common with the long lineage of Disney musicals that have pigeonholed animation of late. The story takes place in Rockwell, Maine, which was no doubt chosen in honor of that bastion of 1950's American normalcy, Norman Rockwell. With the exception of the villain, all of the characters are reasonable and intelligent and caring, and that makes it a joy to watch. As an added bonus, the story doesn't skimp on certain mature elements, garnering it a PG instead of a G. It's thought-provoking enough that I can imagine parents and kids discussing much more than the funny parts afterwards.

Another thing that makes Iron Giant a delight is the successful marriage of cel animation and computer graphics. Unlike, say, Tarzan, I was never distracted by a mismatch of animation styles. There are nifty moments involving light that are particularly beautiful, including waving a flashlight around in the woods. Unfortunately, I can't discuss some of my favorite effects without spoiling parts of the movie. There are some terrific throwaway jokes that I'd almost forgotten by the end, but were great laughs at the time.

Cast Iron

The cast of Iron Giant is terrific. Eli Marienthal is very effective at voicing Hogarth with the right level of innocence. He's also been great as a younger brother in both American Pie and Slums of Beverly Hills. Jennifer Aniston is proving herself to be quite capable in voiceover roles, having also done an episode of "South Park". Harry Connick Jr. is already one of my favorite singers, and his casting as the beatnik artist is both funny and appropriate. John Mahoney's general is dripping with the sarcastic wit that makes his role on "Frasier" so much fun.

Giant Score

Michael Kamen's score is absolutely terrific. I found myself comparing it with Aaron Copland. It drips with a classic American feeling, but shimmers and sparkles in perfect sync with the movie.

DVD Comments

Iron Giant's DVD is pleasant if not overly packed with features. There is a twenty-two minute documentary that was apparently more like thirty minutes when broadcast with commercials. There are many one-screen cast and crew biographies as well as the theatrical trailer and a music video assembled exclusively out of clips from the movie. The menu design is pretty good, although the selector is occasionally a bit too small to pick out easily.

See the IMDB information on The Iron Giant's DVD or compare prices at DVD Price Search.

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Copyright 2000-2001 by Scott Ventura. All rights reserved.