The Iron Giant (1999)

iron giant poster 1999 movie
9.5 Overall Score
Story: 9/10
Acting: 9/10
Visuals: 9/10

Great family adventure story


Movie Info

Movie Name:  The Iron Giant

Studio:  Warner Bros. Feature Animation

Genre(s):  Animated/Sci-Fi/Fantasy/Action/Adventure/Family

Release Date(s):  August 6, 1999

MPAA Rating:  PG

iron giant hogarth

Can I keep him?

It is 1957, and something has crashed in the water off the coast of Rockwell, Maine.  When a boy named Hogarth discovers a giant iron man in the woods, he befriends the creature which seems to survive by consuming metal and is amnesiac.  Unfortunately, others have heard of the iron monster and an agent named Kent Mansley is hunting the monster…with the space race heating up the iron giant could be a Soviet weapon.  Hogarth with the help of a beatnik named Dean must keep the robot hidden, but Mansley is bringing in the military to stop the monster once and for all!

Directed by Brad Bird, The Iron Giant was based on the 1968 Ted Hughes’ novel The Iron Man.  The film was released to universal acclaim and has been listed among the best animated films made but did fail at the box office.

iron giant superman laser eyes

Exterminate! Exterminate! Exterminate!

The Iron Giant was released without much fanfare.  It wasn’t a big Disney feature with songs and music, and it didn’t have the gimmick of a ton of computer animation which was huge at the time of the release.  Movies like The Iron Giant and Titan A.E. in 2000 seemed to suffer as a result because they weren’t cheap to make…it is a shame because The Iron Giant is a great sci-fi family film that not enough people got to see until years and word of mouth caught up.

The story for The Iron Giant is very smart.  The set-up is fairly truthful to the novel, and Pete Townshend of The Who originally proposed the story as a musical (and they released the album The Iron Man:  A Musical in 1989), but the movie smartly dropped that notion.  The movie gains a very real world field by anchoring it in reality…Hogarth reads real comics and the Iron Giant perceives himself as a version of Superman.  The movie doesn’t question much about the Giant’s origin, and its purpose on Earth, but the movie does develop as a bit of a Superman tale with the Iron Giant becoming a hero to Rockwell, Maine.

iron giant town robot

Destroyer of worlds?

The movie does a great job creating a likable cast.  Hogarth, his mother, and Dean feel very real, and it does feel a bit odd to have the very stock character government man in Kent Mansley (Lieutenant General Shannon Rogard is less of a stereotype since he isn’t shoot first ask questions later).   The Iron Giant’s torment of being considered a weapon is very real and sad…something I never felt from other “robots” like the Transformers.

The vocal actors for the movie are very strong.  Eli Marienthal plays Hogarth with Jennifer Aniston providing the voice of his mother.  Harry Connick, Jr. plays the beatnik Dean with Christopher McDonald as the determined Kent Mansley.  John Mahoney is the no-nonsense general that humors Mansley while the voice of the giant is provided by Vin Diesel but Peter Cullen, Sean Connery, and James Earl Jones were also considered.  Other voice actors include. Emmet Walsh, James Gammon, and Cloris Leachmen as inhabitants of Rockwell.

iron giant ending

I am not a gun

The movie is visually stunning.  The movie is prevented in the CinemaScope format that gives it the big ’50s feel.  The Giant was animated with computers to give it the necessary metallic look but the rest of the film has more traditional animation.  The results are clean, crisp and help give the story a big feel.

The Iron Giant is a mini-classic.  The movie deserves more views and as the years pass, it gets a bigger and bigger cult following.  Brad Bird’s success with The Incredibles in 2004 helped garner more attention for this picture, and I hope the attention continues.  The Iron Giant is a winner!

Author: JPRoscoe View all posts by
Follow me on Twitter/Instagram/Letterboxd @JPRoscoe76! Loves all things pop-culture especially if it has a bit of a counter-culture twist. Plays video games (basically from the start when a neighbor brought home an Atari 2600), comic loving (for almost 30 years), and a true critic of movies. Enjoys the art house but also isn't afraid to let in one or two popular movies at the same time.

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