enormous robots has come from deepest space, crash-landed on
Earth and followed eleven-year-old Hogarth Hughes home.
Now, young Hogarth has one big friend and an even bigger problem:
How do you keep a secret that's 50 feet tall? Especially when
a paranoid government agent is on the "alien invader's"
trail, bringing with him the full might of the U.S. military
to destroy the giant. It all adds up to a rousing adventure
that's part metal, part magic and all heart.
The year was 1999. The CG heavy "Star Wars Episode
One" and Walt Disney’s "Tarzan" were
among the crop of high-profile summer blockbusters. Pixar’s
third animated feature, "Toy Story 2" was released
later in November. Somewhere in between, a little-known animation
which featured traditional hand-drawn techniques makes its
bow on the sliver screen.
movie was "The Iron Giant".
receiving accolades from the critics, the box-office was a
disaster, barely causing a ripple in the vast ocean. Some
blame it on Warner’s lackluster marketing campaign (it
was their first animation foray after remaining dormant in
the animation circle for years) while others on the emergence
of computer animation.
"The Iron Giant" deserved a larger group of audience.
Directed by Brad Bird (The Incredibles, Ratatouille) and based
on a children’s book, "The Iron Giant" tells
the story of a gigantic robot which supposedly crash-landed
in 1950’s America and befriend a little boy named Hogarth.
movie on the whole hardly contains any slapstick sketches
in fact some material such as a killing of a deer might be
too harsh for the smaller kiddos. But what Bird brings to
the story is his sincerity and genuine touches on the characters.
The scheming government agent for example is Bird’s
cheeky perspective of a screen villain. And there’s
Dean, a junkyard artist who kept the Iron Giant on his backyard.
voice cast includes Vin Diesel as the title character (before
his immensely popular Fast & Furious stint), Jennifer
Aniston as Hogarth’s mum and Harry Connick Jr as the
weird but kind-heartened Dean.
compared to Bird’s successful work such as "The
Incredibles", "The Iron Giant" is more subtle
and scores lesser on the 'pyrotechnics' as well. It’s
like those early Disney animations but without the musical-and-dance
numbers or cute talking animals to distract you. What it has
is just a simple story about friendship with lots of heart.
only CG component in the entire movie is "The Iron Giant"
and with its release, it marks one of the last animation movies
that employ hand-drawn techniques from Hollywood.
you are a fan of Disney animations such as "The Lion
King", "Tarzan" or even "Lilo and Stitch"
you won’t find it hard not to love “The Iron Giant”.
SPECIAL FEATURES :
This special edition was released in 2004 in conjunction with
Bird’s The Incredibles although a notch better than
the original sparse version, you wish there were more indepth
behind-the-scene featurettes besides those offered here:
Commentary by Director Brad Bird, Head of Animation Tony Fucile,
Story Department Head Jeff Lynch and Steven Markowski: Animation
Supervisor for the Giant – Brad Bird and his
animators are such engaging speakers and this commentary track
certainly is one of the best on the subject of creating animations
and information on the making of the movie.
Additional Scenes including an Alternative Opening and a Giant's
Dream Sequence – With intros by Brad Bird,
the additional scenes are mainly done in storyboarding, animatic
forms, nevertheless deserved a look.
Branching Minidocumentary Segments Highlighting Key Sequences
from the Viewpoint of Score, Character Design, Storyboards
and Animation – Lots of short interviews conducted
with the late Michael Kamen who was the composer, Joe Johnston
(Jurassic Park 3) who serves as the designer for the Iron
Giant, producer and other crew members.
and Creative Consultant Teddy Newton Analyze the Movie's "Annie
Meets Kent" and "Duck and Cover" –
Touches on Teddy Newton who in real-life should posses a quirky
sense of humour as he is the one who created the “Nuclear
Bomb” educational short seen in the movie.
Voice of The Giant" Featuring Brad Bird
and Vin Diesel – A short featurette showing
Bird and Diesel doing the voiceovers.
Stills Gallery and a Theatrical Trailer
round up the extras of this Special Edition DVD.
The strong Dolby Digital 5.1 enables the Iron Giant to roam
earth with loud, thumping sound coming out from the surround
and the visual transfer is excellent as well despite being
a hand-drawn animation feature.
by Linus Tee