The Iron Giant (1999) – 4/5

Pretty good children’s film with a decent story very much reminiscent of E.T., and some great performances from just about all the voice actors who really help compliment the often stunning hand drawn animation. The film is pure Americana; the classic 50s setting, the pre-Cold War Soviet paranoia, the guilt and fear of a country responsible for having brought about the Atomic Age, the constant Superman references. Heck, even the robot is designed as a throwback to classic American science fiction. The thing just oozes nostalgia.

Though the film is entertaining and very well made, the message is ultimately a bit shallow. Guns are bad. War is bad. Friendship is good. Gee, I had never thought of it that way before.  Thanks movie! Yes, it’s a children’s film, and yes, it wouldn’t be fair to go into it expecting a deep philosophical lecture on mankind’s tendency to fear/destroy that which he doesn’t understand and all that, but I don’t know, it didn’t have to be so gosh dang shallow either. Props to the film for at least ending with a **SPOILERS** great set piece involving an atomic weapon being launched at a small American town. Nothing spells tension more than the imminent threat of nuclear annihilation. And the robot’s final line almost brought a tear to my eye. Almost. **END SPOILERS** Wowzers. Though I doubt something like that would have ever actually happened. Granted this is a film about a giant alien robot sent to enslave humanity that instead befriends a small boy, but come on, let’s try to keep things logically consistent here. Eh, it was a good set piece.

Yeah, good movie. Not the most original of messages, but it’s smart and funny and nice to look at, and full of heart. Worth watching.

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