By Sherrie Li
By Falling James
By Amanda Lewis
By Amy Nicholson
By Amy Nicholson
By Jennifer Swann
By Scott Foundas
By Sherrie Li
The Iron Giant's theme of fear of the unknown is craftily balanced against the power of innocent imagination. Using the 1950s as a focal point, dazzlingly tricked out with period details (my favorite was a commercial for a nearly forgotten breakfast cereal called Maypo), the filmmakers map a witty prophecy of contemporary America, where the same dreads and dreams are doing battle. The animation is particularly beautiful: Though the characters have a comic-strip physicality on the order of King of the Hill, their movements are beautiful and subtle, and to these eyes surpass Disney. The way the pickup truck belonging to Hogarth's mom gives a little shake when she shuts it off; the misty way car headlamps halo a face against the night sky -- The Iron Giant abounds in such microscopic delights.
Hogarth eludes the Pentagon man (Christopher McDonald) by hiding his new friend in a metal scrapyard run by the beatnik artist, where for once the giant is free to eat his fill. There's a nice bit where the artist has to try to teach the creature to distinguish between his sculptures and random junk. This is no cheap shot: Time and again, art in one form or another saves the monster from his terrified persecutors. Hogarth shows the Iron Giant his collection of comic books, and the giant repeats the word Superman with the same tender cognition he later applies when he discovers the word soul.
The idea of a monster with a soul would have horrified the nuns at my parochial school, but the filmmakers make it come alive with a sweet vengeance. There's a wonderful moment, midway through the film, where the giant simply lies on his back in the junkyard, pondering the stars. In endowing him with such poetry, Bird and McCanlies repay the comic books they clearly loved as boys by making visible their true value. Superman is nothing if not a vision, available to all children, of the powers and the goodness locked up within them. The Giant -- like the '50s children who were browbeaten for their love of comics -- feels within himself the soul of a superhero, but he discovers this only through careful attention to the playthings of the human imagination.
THE IRON GIANT| Directed by BRAD BIRD | Written by TIM McCANLIES | Based on the book THE IRON MAN by TED HUGHES | Produced by ALLISON ABBATE and DES McANUFF | Released by Warner Bros. | Citywide
MYSTERY MEN | Directed by KINKA USHER | Written by NEIL CUTHBERT Based on the Dark Horse Comic Book series created by BOB BURDEN | Produced by LAWRENCE GORDON, MIKE RICHARDSON and LLOYD LEVIN Released by Universal Pictures | Citywide
Join My Voice Nation for free stuff, film info & more!
Find everything you're looking for in your city
Find the best happy hour deals in your city
Get today's exclusive deals at savings of anywhere from 50-90%
Check out the hottest list of places and things to do around your city