Since I recently became so enamored of Iron Man I thought that it would behoove me to see one of its cherished predecessors and when The Iron Giant popped up on my cable box, I hopped to. Although it started off a little slowly, I was trying not to sniffle audibly by the movie's end. Um, that means it was good!
First of all of what TIG has going for it is that it is, I believe, Brad Bird's first movie as director/writer. I loved The Incredibles and am quite annoyed with myself for not having seen Ratatouille in the theaters. While TIG does not have the Pixar-sophistication that the latter movies have, it definitely has the heart.
Secondly, the story. Set on the coast of Maine (yay!) in 1957, it's a familiar tale: boy meets gigantic alien robot; boy befriends gigantic alien robot; boy and gigantic alien robot befriend outcast beatnic; paranoid government agent tries to destroy gigantic alien robot; gigantic alien robot proves that he's a better man than all of us by sacrificing himself to save the townspeople from an unwarranted atomic bomb. Total tear-jerker, I'm telling you: I had to slouch down in my seat so Mr. Mouse didn't catch me wiping my eyes over the presumed demise of a CARTOON GIGANTIC ALIEN ROBOT FROM OUTER SPACE. I am such a sap.
Finally, the characters in Iron Giant just have so much fun. I was laughing and grinning as much during this movie as I was at Iron Man although, to be honest, IM seems to owe quite a bit to its animated forefather (because now that I think about it, the IM comics certainly came before the 1999 Iron Giant). The scene where the gigantic alien robot realizes he can fly - from booster rockets shooting out of his feet - and then does so, joyously - is paid serious homage to by Iron Man. In fact, unless I am misremembering IM, the scene in which Tony Stark is being chased by the fighter jets and then puts on a full-stop, thus allowing the jets to rocket past him while he pulls a hard reverse, is practically a shot-for-shot duplication of the same scene in Iron Giant. (At which point Mr. Mouse shouted out that that Iron Giant scene was a complete rip-off of the same scene in Top Gun; I had no idea he was such a Tom Cruise fan ... and to be honest, I'm sort of stunned.) Regardless of which chicken came before what egg and who is paying homage to whom, Brad Bird does a fantastic job of imbuing these cartoon characters with personality, feeling and life.
Post script w/r/t Iron Man: here is a very interesting review of the movie from the perspective of a computer-security geek. Thanks to Kevin C. for the link.
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