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Review

‘The Iron Giant’ signature edition reminds us why we loved the original

Avatar

October 8, 2015

It’s back again, once in theaters and now forever remastered and out to buy, and it still has that massive heart in a big iron guy that people have remembered and loved. “The Iron Giant” is back again in a signature edition and all its animated storytelling genius is still retained.

The story goes something like this: Hogarth Hughes is hearing a lot of things around his town that a big, scary object has appeared in the ocean, and that it could be aliens from Mars. Finding suspicion around him, he sets out to find what’s invaded his little 1950’s town, and he finds that something much bigger has come down to Earth. A giant metal robot has crashed into town, and it doesn’t know where it came from or what it is doing here.

But Hogarth has found himself a new friend, one that is being searched for by the government and seen as a threat. With hiding spaces running out and danger escalating, Hogarth and even the Iron Giant himself will need to defend the new friends they’ve both made, all while running from the sinister things that lurk inside the giant.

Most of the love I have to give for “The Iron Giant” comes from my own personal experiences with the film. Marathons would air for a full week on TV of the film and I grew to love it as one of my favorite animated films of all time. Returning again to it has only cemented my admiration for it and reminded me of why it is an important film for kids and adults alike.

A plot like this seems simple and one we are all familiar with: The Boy and his X story. X can really be anything, from an alien to even a zebra, and in this case it is a robot, but it’s how it’s done that works so well. The relationship between main character Hogarth and the Iron Giant is filled with a lot of energy and excitement but also fraught with danger, recklessness, and uncertainty.

All these elements come out quite well between the two characters, and helped along more by the great side characters like Dean the beatnik, who gives the giant a home, or even Hogarth’s mother, who’s caught between her son’s safety and her financial troubles. There’s a lot of interplay between all of the characters that makes the film feel very human, demonstrating the timelessness of it and why it is even back again in theaters.

Themes of fear and paranoia are also quite present, represented by the main villain of the film Kent Mansley, a government agent who sets out to find the giant. A necessary character to the film, he feels like he’d be a hero in any other movie, a man who puts on a masculine façade and tries to stop an incoming invasion. But here in this film, he’s worrisome, looking for glory, anger-prone, and represents the paranoia felt by many Americans at the time the film was set, during the Cold War.

He’s a great villain that illustrates what happens when fear controls us in uncertain times, though the theme that dominates greater here are the lessons on life The Iron Giant learns. Like a child, his mind ponders his own life, what it means to be alive, but also fears what’s inside himself and the dark intentions he was brought to Earth for. In the end, the characters never say that what is inside him is bad, but that using it to hurt others is what’s bad, and that we have the choice to stop that; Heavy themes, but themes that children should not be coaxed away from.

Good things can be taught to kids through this movie, and you’ll not find a more respectful way to have them taught to your child anywhere else, especially not in the current film industry. A film like this needs to be shown to everyone, because sometimes all it takes is a giant metal man to move your heart in the best of ways, and I have no doubt that it will move people today as it once did for me.

Ryan Funes is a lover of all things movie, TV, video games and stories and wants to become a television writer someday. In his spare time he enjoys hanging with friends, tapping into his imagination, and watching cartoons of all kinds.