Saturday, 12 July 2014

The Iron Giant (1999)

Five years before he made the excellent and hugely successful The Incredibles, Brad Bird made this excellent but sadly unsuccessful film, which just goes to show that sometimes good films simply fail to find an audience.

And make no mistake, this is a very good film, with all the heart and humour that makes The Incredibles such a joy to watch.

It's the height of the Cold War in 1950s America, and youngster Hogarth Hughes lives with his widowed mother in the small town of Maine.  A bright kid with a love of science fiction, Hogarth isn't popular with his peers, and spends a lot of time wrapped up in comics or movies or other lonely pursuits.  That is, until a strange object plummets to Earth.

That object is the titular character of the film, a gigantic iron robot of unknown origin and purpose, whom Hogarth comes to befriend.

Of course, there wouldn't be much to the film without some conflict, and that soon arrives in the form of Kent Mansley, an ambitious and borderline paranoid government agent sent to investigate strange reports from the area.  Mansley doesn't initially place much stock in the tales, until his car gets eaten.

That would probably change your outlook on things.

Anyway, with the tensions of the Cold War driving him, Mansley is determined to find and destroy the metal monolith, which he assumes must be of Communist origin, and he's willing to go to pretty much any lengths to achieve his goal.

The film has a likeable protagonist, a hissable villain, and a story that's packed with great little moments.  It's also lovely to look at: I really like the character designs and visual feel of the movie.

I heartily recommend this: it sets out to be a good movie on every level, not just a 'good film for kids' and it achieves that goal.

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