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Four Things You (Probably) Didn’t Realize about “The Iron Giant”

Did you know that “The Iron Giant” is, according to Rotten Tomatoes and Metacritic, one of the most critically-acclaimed animated films of all time? The 1999 flick currently holds an 85 Metascore and a 97% Fresh rating (for some reference points, “Frozen” is at 89% and the “Lion King” at 90%), and for good reason: the script is unique, multi-layered, funny and well-paced with a superior voice cast, including Jennifer Anniston, Harry Connick Jr., Christopher McDonald, John Mahoney , and Vin Diesel as the giant.

Too bad nobody saw it.

The movie was a box-office bomb, reportedly losing Warner Bros. as much as 38 million. But perhaps this is understandable: Just one year previously , the studio blatantly attempted to rip off Disney and failed miserably, presenting kids of the era with the abysmal “Quest for Camelot,” a cartoon fantasy-musical with a much-maligned production period that also lost Warner Bros. millions of dollars.

Perhaps moviegoers needed different marketing, or more faith in the studio before they could commit to buying tickets. (But don’t feel too bad for Warner Bros. They got to make the Harry Potter movies, after all.)

Back to “The Iron Giant”: Lucky for you, over the last sixteen years, the flick has slowly started to garner some of the attention it originally deserved, thanks to a screening at the 2010 L.A. Animation Festival, and a steady cult following. To top it off, Hollywood Blvd. Cinema will be showing “The Iron Giant” in a special one-day-only noon matinee on January 31. Be sure to check it out for these, and even more, lessons you probably didn’t realize that “The Iron Giant” taught us:

1. People were straight-up terrified during the Cold War McDonald’s Agent Mansley is an undiluted McCarthyist commie-hunter, who believes that if the U.S. government didn’t build it, then it’s trouble sent to spy on us or worse, therefore it’s his patriotic duty to bring it down at any cost. Okay, so he has to be over-the-top (he’s the villain), but he’s not far off from the Sputnik-eyeing feds of the day. More on this later.

2. It’s not magic, it’s Nanotechnology On the surface, the giant’s design is a bit retro-looking to be the product of a supposedly-superior alien race. However, as the film’s conflict heats up, the giant’s War-of-the-Worlds weaponry reveals itself, as well as its ability to re-assemble itself from separated parts. While this was definitely the stuff of sci-fi in the 50s, what the movie’s audience may not realize is how close we are to realizing this on our own planet, thanks to wireless communication, GPS tracking and more. When a machine’s disparate parts can communicate with, diagnose and repair themselves, what’s the next step? Which leads us to . . .

3. What it really means to be the Big Kid on the Block When the amnesiac giant finally does recall his defensive programming, the lessons he’s learned from the movie’s kid hero, force him to determine who or what he is, and will become. Is he a force to be reckoned with, a symbol of power to be feared, or an idealistic, peaceful creation endowed with a soul by those who believe in his better qualities? Is it even possible to be both? A denouement of “You have a choice! You don’t have to be violent!” is certainly not unusual, especially in a kid’s movie. But against the backdrop of the Cold War and the Red Scare, many adults might see some deeper meaning here. While many critics of the late 90s praised “The Iron Giant’s” art direction, script, style and so forth, some took issue with the left-leaning ideas imparted to the giant, and perhaps to the audience: Guns kill people, the government was paranoid and trigger-happy in the late 50s, etc. If an animated film can bring up these types of discussions, it’s a safe bet that there may be a bolder message here than meets the eye, which earns the story and development yet another nod, to say the least.

Whether for the lessons the story teaches, or just for the chance to beat wintertime confinement to your house, grab the kids and join us on January 31 for our one-day-only presentation of “The Iron Giant.” For even more showtimes and special events going on in January, be sure to visit our homepage at hollywoodblvdcinema.com.


Private comment posted on August 28, 2016 at 1:11:13 am

Private comment posted on August 28, 2016 at 1:05:01 am

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