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IRON GIANT, THE

SYNOPSIS:
October, 1957 and Russia has just launched Sputnik. Off the coast of Rockwell, Maine, single mother Annie Hughes (voice of Jennifer Aniston) works at the local diner, while keeping a watchful eye on her nine-year-old son, Hogart (voice of Eli Marienthal), who is always on the lookout for alien invaders. Tall tales about a giant metal man begin to spread, prompting the arrival of government agent Kent Mansley (voiced by Christopher McDonald). After befriending the Iron Giant (voiced by Vin Diesel), Hogarth teams up with beatnik artist Dean (voiced by Harry Connick jnr) who hides the visitor in his junkyard. Dangerous fears and prejudices are rife in Rockwell…

"My favourite scene in The Iron Giant finds Hogarth displaying his comics, sitting on the ground before the 50 foot robot. He explains the difference between super hero Superman and Atomo the metal menace – herewith the moral of good and evil. This delightful scene allows an innocent nine-year old boy to explain the difference to us all. The Iron Giant is not a cutesy animated movie where the characters burst into song and flowers dance on rainbows. It's like a cartoon strip story that explodes into animation: the colourful, inventive world of an adventuring lad whose notions of friendship and loyalty bring him close to a giant with a heart. Built on a narrative with complex true-to-life characters, the animation is clean and accessible, the message plain: 'you are what you want to be'. An enchanting melodic soundtrack sweeps us along, while the voice of Harry Connick Jnr captivates. All the voices are well cast – Jennifer Aniston makes a feisty today-mum, while Eli Marienthal instills gusto into Hogarth. Although most of the animation is quite simple, scenes during the storm at sea are wonderfully complex, as are the layers of colours and textures in the forest. The simple art of story telling with characters that engage results in a delectable and refreshing interlude. With a name like Brad Bird (writer/director) at the helm, how could you fail but be enchanted?"
Louise Keller

"Positive messages for kids and enough savvy in the script for adults makes The Iron Giant a good bet for parents shepherding the flock in and out of multiplexes during school holidays. Based on a children's book written by Poet Laureate Ted Hughes in 1968, it's essentially a Frankenstein story with a metal alien standing in for the monster and a wide-eyed, all-American boy supplying sensitivity and understanding so lacking in the hysterical townsfolk and G-man who's come to shoot first and ask questions later. Sounding uncannily like the voice of Babe, Hogarth (voiced by Eli Marienthal) is an appealing young hero and there are some nice touches in the layout of small town America in the cold war. The best of these is beatnik Dean (voiced by Harry Connick Jr) whose hep-talk and junk-art sculptures are highlights, especially for adults. The metal man, who looks like he's from the Terrence and Phillip school of animation design, is a big loveable galut whom children should have no trouble warming to. It tips over into sentimentality more than once but manages to stay on track with some sharp anti-gun comments, satirical swipes at nuclear propaganda of the era and a welcome depiction of Government types as the bad guys and beatniks and oddballs as the good guys. The animation is impressive in wide screen and a zippy soundtrack of 50's numbers (including the delightfully rude I Got A Rocket In My Pocket by Jimmy Lloyd) keeps it bubbling along. Some of the moral messages might be too complex for tiny tots but this one should keep most moppets and grown ups in attendance thoroughly entertained."
Richard Kuipers

"From the gripping, dynamic opening sequence to the surprise (up) ending, Iron Giant is a genuine and impressive pleasure. An alternative to Disney's animation style, this is soft edges, diffused colours and glowing lights. The result is captivating with its 'natural' approach to light and immensely satisfying in character creation. Of course, the latter also relies on some fine voice work, especially from Harry Connick jnr, whose character as a junk yard artist is a real landmark - especially for an animated family movie - in an earthy, iconoclastic individual. Jennifer Aniston also scores as the young mother, and the script & direction brings these two characters together expertly in a subtle romantic touch at the end that is a real payoff for adults. On the way, we encounter a baddie worthy of the high moral ground against which the story is set, in a nasty swipe at spooks in the US intelligence community, which no doubt stands for the conservative establishment. (The military gets off with a warning…..) An apparently simple tale, full of positive anti gun morals and a tale of friendship (boy meets metal), Iron Giant is a strong story with flashes of animation brilliance; the snow, the storm, the characterisations, the haunting loneliness of the giant… And food for thought, the mother and child at the centre of the story struggle along without the father, and we have no clue to his disappearance. Little is made of this in the script, but psychologists amongst us may be preparing a thesis on why and what this means. In the meantime, enjoy something simple, well done and different."
Andrew L. Urban

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CRITICAL COUNT
Favourable: 3
Unfavourable: 0
Mixed: 0

TRAILER

IRON GIANT (G)
(US)

VOICES: Jennifer Aniston, Harry Connick Jnr, Vin Diesel, Christopher McDonaldJames Gammon, Cloris Leachman, John Mahoney, M.Emmet Walsh

DIRECTOR: Brad Bird

PRODUCER: Allison Abbate, Des McAnuff

SCRIPT: Tim McCanlies (story by Brad Bird, based on the book by Ted Hughes)

ART DIRECTOR: Alan Bodner

HEAD OF ANIMATION: Tony Fucile

MUSIC: Michael Kamen

PRODUCTION DESIGN: Mrk Whiting

RUNNING TIME: 88 minutes

AUSTRALIAN DISTRIBUTOR: Roadshow

AUSTRALIAN RELEASE: April 6, 2000 (Vic, WA); March 13 (NSW, SA); March 20 (Qld)

VIDEO RELEASE: September 4, 2000

VIDEO DISTRIBUTOR: Warner Home Video







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