The Iron Giant
Time/place: 7pm showing at Aliso Viejo 20
Sixteen years ago, my group of friends and I went out and saw a movie at Metro Pointe in Costa Mesa. I distinctly remember eating Mexican food (La Salsa? Probably) at outdoor tables before our showtime, but then I remember nothing of the movie-watching experience… until the credits rolled. I was in love. A couple of my friends started to shuffle out of the theater, but I sat there enamored, taking in the brilliant loveliness of the movie I’d just seen until the screen was blank and the pimple-faced teens were sweeping down the rows. I have seen the movie several times since, of course, and it gets me every time. When it was announced that this movie, The Iron Giant, was returning to theaters for a special re-release event (remastered and with a couple of small additional scenes), I bought my ticket almost immediately.
Last night, I saw one of my favorite movies on the big screen again, and I’d almost forgotten just how much I really love it 🙂 .
This review it’s necessarily for the movie, itself, but since MarkMushakian.com reviews (or MarkMushakian.com, for that matter) weren’t even a twinkling of an idea when The Iron Giant first came out, I’m taking this chance to be sure I express just how much I enjoy this movie. There is a fairly small group of movies that really mean something special to me: Rocky, Stranger Than Fiction, WALL-E, etc., and included in this list is The Iron Giant. Last night I was reminded of exactly why. The story and animation are great, certainly, but so are the unique characters, the smart writing, the performances, and the score. In my book, there isn’t a single misstep anywhere, and that’s really something! One thing that struck me during last night’s viewing, though, is just how darn hilarious the movie is. I was laughing out loud throughout the whole picture (at least, when I wasn’t crying and sniveling), and what really sells the humor is that it’s low-key and sincere. The Iron Giant is anything but short on heart, but that also, strangely enough, helps sell the humor, as well. The young Hogarth FEELS like a real kid, and that only improves how the movie uses him in humor. It’s the same for all of the characters… the humor is very character-driven, and it had me rolling more than I remember.
Of course, I also bawled my eyes out 😉 .
So, what does this Signature Edition bring us? First of all, the movie looks absolutely gorgeous. This brief re-release is a celebration/promo for the upcoming new Blu-Ray coming out, which is a very welcome update to the bare-bones DVD that came out when DVD’s still occupied the minority of shelf-space in a video store. The work that went into this version is very evident, though… the original animation work has been done a great justice by this clean-up conversion, and it’s all just exceptionally beautiful.
There are also two quick scenes that were added to the movie, only ever existing in storyboard form, and while these little bits only add up to about 2 minutes of screen time, if one wasn’t familiar with the movie, they’d be unidentifiable. The animation of the new and the old blends seamlessly, and they don’t feel like intrusive and unnecessary additions. As a fan of the movie, myself, I thought they were a very welcome enrichment to the already-amazing story. There was at least one other small change that I noticed, too: a TV commercial that, apparently, was a reference director Brad Bird had originally wanted to include, but couldn’t clear the rights to. Until now.
This theatrical release is a Fathom Events… event, so they had a little intro before the movie by Brad Bird. That, alone, got me teary-eyed. He waxes poetic on the beauty, art, and soul of hand-drawn animation, and while I have no problem with computer-animated movies, I very much share his sentiment of a fondness for this disappearing art form. At the end of the movie’s credits, there was a brief little tease for a documentary that will appear on the Blu-Ray version, and its brevity caused the other theater-goers who remained to groan and even boo the screen, as they were obviously expecting something more in-depth.
I was too busy sitting in the back of the theater with a dopey, post-credits grin on my face to even care 🙂 .
The Iron Giant is easily on the Top 10 list of my favorite movies, so if you can still get tickets for the next showing later this month, I highly advise you go check it out on the big screen — as the odds are that you probably didn’t get to see it that way when it first came out (it was a box-office flop). The movie has a depth and wonder to it that is a rare find, and there is something special in sharing that with a group of strangers. If you choose to wait until the Blu-Ray release, though, that’s okay, too; you’ll still be getting one of the best animated movies of all time, finally beautifully touched up and treated with the love it definitely deserves.