The Iron Giant
This is one of the best movies that I have seen in a long time. What drew me to the screening was the artistic style of the film. The way the characters are drawn embraces a style and quality that has been missing from animation for some time.
The theater was filled with small children as most animation is aimed at the little monkeys. This is something that usually keeps me away because I don't like the movie experience interrupted by talking and crying and the other noises that kids make when they can't sit still for very long. However, when the film began all the children in the theater became quiet and remained so as the film progressed. They were as enthralled as I was.
The movie did not deviate much from a basic story of an innocent creature who needs to be protected from the cruel world. The theme was similar to E.T., and countless Disney movies. The villain, Kent Mansley, was interesting in that he was an everyman whose evil came not from an inherent cruelty, but from being stupid, petty and fueled by his own ego. His brand of maliciousness is one we see every day and one we are all too capable of committing ourselves if not careful.
Although the military and the government are seen as a menacing force in this movie as in many others, it is more complex than a simple faceless bureaucracy bent on destroying what it doesn't understand. The General acts on what he believes is the right thing given the information he has. When he sees his error, he is capable of change.
The most important scene in the film is where Hogarth rushes to the Giant as he is shooting at the army and makes him realize that he chooses his own destiny. "You choose." We all face choices every day that we make that determine who we are and who we are going to be. At any time we can change the course we are on and be who we choose to be. This is a very adult theme for a children's movie. I hope it is not lost on the brighter ones in the bunch.
While the ending was predictable, I still became a little misty. The writers were able to flesh out a very real and likeable character and make even a cynic like myself a little sentimental.
The best part of the film was that there was NO SINGING! I'm not sure why all animation must also be a musical unless it is just a vehicle to sell records to parents. It was not needed and definitely not missed!