HTS Moderator , Reviewer
Title: The Iron Giant
HTS Overall Score:95
Back before Vin Diesel was growling out “I am GROOT!” he was making monosyllabic mumblings as ANOTHER giant being from out of this world. This time it was as a giant robot in one of Warner’s most successful and well-loved animated films. Warner isn’t known for a lot of great animated films in the last 20 years (well, besides “The Lego Movie”), but “The Iron Giant” was a sleeper hit that debuted director Brad Bird in his first feature length film, before he made the move to Pixar with his widely loved sophomore work, “The Incredibles”. Much beloved, but for some reason almost forgotten about. After the special edition DVD years ago we never saw another peep out of Warner, even when it pretty much SCREAMED for a Blu-ray release. Years of petitions and crying later we FINALLY get to see it in Hi-definition once more, and warner has not only included the much coveted (and frankly superior in my opinion) director’s cut, but also given a stripped down release that just includes the disc, as well as a fully decked out “box a swag” edition that comes with a DVD, Digital copy, collector’s packaging and the kitchen sink too.
Hogarth Hughes (Eli Marienthal) is a young boy living back in the 50s. An era that was just as dangerous and paranoid as it was exciting. The atomic age was upon us and the U.S.A. (and probably the rest of the world) were all running scared as the super powers were all gaining nuclear weapons that could wipe out the human race if misused. One of their worst fears was realized when a giant metal robot (voiced by Vin Diesel) crashes lands in Hogarth’s comfy little town. While no one will believe the crazy old mooweeer who actually saw the robot, Hogarth takes advantage of the situation and makes friends with it. The robot seems to have a computer’s version of amnesia. It can’t remember where it came from and what it was doing here, it just imprints on Hogarth like a little kitten, or young child, and the two become inseparable. Roping in the local junk man, Dean (Harry Connick Jr.), Hogarth and the Robot form a unique bond and friendship, one that is on shaky ground as there is a new threat in town.
This new threat comes in the form of a paranoid and slightly maniacal government agent by the name of Kent Mansley (Christopher McDonald). Determined to find the metal man and destroy it, Kent uses all of the copious resources at his finger tips to find out just WHERE this new “threat” is hiding. The only problem is that Hogarth sees him coming and going, so getting proof to his superiors is going to be a little daunting. However, persistence wins out, and Mansley just may get his wish. A confrontation between man and machine, but one that may not end in humanity’s favor.
[img]http://www.hometheatershack.com/gallery/file.php?n=78698[/img]While Brad Bird is mainly known for “The Incredibles”, his first effort at an animated feature film was actually JUST as good, if not slightly more constrained than his sophomore effort. In fact if I had to watch one movie over and over again while locking the second up for life, I would actually have to choose “The Iron Giant” over “The Incredibles”. I know, I know, that’s considered heresy by some, but It is the truth. Brad has always done a magnificent job of creating mature animated films that are accessible to children and adults alike, and as much as I’m loathe to say it, this is one of his finest works. The Robot and Hogarth encounters are sweet and loveable as a Disney film, but there is so much more going on underneath the surface for those paying attention. Issues of hatred, paranoia, and love are brought up in typical fashion. But there is also a sense of dread and real fear that come into play and the final battle between the Robot and the humans is intensely visceral, while still not feeling TOO intense for young children. The biggest underpinning theme seems to be one of free wile, and the ability to choose WHAT you want to be. No matter how you were raised, born or simply told what to do.
The cast is an all-star cast, with a highly popular Vin Diesel (at the time) along with Jennifer Aniston as Hogarth’s mother, and the still popular Harry Connick Jr. as backup (even though Harry was starting to fade from popularity at that point in his career). Aniston does the job well, but is more of a background character and really isn’t given a whole lot to really work with (though I have zero complaints with the limited time we have with her), with the big lifting on Vin’s grunts and monosyllabic statements that will make even the most hard hearted human snuffle at least a FEW times.
Rated PG for fantasy action violence, language, some thematic material and smoking
[img]http://www.hometheatershack.com/gallery/file.php?n=78706[/img]It’s been years since I saw my old DVD (that I sadly lost) of “The Iron Giant”, but the Blu-ray is a revelation. The hand drawn animation still holds up extremely well and the transfer is top notch. The image is bright and colorful, with a slightly somber feeling of blue and black that creates a lightly (but intentionally) dim picture at times. Outside in the snowy winter air the bright whites of the snow stand out and the burnished red glow of the Robots eyes contrast nicely. The lines are all intact without any haloing or DNR to mar the image at all. Jaggies are nonexistent and the black levels maintain a deep inky tone that doesn’t delve into crush or other artifacting. Basically, we get a superb encode of a film that REALLY deserves it. Well done Warner.
[img]http://www.hometheatershack.com/gallery/file.php?n=78714[/img]Wowza! Warner didn’t hold back with this 5.1 DTS-HD MA mix. It’s powerful and EARTHSHAKING from beginning to end. Dialog is strong and crisp, while the surrounds get a healthy shaking of the legs with tons of little noises making their way into the rear experience. The crunching of snow under the Robot’s feet, snapping trees in the background, or the shriek of bullets whizzing by over the shoulder. LFE is deep and punishing, with HUGE waves of bass just rocking you back into the seat. The first crash landing of the Robot is enough to hint at greatness in the lower octaves, but it’s nothing compared to the brutal pounding that we get once the film is really underway. Every footstep sounds like the earth is caving in around you, while the battle sequence between the military and the Robot shake every fiber of your being with pounding and relentless LFE.
• The Giant’s Dream documentary NEW!
• A personal letter from director Brad Bird
• “The Iron Giant: Signature Edition” trailer
• Theatrical version commentary by Brad Bird
• Additional scenes, including alternate opening
• Mini documentary segments
• Teddy Newton The X Factor
• Duck and Cover sequence
• The Voice of the Giant
• Motion Gallery
• Brad Bird trailer
“The Iron Giant” is one of those closely guarded secrets that really needs more publicity. The film was highly loved when it first came out, but due to some mishandling of marketing it just faded into the background as one of the few WB animated films that made it out to compete with the rising star of “Pixar” and “Dreamworks”. I can’t emphasize it enough that this is one of those Must Buy type of films if you’re a lover of well-crafted animation that holds up on repeated viewings for children and adults alike. Warner outdid themselves with a stellar audio and video presentation and a LOT of good extras for the fans, making this a true collector’s edition (and you can get even more goodies with the big giant box a swag edition too, although at a higher price tag. Must Buy, most definitely.
Starring: Jennifer Aniston, Harry Connick Jr., Vin Diesel
Directed by: Brad Bird
Written by: Brad Bird, Tim McCanlies
Aspect Ratio: 2.40:1 AVC
Audio: English: DTS-HD MA 5.1, French, German, Spanish, Thai, Portuguese, Japanese DD 5.1
Studio: Warner Brothers
Runtime: 87 Minutes (Theatrical) / 90 Minutes (Director's Cut
Own The Iron Giant: Signature Edition on Blu-ray and as the Ultimate Collectors Edition on September 6!
Buy The Iron Giant On Blu-ray at Amazon
Buy The Iron Giant: Ultimate Collector's Edition On Blu-ray at Amazon
Recommendation: Must Buy
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