(This entry is part of “Monster May,” a look at classic and iconic monster movies all leading up to the United States premiere of Godzilla on May 16. For more on what’s going on this month, check out our original post here.)
The Monster: The extra-terrestrial with a penchant for comics, The Iron Giant.
Average Size: Height, 50 ft; Weight, not specified but probably a couple tons.
Claim to fame: Nostalgia for 90’s kids everywhere, and also “Suuuupermaaaan…..”
Let’s face it, of all the movies we’ve had, the biggest “message” we’ve gotten so far “whoa, big things tearing stuff up is pretty freaking cool.” But what if you could actually put a heart into a giant monster film? Based off of Ted Hughes’ 1968 novel The Iron Man, WB’s 1999 film retitled The Iron Giant attempts to do just that.
Based in 1957 at the height of the Cold War, a fisherman is totally out, having fun fishing and trying to survive a really bad storm and stuff when suddenly he sees something shoot out of the sky and like obliterate his boat. So he’s generally not happy that his boat crashed into something in the middle of the night and a very bad storm, when he notices two eyes looking at him from above. He freaks out and wakes up on shore near a lighthouse.
We then go to Hogarth Hughes (Eli Marienthal) who you know his mom hated from the beginning of his life because I mean come on she named him Hogarth. Like, who even does that?? I’m pretty sure giving a kid a name that bad is considered cruel and unusual punishment!
But moving on, he meets his mom Annie (Jennifer Aniston) at her restaurant and is trying to convince her to let him have a pet squirrel when suddenly Hogarth realizes he escapes. Thankfully he finds the poor squirrel, which never really wanted to be a pet, by realizing it had crawled up the pant leg of the animated equivalent of Jeff Goldblum, in the person of Dean McCoppin (Harry Connick Jr.).
Well like any good mother Annie tells Hogarth that-
Let’s just call him Bob. Bob is a much better name than Hogarth.
So to clarify: from now on, Bob = Hogarth. Just accept it.
Bob = Hogarth.
Hogarth = Bob.
Got it? Good. Let’s move on.
Ahem, well Annie tells Bob that she’s going to be home late, so eat something healthy, don’t watch scary movies, and go to bed on time. So Bob proceeds to eat super unhealthy golden cakes filled with delicious cream, watch a horror film, and is still up at midnight. Makes sense, dude is like 9.
But thanks to it being the Cold War era and not having fancy things like Wifi, Netflix, 3G, or even basic cable, the TV shorts out and Bob goes out to fix it, only to see that it’s been eaten. Yes, eaten. And there’s a trail of like crushed trees and stuff leading into a deep dark scary forest.
Well like any good 9 year old with any shred of self-preservation, Bob goes clad in his dad’s army boots, an aviator cap, and a BB gun and heads out to find this monster. Well turns out it’s a, you guessed it, IRON GIANT (Vin Diesel) [Yay title drop!] who is just munching on some metal like it’s a light midnight snack. Then, the genius robot that works on electricity and should like understand it and stuff puts his hands on a giant transformer and gets tangled in some wires and get’s electrocuted.
Well Bob shuts the power off and at that moment his mom finds him because perfect timing right? Of course, she doesn’t believe anything Bob said to her about a giant metal monster because as we’ve already established she hates him because she gave him the name Hogarth.
Unfortunately, the crazy fisherman that first crashed into the Iron Giant’s crotch had called the Government about it and they, being all worried about the Cold War and nukes and Russians and stuff send out Kent Mansley (Christopher McDonald) to go check it out. Understandably he’s skeptical because the mecha genre hadn’t come out yet, but all his fears are confirmed when the monster eats his car.
However, poor Bob can’t get what he saw out of his head, so he goes into the woods and find the Iron Giant. At that point he realizes the importance of turning off the lights because if it wasn’t for that the robot and he wouldn’t have some weird connection thing.
However now-paranoid Mansley suspects Bob of knowing more than he lets through some doodads that we won’t get into here, the Giant sees a Superman comic and is like “ohh cool Superman!” and then they end up at Dean’s scrap yard where Iron Giant eats a ton of cars. Dean finds Bob though and gives him coffee, which leads to Dean finding out about the Iron Giant.
Bob comes back home to find out that creepy-paranoia guy is living in the spare room now, and he’s super creepy and constantly around and thank goodness it’s the 50’s because if it was modern times he’d be slapped with a “sexual predator” charge before he could even ask his first question. However, the setting is the 50’s, so Bob takes it upon himself to add a laxative to Mansley’s drink. Smart kid.
However, in between his increasingly frequent bathroom breaks, Mansley comes across a picture of Bob and the Iron Giant. At that moment however, Bob and the Iron Giant are witnessing the opening scene of Bambi, which makes Iron Giant realize guns are bad always bad no matter what, and that he wants to vote for the Democratic Party.
Well more things happen, the army gets involved, Iron Giant reacts negatively to guns, and this review is getting long so I’ll just summarize it by saying:
This movie has soul, heart, tears, laughs, and everything else that makes a movie good. That’s literally all I’m going to say about it.
Rating: Print. Go watch it with a big pile of tissues. A BIG pile of tissues.
(The 80’s were a weird time for Monsters. Especially remakes of B-movie material. Like camp? Check out tomorrow’s post to find out more!)