In 1957, the icy chill of a Cold War gripped America. People feared invaders from across the sea—and across the galaxy. In The Iron Giant, the coastal community of Rockwell, Maine, epitomizes that era of picturesque paranoia. The sleepy little town is awakenend by a 50-foot metal-munching behemoth that crash-lands and befriends a 9-year-old boy.
After deliberately disobeying his mother, young Hogarth Hughes wanders into the woods in search of aliens, stumbles across the Iron Giant and rescues it from an electrifying fate. They bond. The rest of the story mirrors E.T. as the Giant—with childlike innocence—learns about his new home. Meanwhile, Hogarth must keep his riveted pal under wraps and away from prying government eyes.
Warner Bros.’ feature animation team created this stylish film. Unfortunately, edgy WB sensibilities (some violence, subtle bathroom humor and nearly a dozen mild profanities) mar what could have been a delightful movie for all ages.
On the positive side, Hogarth prays at mealtime and, while a little confused, tells the Giant about death and the eternal nature of the soul. Using guns to kill is bad. Supreme sacrifice is good. And characters are twice reminded that they are who they choose to be.
Iron Giant isn’t appropriate for young children. Still, older viewers should be able to navigate its marginally inappropriate content. If only they didn’t have to. A little rusty.