The Iron Giant

USA 1999

Reviewed by Leslie Felperin


Our synopses give away the plot in full, including surprise twists.

Rockwell, Maine, 1957. An enormous iron man crash-lands on Earth, reassembles itself and sets about consuming the metal it needs to live. Nine-year-old Hogarth Hughes, son of single mother Annie, happens on the giant one night in the woods and saves its life when it tries to eat a power station. Rockwell's strange goings-on bring government agent Kent Mansley to town. Hogarth persuades local beatnik Dean McCoppin to keep the giant at the junk yard Dean owns where it will have enough to eat. Hogarth teaches the giant English and teaches it not to use its destructive powers.

Eventually, the giant is discovered. Convinced it is a weapon, Mansley calls in the military. Seeing that conventional weapons are of no use, Mansley gets the army to launch a nuclear attack on the giant. Hogarth persuades the giant not to fight. It launches itself into the sky, detonating the bomb safely in outer space but seemingly destroying itself in the process. Some time later, Dean has made a statue in the giant's honour and is now part of a family with Annie and Hogarth, who still mourns the giant. But all over the world, pieces of the giant are slowly finding each other...


Not only is The Iron Giant one of the more emotionally satisfying films of the year, but it also affords a cheering opportunity for all those who'd like someone other than Disney to have a cartoon hit. Given its illustrious record with shorts starring Bugs Bunny and crew, it's surprising it's taken Warner Bros this long to make a serious stab at original features.

It was a particularly smart move to hire Simpsons veteran Brad Bird to direct. In collaboration with screenwriter Tim McCanlies, Bird brings with him a very Simpsonian knack for mixing humour with sentiment so that the morality never clots into indigestible preaching. This means the "you can be whatever you want" message Hogarth teaches the Iron Giant emerges as a subtle lesson in free will. Similarly, the Simpsons line in nimble parody emerges with a hilarious pastiche of a 50s safety film 'Duck and Cover' while unforced allusions to 50s atomic-horror films, vintage comics, The X Files and the Beat Generation oxygenate an already bubbly story. Even the clean, stylised animation, although distinctive, conjures up the gestural simplicity of Bird's training ground at its best.

In the film's knack for darkness and emphasis on line, there's a trace memory of Andrew Davidson's woodblock illustrations for Ted Hughes' original story on which this is loosely based. Purists might demur at The Iron Giant's radical departure from its source, the significantly differently titled The Iron Man. Gone is the truly blood-frosting image it conjures of the space-bat-angel-dragon, as big as Australia and bent on licking life from the planet. Perhaps such stuff would be a little too scary for children if given visual form. The giant here is more like E.T. crossed with a Transformer than Hughes' mysterious emanation of the Earth, but this adaptation still incorporates delicious memories from the original - the giant munching thoughtfully through a junkyard of metal, the sense of his awesome scale and his gift for self-assembly (an ability many parents would wish on the presents opened on Christmas morning) - that sweeten the near-tragic, genuinely moving climax. Given the film's enormous box-office success so far, expect the inevitable follow-up, although the film-makers probably won't use Hughes' own harrowing sequel The Iron Woman.


Brad Bird
Allison Abbate
Des McAnuff
Tim McCanlies
Screen Story
Brad Bird
Based on the book
The Iron Man by
Ted Hughes
Camera Supervisor
Mark Dinicola
Darren T. Holmes
Production Designer
Mark Whiting
Music/Music Conductor
Michael Kamen
©Warner Bros
Production Company
Warner Bros presents
a Brad Bird film
Executive Producer
Pete Townshend
Associate Producer
John Walker
Production Associates
Sandro Mario Corsaro
Ralph Garcia
Bryan Kulik
Barry O'Donoghue
Scene Planners
Gina Bradley
George (Bingo) Ferguson
James Keefer
Dan C. Larsen
Karen Hansen
Production Manager
Amy Richards
Department Heads
Jeffrey Lynch
Computer Graphics:
Tad Gielow
William H. Frake III
Dennis Venizelos
Lureline Kohler
Allen Foster
Scene Planning:
Steven Wilzbach
Animation Check 2D/3D:
Myoung Smith
Rhonda L. Hicks
ACME Supervisors
Colour Models:
Tania Mitman Burton
Irene M. Gringeri
Ink & Paint:
Sarah-Jane King
Final Check:
Dennis Bonnell
Final Scene Planning:
Kim Patterson
Post-production Supervisor
Jeannine Berger
ACME Digital Specialists
Will Bilton
James Hathcock
Freddie Vaziri
Animatic Production Specialists
Andrew Jimenez
Dale A. Smith
Marci Liroff
Shaunda Grace Jones
Artistic Casting/ Development
Tom Knott
Marci Gray
Dave Master
Chris Chavez
Katherine Concepcion
Storyboard Artists
Dean Wellins
Mark Andrews
Kevin O'Brien
Viki Anderson
Steven Markowski
Piet Kroon
Fergal Reilly
Additional Story
Teddy Newton
Stephen G. Lumley
Harry A. Sabin Jr
Ron Hughart
Brian Kindregan
Colour Stylists
Constance R. Allen
Anthony C. Cianciolo Jr
Sylvia Marika Filcak
Tanya Moreau-Smith
Catherine P. O'Leary
Devon P. Oddone
Cathy Wainess-Walters
Colour Modellists
Olga Tarin Duff
Dawn Knight
Helga Beatrix Vanden Berge
Camera Operator
Christine Beck
Steve Y. Chen
Lem Davis
Emmanuel C. Francisco
Bill Perkins
Arjun Ramamurthy
David F. Wolf
George Aluzzi
Cathy E. Blanco
Keith Kobata
Jose F. Lopez
Darryl McIntosh
Brian Peterson
Leonard J. Reder
Alan L. Stephenson
Aaron L. Thompson
Arnold M. Yee
Cheng-Jui Yu
Zizi Zhao
Lori A. Arntzen
Kevin D. Howard
Rusty Howes
Hector A. Martinez
Alexis Pierre
Usha Ramcharitar
Paul Skidmore
Gene Takahashi
CGI Animation
Richard Baneham
Grace Blanco
Brad Booker
Andrew D. Brownlow
Yarrow Cheney
Minhee Choe
Stéphane Cros
Adam Dotson
Bruce Edwards
Mark R.R. Farquhar
Ron Hughart
Yair Kantor
Les Major
Mike Murphy
Susan L. Oslin
Glenn Storm
Vincent Truitner
Technical Directors
Brett Achorn
Daniel Bunn
Steven Burch
Kolja Erman
Babak Forutanpour
Brian Gardner
Corey Hels
Roger Huynh
Hiroki Itokazu
Darren D. Kiner
Andy King
Michael Leung
Sébastien Linage
Mike Meckler
Lyle S. Nojima
Brian Schindler
Teddy T. Yang
Head of Animation
Tony Fucile
Supervising Animators
Richard Bazley
Bob Davies
Stephan Franck
Tony Fucile
Gregory S.E. Manwaring
Steven Markowski
Mike Nguyen
Wendy Perdue
Christopher Sauvé
Dean Wellins
Richard Baneham
Adam Burke
Jennifer Cardon
Mike Chavez
Ricardo Curtis
Ruth Daly
Marcelo Fernandes de Moura
Jeff Etter
Lauren Faust
Ralph Fernan
Steve Garcia
Lennie K. Graves
Russell Hall
Adam Henry
Ken Hettig
Kevin Johnson
Ben Jones
Ernest Keen
Jae H. Kim
Holger Leihe
Lane Lueras
Craig R. Maras
Roy Meurin
Randy Myers
Melina Sydney Padua
Scott T. Petersen
Andrew Schmidt
Sean Springer
Mike Swofford
Derek Thompson
Craig Valde
Jim Van Der Keyl
Roger Vizard
Alex Williams
Mark A. Williams
John D. Williamson
Additional Animation
Joanne Coughlin
Devin Crane
Jean Cullen De Moura
Phil Langone
Brian Larsen
Boowon Lee
Helen Hee Seung Lee
Michael Mullen
Shane Prigmore
Eddie Rosas
Andy Schuhler
Michael Shannon
Kyung S. Shin
Peter Sohn
Stephen Steinbach
Michael Venturini
Visual Development/ Character Design
Tony Fucile
Ray Aragon
Victor J. Haboush
Lou Romano
Laura L. Corsiglia
Dominique R. Louis
Teddy Newton
Clean-up Leads
Eric J. Abjornson
Nathalie Gavet
Karenia Kaminski
Marty Korth
June Myung Nam
Don Parmele
Doris A. Plough
Robert Tyler
Clean-up Keys
Paul Bauman
Andrew Beall
James Burks
Yelena Geodakyan
Wantana Martinelli
Domingo C. Rivera Jr
Karen Rosenfield
Kyung S. Shin
Calvin Suggs
Hamish MacKinnon
Michael Venturini
Tran Vu
Effects Animators
John Bermudes
Jesse M. Cosio
John Dillon
Rick Echevarria
Marc Ellis
Michel Gagné
Earl A. Hibbert
Brett Hisey
John MacFarlane
Kevin M. O'Neil
Volker Pajatsch
David Pritchard
Gary Sole
Ryan Woodward
Digital Effects Artists
Miae Kim Ausbrooks
Rick Echevarria
Kevin Oakley
Ryan Woodward
Andrew Jimenez
Animation Checkers
Susan Burke
Daryl Carstensen
Charlotte Clark-Pitts
Katie Gray
Gillian Higgins
Louie C. Jhocson
Pam Kleyman
Madel Flancia Manhit
Penelope G. Sevier
Carol Li-Chuan Yao
Nick Yates
Workbook Designers
Mark Andrews
Stephen G. Lumley
Layout Artists
James P. Alles
Teresa Coffey-Wellins
Frederick J. Gardner III
Louis Gonzales
Karen Hamrock
Workbook Designers
Conor Kavanagh
Francis Lang
Emil Mitev
Felipe Morell
Ronald M. Roesch
Lisa Souza
Audrey Stedman
Bill Thyen
Michael Tracy
Craig Voigt
Jennifer Yuan
Lead Bluesketch Artist
Mercedes J. Sichon
Bluesketch Artist
Irina Goosby
Background Artists
Christopher Brock
Ruben Chavez
William Dely
Dennis Durrell
James Finn
Greg Gibbons
Annie Guenther
Joel Parod
Craig Robertson
Jonathan Salt
Nadia Vurbenova
Wei M. Zhao
Digital Background Artist
Craig Kelly
Iron Giant Designers
Joe Johnston
Mark Whiting
Hiroki Itokazu
Teddy T. Yang
Steven Markowski
Michael Bay
Artistic Co-ordinator
Scott F. Johnston
Art Director
Alan Bodner
Character Sculptor
Carla Larissa Fallberg
Music Performed by
The Czech Philharmonic Orchestra
Electronic Music Score Programmers
James Brett
Michael Price
Michael Kamen
Robert Elhai
Blake Neely
Music Score Producers
Michael Kamen
Christopher Brooks
Music Editor
Christopher Brooks
Music Score Recorder/Mixer
Steve McLaughlin
Music Consultants
James Austin
John 'Juke' Logan
"Honeycomb" by Bob Merrill, performed by Jimmie Rodgers; "I Got a Rocket in My Pocket" by Jimmy Logsdon, Vic McAlpin, performed by Jimmy Lloyd; "Comin' Home Baby" by Bob Dorough, Ben Tucker, performed by Mel Tormé; "Duck and Cover" by Teddy Newton, arranged by Preston Oliver, performed by Brad Bird, Shannon Gregory, Dean Wellins; "Blue Rumba" by Bobby Black, performed by Pepe Dominguin; "Genius after Hours" by/performed by Ray Charles; "Capitolizing" by/performed by Babs Gonzalez; "Cha-Hua-Hua" by Adam Ross, Joe Lubin, performed by Eddie Platt; "Blues Walk" by/performed by Lou Donaldson; "Let's Do the Cha Cha" by Willie Boyd, Richard Nance, performed by The Magnificents; "Searchin'" by Jerry Leiber, Mike Stoller, performed by The Coasters
Sound Design
Randy Thom
Principal Dialogue
Troy Porter
Doc Kane
Production Sound
Gregory M. Gerlich
Re-recording Mixers
Gregory H. Watkins
Kevin E. Carpenter
Digital Playback Operations
Chad Algarin
Mark LaPointe
Supervising Sound Editor
Dennis Leonard
Supervising Dialogue Editor
Curt Schulkey
Sound Effects Editor
Beau Borders
Troy Porter
Doc Kane
Dennie Thorpe
Jana Vance
Frank 'Pepe' Merel
Tony Eckert
Mary Helen Leasman
Ted Hughes
Voice Cast
Jennifer Aniston
Annie Hughes
Harry Connick Jr
Dean McCoppin
Vin Diesel
The Iron Giant
James Gammon
Foreman Marv Loach/Floyd Turbeaux
Cloris Leachman
Mrs Tensedge
Christopher McDonald
Kent Mansley
John Mahoney
General Rogard
Eli Marienthal
Hogarth Hughes
M. Emmet Walsh
Earl Stutz
Jack Angel
Robert Bergen
Mary Kay Bergman
Michael Bird
Devon Borisoff
Rodger Bumpass
Robert Clotworthy
Jennifer Darling
Zack Eginton
Paul Eiding
Bill Farmer
Charles Howerton
Ollie Johnston
Sherry Lynn
Mickie T. McGowan
Ryan O'Donohue
Phil Proctor
Frank Thomas
Patti Tippo
Brian Tochi
additional voices
Warner Bros Distributors (UK)
7,785 feet
86 minutes 31 seconds
Dolby stereo digital SR/DTS/SDDS
Colour/Prints by
Last Updated: 20 Dec 2011