The Iron Giant (1999)

Rating: B-

Dir: Brad Bird
Star (voice): Jennifer Aniston, Harry Connick Jr, James Gammon, Vin Diesel

Recent attempts to break Disney’s monopoly on animation have been a mixed bag: some (Antz) are decent enough, while others, such as Anastasia are painfully sub-Mouse. This effort bombed at the American box-office, but is by no means disastrous – its failure may be down to bad promotion, as while the characters and story are childlike, its 50’s setting and subtleties will go well over a younger head. The story takes place as Sputnik is whizzing around overhead, when a kid “acquires” a giant robot which fell from the sky. Needless to say, the military are keenly interested, leading to… something reminiscent of E.T, as he teaches it the meaning of life, and learns a bit himself.

Perhaps a little too firm on the positive values, yet nicely animated, with good voicework, as well as a fine grasp of period atmosphere, and a merciful lack of songs. Against this, it’s apparent from a long way out where the movie is heading, and the style seemed awkward – retro with all the clumsiness and not enough of the flair. Give ’em 20 more years of giant robots, and they’ll be up there with the likes of Bandai and Gainax, Japanese studio who can do this kind of thing in their sleep…