You’re not gonna believe this, but it was a giant… metal… man.
I love this movie!
It was one of my favorites as a kid and I used to watch it a LOT.
I got it for Christmas one year and was so happy, as it has been one of the best presents I’ve ever received.
It was rereleased in theaters this year to mark it’s 20th anniversary and I bought tickets immediately, taking my two nieces.
As I not only saw it recently in theaters, two weeks ago, but as this is it’s anniversary year, what better time then review it? Is this really a horror film, you might ask? Well yes, as it has aliens and a giant robot, it can definitely be considered a horror film. It also covers my yearly animated film feature review.
So our film is based on a book and is a historical fiction film, being set in 1957. Yes, we have the Cold War, threat of the atomic bomb, fear of aliens invading; all that good stuff.
So the film starts out with a ship trying to find shore in the a huge storm. They can’t find the lighthouse, then they do…BUT it is not a lighthouse! It’s a giant metal man!!!!
Back at the town, where the ship was headed we are introduced to our hero, Hogarth Hughes. His father was an air jet fighter who died during the war, (I’m assuming Korean War as his death seems more recent than WWII). Hogarth lives with his mom on their farmhouse, and she works as a waitress in the local diner. Hogarth is very smart, having been moved up to the 5th grade, but by skipping a grade he doesn’t fit in being bullied a lot.
So he is very lonely.
So Hogarth looks for companionship from animals, animals that his mother does not share a love for.
“Hogarth Hughes: Hey, mom! You won’t believe our good luck. Guess what I found?
Annie Hughes: Hogarth, we’ve been through this before. No pets.
Hogarth Hughes: But he’s not a pet, mom. He’s a friend.
Annie Hughes: Hogarth, we’ve got to rent a room this year if we’re gonna make ends meet, and no one wants to live in a place with shredded upholstery.
Hogarth Hughes: You’ll never know he’s there. I’ll keep him in a cage…
Annie Hughes: …until you feel sorry for him and set him free in the house. You remember the raccoon, Hogarth? [Shudders] Oooooh! I remember the raccoon.
Annie asks to see the squirrel, but it has escaped Hogarth’s makeshift cage. He starts looking for it, when he becomes distracted by Dean McCoppin and the sailor, Earl, who saw the robot earlier.
Let’s stop for a minute and talk about Dean. He is one if the coolest, and hottest, animated men. Junker as his day job, but really an artist, beatnik, and he drives a motorcycle. How much cooler can you get.
Sorry…so Dean and Earl are discussing what he saw.
Earl Stutz: I’m telling the truth, dang it! It came from outer space. I saw it! And it was headed toward land. I called the government in Washington. Maybe it was a sputnik, or… or an invader from Mars. That’s what it is, an invader from Mars! It was a spaceship of some kind. An unidentified flying object…
Man: Unidentified? Knowing you, Earl, I’d say it was either whiskey or beer. [Others join in laughing]
Dean McCoppin: Hey! I saw it too.
Man: I rest my case. [Others join in laughing]
Hogarth Hughes: I believe you. What if it is Sputnik, or a flying saucer from Mars? I bet we could find it.
Dean McCoppin: Sorry, kid. I didn’t really see anything. But if we don’t stick up for the kooks, who will?
While they are talking, Hogarth’s squirrel climbs into Dean’s pants. I wonder if that is where Disney got the idea for Phineas and Ferb?
Anyways, Annie gets in trouble and has to stay late, leaving Hogarth to his own devices. And we all know what that means for a young kid home alone: junk food and scary films.
Hogarth is watching a B Horror film about a scientist and evil brain, when the cable goes out.
Hogarth goes to investigate and sees that someone or something took a huge bite out of the TV antennae.
He gears up, and decides to head out in search for whatever did this. He starts walking around, and ends up near the power plant finding a GIANT ROBOT!!!!!
He sees it stuck in power cables and getting hurt by it, so Hogarth runs over and turns the plant off. Saving him. He then runs home as his mom is calling him. He decides the next day to go out looking for the Giant.
The next day, Hogarth brings some metal and his camera, hoping to capture a picture of the Giant. However, he falls asleep…and when he wakes up…
The two quickly become friends.
Meanwhile, ugh Kent Mansley has arrived in town. He’s the government man brought in to investigate this “metal man”.
Marv Loach: What department is that again?
Kent Mansley: Frankly, I’m not at liberty to divulge the particulars of the agency I work for, and all that that implies.
Marv Loach: You mean, national security?
Kent Mansley: Let me put it this way. Every so often things happen that can’t be rationalized in a conventional way. People wanna know their government has a response. I am that response.
It grows late in the day and Hogarth is unsure what to do with the robot. He decides to head home and come back tomorrow to hang out with the robot, but the robot won’t stop following.
“Hogarth Hughes: Well, goodbye. [Hogarth starts walking away, the Giant follows him] No, no. Me go, you stay. No following. Good. [Hogarth walks, the Giant still follows him] I told you! I’ll come back tomorrow! Now, stay! [Hogarth leaves, the Giant follows him] No, no, no! Bad robot!”
On the way, the Giant gets hungry and starts chewing on a railroad. Hogarth stops him and tells him to fix them. They manage to get everything together, but the Giant gets smacked and destroyed, flung apart. Hogarth is shocked to see him in massive pieces, but then…
He starts putting himself back together.
The race quickly to Hogarth’s barn where he can hide the GIant while he is being pieced together, and Hogarth can go in for dinner. What both don’t realize, is that a piece of the Giant has slipped away.
So yes, there’s that pesky Kent again. In fact he realizes that a broken BB gun he found at the power plant matches part of Hogarth’s name. This gets him very interested in the Hughes family.
Hogarth goes with the Iron Giant and brings him some comic books to read.
Hogarth Hughes: I thought you might like, you know, a bedtime story. I have some really cool ones. Mad Magazine – very funny. The Spirit – very cool. Boy’s Life – eh. Oh, here. This is Superman. He’s a lot like you. Crash-landed on Earth, didn’t know what he was doing… but he only uses his powers for good, never for evil. Remember that.
[Giant looks at a comic with a robot like himself on the cover]
Hogarth Hughes: Oh, that’s Atomo, the metal menace. He’s not a hero, he’s a villain. But you’re not like him. You’re a good guy, like Superman.
The Iron Giant: Super… man.
But the Giant is hungry. They go out looking for food and spot Dean trucking an old car to the junkyard.
As there is no way Dean will sleep through that, Hogarth has to show himself. Dean is fine with that and invites him in for coffee, espresso.
There Hogarth gets jacked up and talks Dean’s ear off, but eventually Dean hears the Giant and goes after it to protect Hogarth. Hogarth calms everyone down, and after a lot of whining, convinces Dean to house the Giant for a bit.
Hogarth goes home, but after all that needling it is time to get up.
So while Dean is trying to corrall the Giant into not eating his sculptures and helping him out, Hogarth has to deal with Kent.
Yes Kent has decided to rent the room Annie is offering, and follow Hogarth around trying to get info out of him.
Eventually Hogarth grows tired of it and does one of the funniest things in the movie.
Even though this is technically illegal, giving some laxatives without their knowledge, as it could kill him if too much is give, I just love how that enables him to get far away from Kent.
So the Giant, Hogarth, and Dean all have a lot of fun. The three are bonding, the Giant and Hogarth being the best of friends.
The Iron Giant: You die?
Hogarth Hughes: Well, yes, someday.
The Iron Giant: I die?
Hogarth Hughes: I don’t know. You’re made of metal, but you have feelings, and you think about things, and that means you have a soul. And souls don’t die.
The Iron Giant: Soul?
Hogarth Hughes: Mom says it’s something inside of all good things, and that it goes on forever and ever. [Hogarth leaves. The Iron Giant lays back to look at the stars]
The Iron Giant: Souls don’t die.
However, this is too good to last as Kent has been searching and found Hogarth’s camera. Even more so, he got a picture of Hogarth and the Giant.
That night when Hogarth comes home, Kent kidnaps him.
Yes! I know!!! What a psycho creep!
He questions Hogarth about the Giant, threatening his mom!
I know! Kent is one of the worst villians. HOw could you do that to a child??? A child!!!
Kent Mansley: Your mom’s working late tonight, Hogarth, so it’s just us guys, and we’re gonna have a little chat. Sit down! [shoves Hogarth onto a chair and shines a bright light on him] How’s that? A little too bright? Good. Forgive me, Hogarth. I wanted you to learn something.
Hogarth Hughes: What can I learn from you?
Kent Mansley: You can learn this, Hogarth. That I can do anything I want, whenever I want if I feel it’s in the people’s best interest. The giant metal man. Where is it?
Hogarth Hughes: I don’t know what you’re talking about.
Kent Mansley: You don’t? Does this ring a bell? [lays down the picture Hogarth took of the aluminum siding he used to lure the Giant] No? How about this? [lays down the photo Hogarth accidentally took of himself – with the Giant behind him]
Kent Mansley: You’ve been careless, Hogarth.
Hogarth Hughes: It doesn’t prove anything.
Kent Mansley: It’s enough to get the army here with one phone call.
Hogarth Hughes: Then what’s stopping you?
Kent Mansley: [angry] Where’s the giant? [Grabs Hogarth by the jaw] You can’t protect him, Hogarth, anymore than you can… protect your mother.
Hogarth Hughes: My mom?
Kent Mansley: It’s difficult to raise a boy all alone. We can make it more difficult. In fact, we can make it so difficult that it would be irresponsible for us to leave you in her care, and all that that implies. You’ll be taken away from her, Hogarth.
Hogarth Hughes: You can’t do that!
Kent Mansley: Oh, we can, and we will.
Hogarth Hughes: He’s at the junkyard. McCoppin’s Scrap off Culver Road.
Kent Mansley: The junkyard, of course! Food for the metal eater. I wouldn’t worry about this, Hogarth. This isn’t really happening. It’s only… a bad dream. [puts a chloroform rag on Hogarth’s mouth, leaving him unconscious]
After this, there is a great scene where Kent is watching Hogarth to make sure he doesn’t let Dean know that the army is coming in. However, Hogarth manages to outsmart him and warn Dean.
So instead of seeing a space giant, they see an art piece.
Kent Mansley is chewed out and taken away with the rest of the army. Everything seems fine and good until Hogarth and the Giant start playing Atomo. When Hogarth points his fake gun at the Giant, it awaken some defense code and he attacks.
Dean McCoppin: Get back! I said get back! I mean it!
The Iron Giant: No. Stop. Wait.
Hogarth Hughes: It was an accident. He’s our friend.
Dean McCoppin: He’s a piece of hardware, Hogarth. Why did you think the army was here? He’s a weapon, a big… big gun that walks.
The Iron Giant: I… I not gun.
Dean McCoppin: Yeah? Then what’s that? [Points at huge hole the Giant’s ray left on a bus]
Dean McCoppin: You almost did that to Hogarth!
The Iron Giant: No! [Runs away]
Hogarth Hughes: Wait! [Runs after the Giant]
Dean realizes it was because of the toy gun, so he goes after Hogarth to help him find the Giant.
Meanwhile, the army sees the Iron Giant and go after him, even though he just saved two boys. Just like Mighty Joe Young, giant dudes just catch a break.
So Hogarth catches up, and the Giant picks him up and flys with him. The army sends missels after him, knocking them both to the ground, and Hogarth out cold. The Giant thinks Hogarth is dead and becomes angry, trying to take out the whole military.
If you look at his weaponry, you’ll notice the trio of weapons is created to resemble the aliens in The War of the Worlds (1953). This make it concrete that it is not from the Soviet Union, North Korea, China, etc; but definitely from outer space.
As no human weapons can stop him, the general agrees to listen to Kent and get the Nautilus ready with the bomb. However, as they are fighting, Hogarth awakens and escapes from his mom and Dean to save the GIant. He reminds the iIant:
Hogarth Hughes: [to the Giant, in battle mode] It’s bad to kill. Guns kill. And you don’t have to be a gun. You are what you choose to be. You choose. Choose.
Everything has calmed down, except for Mansley. He steals the radio, and tells them to launch the missile, something that will kill them all.
General Rogard: That missile is targeted to the giant’s current position! WHERE’S THE GIANT, MANSLEY?
Kent Mansley: Oooh… We can duck and cover! There’s a fallout shelter not far from…
General Rogard: There’s no way to survive this thing, you idiot!
Kent Mansley: You mean we’re all going to…
General Rogard: To die, Mansley. For our country.
Kent Mansley: Screw our country! I WANT TO LIVE!
The Giant stops him though. Everyone is sad at the fact they will explode, but the Giant decides it is time for him to take care of those he loves.
The Iron Giant: [as a nuclear missile is headed for Rockwell] I fix.
Hogarth Hughes: Giant?
The Iron Giant: Hogarth. I go. You stay. [lifts Hogarth’s chin with a finger and waves his other finger at him] No following.
Hogarth Hughes: I love you.
[the Giant takes off to intercept the rocket]
Awwwwww, it is soooooo sad!!!
The town is saved!
Afterwards, Dean and Annie have gotten together; Dean has made a statue in honor of the Giant; and Hogarth is now the most popular boy in town. But while everything is great, Hogarth is still sad. He misses the Giant.
He is given a package from the General, the only piece they have found of the giant, his mouth screw. Hogarth accepts it.
One night, the piece stats beeping, wanting out of the room. That means only one thing, the GIANT IS ALIVE!!! The pieces are coming together to rebuild him. 🙂
Such a truly great film. I don’t know why it isn’t more popular as it is truly amazing.
To start Horrorfest IV from the beginning, go to You Cannot Conquer It. It Has Conquered You!: Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde (1931)
For the previous post, go to What Have You Done to Him?: Rosemary’s Baby (1968)
For more on robots, go to She’s Been Totally Different…Like Stepford: Ted, Buffy the Vampire Slayer (1997)
For more films with aliens, go to The Enemy of My Enemy is My Friend: Alien Vs. Predator (2004)
For more films based on books, go to She Cries in the Night: The Screaming Skull (1958)