Here's what I wrote for the law school paper this week on the Incredibles and the Iron Giant. The main idea here is: The Incredibles will undoubtedly be awesome because Brad Bird is making it, and he made the Iron Giant, and the Iron Giant is best. If you want to read that idea over and over again, please, have at these 900 or so words.
The Incredibles and the Iron Giant
You really don’t need much more of a reason to see “The Incredibles” (opening this Friday) other than that it’s a Pixar film. By now, we’ve all pretty much caught on that Pixar = Definitely Going to Be Great. “The Incredibles” distinguishes itself from the other Pixar films (The Toy Stories, A Bug’s Life, Monsters Inc., and Finding Nemo) in that it’s the first Pixar movie to star people . . . well, computer animated people, but people none the less. Add on top of this that these people are superheroes and, hey, it’s bound to be good right? (Law School Bonus: The film begins with all the superheroes being forced out of business because of all the litigation they’re getting dragged into because of the destruction that comes hand-in-hand with superheroing). Aside from the premise of the film and the production company involved, I can think of two extremely good reasons to see this movie as soon as possible.
First off, the trailer for the next Star Wars movie (Episode III: Revenge of the Sith) is going to be premiering with the film and, for those of us who’s faith in Star Wars wasn’t mortally wounded by “The Phantom Menace” and “Attack of the Clones”, this is something to be very excited for, an added bonus to the awesomeness that the Incredibles promises.
The other (and far better) reason to see the Incredibles? It was written and directed by Brad Bird. Well, one could say “Brad Bird is a writer and director of animated features who hasn’t had a movie come out for five years” or one could say “Brad Bird wrote and directed “The Iron Giant”” Now, from what I’ve experienced, mentioning the Iron Giant provokes one of two responses, either an “The Iron Giant, what’s that?” or “The Iron Giant?! That was a great movie!” If your response to mentioning the Iron Giant would fall with the latter, then you have no more to read--the man behind the Iron Giant is the man behind the Incredibles, now get to a theater. If your response would be included with the former category, please, continue reading if you like to read about great movies.
Released by Warner Brothers Animation in 1999 with next to no marketing to support it, the Iron Giant is easily the best animated film about a boy and his giant robot and arguably the best animated movie ever made. I know that’s quite the claim to make, but I don’t make it lightly. While I would just suggest (insist, in fact) that you just rent the movie to see how great it is, that’s not good journalism, so let me try to explain.
The Iron Giant is set in Maine during the duck and cover days of 1957 when all of America, particularly the coastal town where the movie takes place, is worried about Sputnik, the Russians, and the Bomb. The film’s main character, Hogarth Hughes, is the lonesome and awkward son of Annie Hughes (voiced by Jennifer Aniston, really), a Korean-War widow who works at the local diner. Hogarth’s the sort of kid who just can’t make friends at school whose Mom won’t let him get a pet, so he turns to science fiction movies and comic books for the friendship and entertainment he’s missing in real life. One night, while home alone, Hogarth discovers that his house’s antenna has been eaten . . . further investigation into what happened to the antenna leads Hogarth to discover, well, a gigantic robot (that would be the titular “Iron Giant”, voiced by Vin Diesel, really) living in the woods near his home.
The ensuing story involves Hogarth befriending the giant robot, trying to figure out where he came from, and engaging in E.T.-ish antics to hide the Iron Giant from his mother and from Kent Mansley, a G-man who has come to Hogarth’s town to investigate reported giant robot sightings (what, you expect a giant robot to show up in the town and Hogarth’s going to be the only person who notices?) Lessons are learned, thrills are had, laughter occurs, etc. etc.
While my plot synopsis might not win everyone over, you’re sure to find that watching the Iron Giant is no struggle. Like all great films (animated or live action) the Iron Giant has a soul which slowly wins you over as the characters become more and more real and their story more and more captivating. The film’s final act is thrilling, heart-stopping, and thoroughly unforgettable and I simply cannot recommend a movie more than I recommend the Iron Giant. It’s a shame that Warner Brothers never gave this movie much of a chance when it was released, it’s easy to imagine this film eventually earning the universal praise and recognition it deserves.
In light of how magnificently well Mr. Bird handled a film about a giant robot, I can’t wait to see what he manages to do with a movie about a family of superheroes. While I can’t imagine the Incredibles possessing the same amount of pathos as the Iron Giant (I’m being serious here), I’d loved to be proven wrong—this week there isn’t a movie I couldn’t be looking forward to more than the Incredibles, and there isn’t a movie I could recommend renting more than I recommend the Iron Giant.
What I didn't know when I was writing that article is that the Iron Giant Special Edition DVD is finally coming out on November 16! 8 Deleted Scenes? Oh man, that's cool.
And here's another reason that the Incredibles will be great: Sarah Vowell is voicing one of the characters, very interesting.
The Onion AV Club has a great interview with Brad Bird this week. You really ought to be read it. His consultant job on the Simpsons and everything sounds like about the greatest job there is in the universe.
Oh geeze I totally almost forgot. Like about a month and a half ago a very genius inside source at Warner Brothers sent me an original Iron Giant theatrical poster. It was pretty much the "Viva Tacos!" of September 2004. It's the same as the image up top and patiently awaits a proper framing--it deserves nothing else.