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Video: The Iron Giant trailer (1999)

Excerpt from a review of Iron Giant (1999) by Roger Ebert, August 6, 1999,  for

Like the new Japanese animated films, "The Iron Giant" is happy to be a "real movie" in everything but live action. There are no cute little animals and not a single musical number: It's a story, plain and simple. The director, Brad Bird, is a "Simpsons" veteran whose visual look here, much more complex than "The Simpsons," resembles the "clear line" technique of Japan's Hayao Miyazaki ("My Neighbor Totoro"). It works as a lot of animation does, to make you forget from time to time that these are moving drawings, because the story and characters are so compelling.

As for the Iron Giant himself, he's surprisingly likable. He can't speak English at first, but is a quick study, and like E.T. combines great knowledge with the naivete of a stranger in a puzzling land. His voice is by Vin Diesel and sounds like it has been electronically lowered. He looks unsophisticated--something like a big Erector Set construction with a steam-shovel mouth--but as we get to know him he turns into a personality before our very eyes--a big lunk we feel kind of sorry for. By the big climax (which, also like "E.T.," involves a threat from bureaucrats and technocrats), we're hoping Hogarth can help save his friend once again.

It must be tough to get a movie like this made. Disney has the traditional animation market locked up, but other studios seem willing to throw money at Disney musical look-alikes (like "The King and I") even though they might have a better chance moving in the opposite direction--toward real stories told straight. "The Iron Giant," based on a book by the recently deceased British poet laureate Ted Hughes, is not just a cute romp but an involving story that has something to say.

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