Making the Grades
When the rooftop TV antenna is mysteriously broken, Little Hogarth Hughes (Eli Marienthal) sets out with his loaded bb-gun to find the culprit. But no matter what his imagination may have suggested, the responsible party is a big surprise.
Hogarth catches up with the Iron Giant (voiced by Vin Diesel) just as the space alien begins a dinner of electrical towers and gets the shock of his life. Ignoring everything ever taught about safety, Hogarth weaves his way through the fallen cables, flips the power switch to off, and saves the robot. This act of mercy sparks a friendship between the lonely characters and makes Hogarth determined to protect the creature (that's taller than the house). With a voracious appetite for anything metal, Hogarth finds the perfect hideout and buffet--the local junkyard. But while the giant is steeling some nuts and bolts, the federal coppers become alerted to his presence, and fearing the worst, begin keeping an i-ron him.
This giant does hold some unforeseen surprises. The sight of a gun triggers a pre-programmed response from the beast, and we discover an arsenal of weapons hidden under his shell. The reflexive action has him convinced he will never be anything more than a walking gun, but Hogarth wisely tells him, "You are what you choose to be."
If this were a live action film, the inclusion of unnecessary mild profanities (including terms of deity), some slight scatological humor, and a melodramatic bad guy who threatens Hogarth's mother (voiced by Jennifer Aniston), may slip by unnoticed. But we still mistakenly consider most animations to be suitable for all audiences, in which case the monster may not be the only thing misjudged.
However, this tin man does have a heart, and that's what makes this simply animated, yet compelling movie worthwhile. Parents may want to preview the film prior to showing it to youngest family members so this movie won't hold more surprises than the one Hogarth found.
Discussion Ideas After The Movie
Teaching ideas and topics to discuss about The Iron Giant.
This story is set in the cold war era and includes references to the duck and cover drills that may be unfamiliar to children. How did inaccurate information about nuclear missiles leave citizens in a vulnerable situation? Does a lack of correct information about the nature of the Giant make the characters in this movie vulnerable?
Iron Giant didn’t want to fight, yet when provoked he found it difficult to control his violent response. What can we learn to avoid conflict and control our responses toward others?