Netflixing: The Iron Giant

in movies •  2 years ago  (edited)

Since I've started Netflixing, I've reviewed one or two properties that were on the brink of being removed from the platform.

Today, I will review a film that has barely been added to Netflix, in the form of The Iron Giant.

Why it has been added to Netflix's lineup out of the blue is anyone's guess, but the movie seems to have attracted a fresh wave of attention recently. For some unfathomable reason.

It's a mystery.

But in any case, it is now streaming. And seeing an opportunity to exploit...


Seeing an opportunity to share the current nostalgic reexamination of the film, I have decided to make it the subject of this week's review.

But if we're going to understand The Iron Giant, we need to first be aware of its director and its history.

Brad Bird and the Disney Renaissance

When Walt Disney died, animated feature films suffered a near-fatal blow.

And while Disney was undeniably one of history's greatest entrepreneurs, the Disney style of leadership was ultimately destructive to his company.

Business writer Jim Collins calls this approach the "Genius with a Thousand Helpers" model of leadership, where a company's success depends upon the brilliance of a single person at the top of the organization, and the unquestioning obedience of everyone beneath him. This model has been responsible for the success of many companies over the years (another example would be Steve Jobs at Apple Computers), but it suffers from one obvious Achilles heel: what do you do when the "genius" leaves the company?

If the company is anything like Disney, then the answer is "wander the wilderness for forty years". The company continued to make animated features after Walt's death, but it would be decades before those films would start busting blocks again. And this dearth extended not only to Disney-produced films but to animated features across the board. Studios weren't willing to give large budgets to what were seen as profitless ventures.

So when the Disney renaissance began in 1989, and the company's movies started making bank again, a large number of non-Disney studios started producing animation again.

But too many of these simply tried to copy what Disney was doing. Which was foolish, because nobody can beat Disney at making Disney movies.

Are you proud of yourselves?

So Brad Bird had to try extra hard to convince Warner Bros. that the correct approach was to make a departure from the Disney formula. He stepped away from the schmaltzy, showtuney, grandiose themes and motifs of the Disney renaissance to make something a little more Spielbergian.

The result was The Iron Giant---a film defined, and hampered, by the idea of what it was trying not to be.

The Plot

It's E.T., except the alien is a robot.

I'm exaggerating, of course, but not by much.

The story is an almost beat-for-beat retelling of Spielberg's most beloved film. We get the same misunderstood youngster who needs a friend, the same ordeal of trying to conceal the creature's existence from the child's mother, the same evil government people who cause problems for everyone, and even the same revelation, at the tail end of the movie, that the alien creature can fly, and who then flies off with the misunderstood youngster.

The biggest plot difference comes from largely unimportant details between the two creatures. E.T. was a diminutive goblin with the power to restore life to wilted flowers. The Iron Giant is a 100-foot-tall robot who can laser entire cities to the ground. You would think that this difference in their powers would result in wildly different plotting, yet that doesn't quite materialize here.

You could argue that The Iron Giant plays up the Cold War backdrop of the story, but E.T. also takes place during the Cold War and is inevitably influenced by the paranoia of the time, even if it plays that card with more subtlety.

But if we ignore the similarities of plot, and focus only on the quality of these two movies, then they could not be more different.

The Problem of Mediocrity

Brad Bird is a fantastic director.

This is the man who gave us The Incredibles and Ratatouille (ironically both properties owned by Disney). His films often possess a moderns sensibility while reveling in fantasy. He is a hitmaker, both in years past and the present day.

But The Iron Giant is a mediocre movie.

I'm pretty sure I first watched it on Cartoon Network, or perhaps on VHS. I certainly never saw it in the theater, and I was not alone. The film performed poorly with critics and audiences alike.

And I remember, at the time, thinking of it much like how I thought of Quest for Camelot, Fern Gully, and a host of other animated features from the 90s---just another cash grab by people who didn't know how to tell a story. That anyone now speaks of this movie with nostalgic reverence leaves me scratching my head. It certainly seems undeserving of cult-classic status.

Honestly, its problems are just too glaring to overlook. If I might list a few:

  • The voice acting is forced and unconvincing.
  • The villain is a shallow stereotype given no development.
  • The characters don't invite us into their lives or give us more than superficial reasons to care about them.
  • The pacing is not cohesive. The story is more a sequence of events than a flowing narrative.
  • A number of scenes feel oddly clipped, as if something longer was originally planned.
  • Emotional moments are unearned and undeserved. I almost laughed out loud when, near the end, the kid tells the robot "I love you," like it was supposed to be some culminating event in the story, when it was unsupported by anything that came before.
  • A completely unnecessary character in the form of Dean, who adds nothing to the story and could be edited out even now without damaging the film (I'm tempted to try this). Yet he has a startling amount of screen time.
And it's just not that good of a movie. We've seen the whole "forbidden pet" story played out so much better in so many other places. If you hold The Iron Giant up against E.T. or How to Train Your Dragon, the many cracks in the film are easy to see.

One Shining Exception

The one good thing I can say about this film is that the animation is beautiful.

It's important to point that out, particularly now, due to the loss (and it is a loss, in the tragic sense) of hand drawn animation in the cinematic landscape (at least in the USA). Yes, we encountered a lot of second-rate animated films in the 1990s. No, we should not abandon the art form simply because it can be abused this way.

I believe most of the nostalgic pining for this film comes from the beauty of the artwork and animation. The visual aspects, at least, were a labor of love, and indicative of the quality we would continue to get from Brad Bird as he moved on to bigger and better projects.

My Judgment

The Iron Giant is a missable movie.

It saddens me to say that, but it's true. For all the chances this movie took, trying to be its own thing instead of copying other animated movies of its time, it did not do enough to distinguish itself as a great film.

I want to believe that if Brad Bird had been given free reign with this project, it would have been on the same level as The Incredibles. There was certainly a lot of potential in the bones of the plot, but the execution left much to be desired.

If you don't catch it on Netflix, you're not missing much. And with the wealth of other animated projects to be found here, it's hard for me to recommend it to anyone.

But if you're curious, after watching Ready Player One, to see what all the fuss is about, then I guess you can give it a whirl. Though I doubt you'll watch it more than once.

Previous entries in the Netflixing series:

Past Years

TV Shows

  • A Series of Unfortunate Events, Season 2
  • Kakegurui
  • Planet Earth II
  • Fullmetal Alchemist
  • Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D., Season 2
  • Revolting Rhymes
  • Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D., Season 1
  • The Polka King
  • Little Witch Academia
  • Movies

  • Jaws
  • Phantom Boy
  • The Boss Baby
  • Captain Underpants: The First Epic Movie
  • Strictly Ballroom
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    I heard about this movie but never tried to watch it! After this review, I think I will give a try! Great work my friend!


    Which was foolish, because nobody can beat Disney at making Disney movies.

    That’s true! My favorite animated movie is Ratatouille. I like your honesty. I would say, you almost feel sorry for this movie to disappoint you. Even though you love the animation, overall it’s just another average animated movie.
    Great review though!

    the best & most professional review. impressive writing & very informative @talanhorne

    reteemed & upvoted

    images (13).jpg

    This is great post. very interesting Netflixing movie and good I think.
    have a great day

    This review is driving to watch this movie now and I must.

    Thank you so much for this review and its a very detailed one and very nicely done.

    @talanhorne - Sir you made a nice review of this old movie... Thank you Sir... Your reviews always helps me to find good movies to watch...


    I completely agree with you, for possession of the right of an excellent film, the Iron Giant is not enough due to copying, but the idea of the plot as a whole can become good. Thank you @talanhorne

    Congratulations @talanhorne
    Now you are in the MinnowsPower Loyalty Member List...!!!

    Exceptional movie review. A good writing...!!!

    100% Upvoted by @MinnowsPower

    Hello @talanhorne,

    Extraordinary good movie review from you again. Incredible writing & well described.


    It's a beautiful story that by the way I saw it recently on television


    For all the chances this movie took, trying to be its own thing instead of copying other animated movies of its time, it did not do enough to distinguish itself as a great film.

    Yep..I agree above your thoughts. I've never watch The Iron Giant. But after completed your review I guess idea It's not interesting to mine. However, I catch great reading one.

    Amazing series love your version about netflix,have a great day sir.

    Yes. İt is wonderful. You are awesome @talanhorne unnamed (1).png

    Your analysis made me want to see this movie so i'm gonna try it. Regards

    I am very glad to see your Netflix movie review... and I think this movie is amazing.... and I like animated movie... thanks for sharing your review..

    This article is professional & Excellent writing . so great experience.
    Thanks @talanhorne
    100% like and resteem

    Good post @talanhorne..
    I like you

    Great post sir. Resteem

    i will look for relax rather watching this hahah thanks for your review one this :D

    This article is proficient and Excellent composition . extraordinary experience. Much appreciated @talanhorne
    Resteem done

    Well there are tons of good movies that did have that much success despite being so great and direction !

    while will keep it in my watchlist my the way !

    Yes sir,we need to first be aware of its director and its history.I love netflix and i waiting for your next post

    wow,great post,my dear friend @talanhorne, good job,success continues, very interesting Netflixing movie,thank you for share,

    Netflexing movie always best and story also awesome.
    #resteem and #upvote
    Another beautiful post @talanhorne

    Yeah your thinking is possible i am thinking how you can add that types of article
    That cleared you are full minded man
    And you are intelligent ..your posts are helpful for us..
    Your every post is nice and good...

    Could you believe that I hadn't watched it yet? I know, my bad, I'll do it as soon as I can.

    My favorite Kids movie? A rough question. I think that it could be Wreck-It Ralph!

    Greetings and thanks for your review!

    The Iron Giant - You made outstanding movie review. Brilliant effort & it works well~

    Wow! Looks very intriguing! Have to watch it soon. Thank you very much @talanhorne!☺

    You are a good person to write.your ideas and writing have been fulfilled.
    This is great article and good advice.
    (((((( Resteem service)))))

    one of the great story you write my dear .

    It's a another movie review of Netflix series. Your introduction awesome and I've some doubt about story tale. Netflix created better movies. But this is 50/50 to me. Thanks @talanhorne.

    It's perfect analyzing story description @talanhorne. You wrote it awesomely. I like to watch these movie. Thanks it sharing.

    I loved this movie as a child!

    Wow, I’m trying to remember it now and having trouble. Will have to go find it online or buy somewhere. Need to repair the memories!

    Hi dear @talanhorne
    How are you?..
    Dear i am new your blog and new..
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    Amazing post &Excellent writing. @talanhorne thank you.
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    Dear Do not appreciate your pictures and writing, you have posted, you like it too much, I'm very happy to see your post ...and very nice movie..i like this post..thanks for share..

    Very beautiful. life post this post to you for thank you very much, and this post a lot like and like post vote and comments and post share, I like this post a total of all see and this post to everyone can vote

    I loved this movie.

    Yes, the villain was simple, but it was a reference to all the 1950s movies where the army blew things up.

    The whole movie is an homage to 1950s UFO movies.

    The main focus of the movie was the relationship between Hogarth and the robot.

    Brad Bird's The Iron Giant has one of the most beautiful animations on screen along side a family movie that gives us a human understanding of complexity of emotions that matters the most.

    great post,very good writing,nice movie, my dear friend @talanhorne,i'm new your to blog,i really really love this post all time, thanks for share,
    #upvote and #resteem,

    Hi dear @talanhorne..
    How are you?..dear i am new your blog and new...dear This is a amazing writing..and your well post..i like this post..thanks for sharing with us this i just @resteem and #upvote..done

    Wow nice movies and great post.thanks for sharing
    Thank you @talanhorne
    Upvote Resteem

    Useful and effective tips and good writing, thanks.@talanhorne
    Upvote Resteem

    Thanks for the post. Seems like majority of the films this time have robots in them. Coincidence? 🤔

    I have some interesting to see The Iron Giant. It's awesome movie to me.

    Very interesting review of iron giant movie, thanks for your sharing usefull and valuable post, i have upvote and resteem your post, success always for you brother @talanhorne

    nice post upvote and resteemed...

    I agree with you @talanhorne
    Very good post.

    I had the sudden idea to blend Blade Runner and The Iron Giant earlier today and this is what I came up with. I would totally go see this movie.

    I had nit watch this movie but i will soon watch ir thanks for sharing

    It is ideal breaking down story depiction @talanhorne. You composed it magnificently. Much obliged it sharing.

    in 2016 17,,,i shaw all of netflix movie,its really great review sir

    images (24).jpg

    Really outstanding post. I like this post.

    Follow upvote and resteem

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    Wowowo..amazing movie...and great writing..i really love your post all time..thank you so very very much for share this post .. dear @talanhorne i just #resteem and @upvote..done...

    this is a very amazing movie, thank

    oh sir its great post
    for all time netflix movie is best
    i love the movie Ratatouille,,its great job sir

    wow,,its really great review sir,,,thanks for posting movie of netflix,,,i love netflix movie

    a great movie..some really great..i want to watch it.success is always for you @ talanhorne

    good job friends success continues

    wow great post nice writting....
    images (44).jpg

    Great job my friend @talanhorne, deep and complete analysis and review of iron giant movie, i love animation movie, thank you

    wow.......what a great article of this movie...........i mostly like the villain character...thanks for your share.....i will see this movie,,,,,,,hope for the best.......

    Very nice and attractive movie, thank you very much for your share to us Mr @talanhorne, wish you more succes

    wow this is big giant

    Love your netflix edition so much sir,upvoted and resteemed,have a great day sir.

    what is the fun of watching a movie which we dont wish to watch again and again
    as you said if you dont catch it you are not missing much,so betterto watch something more interesting

      ·  2 years ago (edited)

    I love the way you are reviewing movies. At least it was worth your review. I did find interesting you review of Disney and Brad Bird. These were and are great individuals.
    “Ready Player One” was one of the best movies.

    Awesome blog post sir,the best of the best,love your articles so much.

    The Iron Giant is amazing series,keep your eyes wide open for these guys,great post sir,keep rocking.

    Good writing you just shared.Writing is very hard.....///....////////

    Horror story of iron giant !!*

    Another excellent movie review. A professional writing too

    Honesty I love your story. thank you for shearing with us. I like your animation. great post sir.

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    Thank you for your nice information sir.

    This is my favorite animated movie. I love it. Its really great. Thank you for sharing @talanhorne. Upvote and Resteem done sir.