Published on November 1st, 2016 | by Chris O'Connor
The Iron Giant Signature Edition Blu-ray Review
Summary: The Incredible Iron Giant returns in a remastered extended edition.
Before he brought Incredible characters to life… Brad Bird had a dream… a dream to bring a story to life using traditional animation. Based on the story “The Iron Man” by Ted Hughes, Brad’s adaptation of the story was set to cause “all the feels” as he brought the Iron Giant to life.
The story (and given this is a remaster I’m assuming I’m not ruining it for people… but otherwise, minor spoilers ahead), is essentially giant space robot falls to earth, boy meets giant space robot, boy befriends giant space robot, boy teaches giant space robot to talk, government wants to destroy giant space robot, giant space robot saves boy. But it’s the humanity given to the robot as the story unfurls that really helps to sell the story.
Set in the 1957 the background for the story is the Cold War and as such the military is on high alert… expecting a nuclear attack at any moment… naturally when this is the state of affairs, the story of a giant metal man walking around a small country town causes concern. But this very adult concern is well played against the innocence of youth via Hogarth… the boy who would befriend the giant being. It could be argued that the film also tries to point out how the best defense isn’t a good offense but rather simply an open mind an ability to examine a situation before turning to a terminal solution.
The film looks beautiful… the restoration efforts have clearly worked wonders for it. The audio is also impeccable… which is lovely because the two combined really do display that distinct Disney influence (which is why it’s a little funny that this is released as a Warner Brothers film). The use of multi-plane shooting to give that lovely sense of depth… the orchestration that almost tells as much of the story as the imagery. It’s not hard to see how Brad Bird caught people’s attention with this directorial debut.
The disc is fleshed out rather nicely with a fairly extensive bunch of extra features. There’s a lovely feature that is Brad Bird explaining his introduction to animation and even the moment it all “snapped” into place and he knew that it was his destiny. Some of the extra features appeared to me as though their aspect ratio was incorrect… I don’t know if that is the case but there are a number of extra features that I suspect were on the original release and perhaps presented in 4:3 format and have now been stretched to 16:9… unfortunately this gives them a very strange warped appearance (unless my eyes were just playing tricks on me?) But the feature I was most surprised with was “The Salt Mines”. It turns out there is a Salt Mine in America that Warner Brothers uses to store a large portion of their film archive (I would imagine being a salt mine the dangers of moisture damage are reduced). It was breathtaking to see the rows upon rows of shelves filled with archival material… then to see some of the original pieces for The Iron Giant brought out of storage after so many years was really stunning.
Overall a great movie that is fun to either re-visit, or explore for the first time. This remastered version is definitely the way to see it too, you can either watch the new version (with some added scenes including an Iron Giant dream sequence) or the original… Brad Bird is happy with either.