The Iron Giant Brad Bird

The Iron Giant Brad Bird
The attention being received by The Incredibles is being credited more to the innovative animation company Pixar than to the auteur behind its vision: Brad Bird. Bird, the first "outside" director ever to be handed the reigns of a Pixar film, built his rep on the beautiful 1999 film The Iron Giant, and to capitalise on the success of The Incredibles, Iron Giant is receiving a new "special edition" reissue. The Iron Giant, drawn in traditional 2D animation and featuring voices by Jennifer Aniston, Harry Connick, Jr. and Vin Diesel (as the giant), is a throwback in many ways. Not simply for its animation technique, but in its spirit: set in the 1950s, it mirrors the era's B-movie invasion genre as well as tipping its hat to sci-fi classics like The Day The Earth Stood Still. It concerns young Hogarth Hughes, a boy who discovers the metal-eating giant in the woods and tries to protect his secret from his single mom and from the agents of the FBI, who would use the giant for their own ends. That The Iron Giant plays with a variety of well-worn themes — the misunderstood giant's desire to choose his own destiny, the separation between youth and adulthood — is not to be faulted but instead lauded for its ability to breathe wondrous life into them. That the animation is spectacular and the vision breathtaking would be meaningless if the story didn't hit home, and Bird's certainly does here. In terms of fans who already bought the earlier DVD issue, the feature commentary is only as interesting as group-style commentaries of underrated films ever are (lots of back-patting), but eight "deleted" scenes, shown mostly with voices over animatics instead of final animation, reveal some fascinating asides that were trimmed for pace and length. Like any good deleted scenes, they are like looking at early draft could've beens that illuminate the process but you wouldn't lament their absence. Plus: featurettes on score, animatics and design, and the voice of the giant. (Warner)