The Iron Giant: Special Edition (1999)

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Released 17-Nov-2004

Cover Art

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Details At A Glance

General Extras
Category Animation Main Menu Audio & Animation
Listing-Cast & Crew
Audio Commentary-Filmmakers
Additional Footage-With Introductions By Brad Bird
Featurette-Teddy Newton - The X Factor
Featurette-Duck And Cover Sequence
Featurette-The Voice Of The Giant
Featurette-Behind The Scenes-Behind The Armor
Gallery-Motion Gallery
Theatrical Trailer-2
DVD-ROM Extras
Easter Egg-Goofy computer animation of the Giant
Easter Egg-A letter to a producer from Ted Hughes
Easter Egg-A funny animatic of Kent Mansley
Easter Egg-Computer animation test with the Giant
Rating Rated PG
Year Of Production 1999
Running Time 83:01 (Case: 82)
RSDL / Flipper RSDL (39:20) Cast & Crew
Start Up Menu
Region Coding 2,4,5 Directed By Brad Bird
Studio
Distributor

Warner Home Video
Starring Jennifer Aniston
Harry Connick, Jr.
Vin Diesel
James Gammon
Cloris Leachman
Christopher McDonald
John Mahoney
Eli Marienthal
M. Emmet Walsh
Mary Kay Bergman
Ollie Johnston
Jack Angel
Michael Bird
Case ?
RPI $24.95 Music Michael Kamen


Video Audio
Pan & Scan/Full Frame None English Dolby Digital 5.1 (384Kb/s)
French Dolby Digital 5.1 (384Kb/s)
Italian Dolby Digital 5.1 (384Kb/s)
Dutch Dolby Digital 5.1 (384Kb/s)
English Audio Commentary Dolby Digital 2.0 (192Kb/s)
Widescreen Aspect Ratio 2.40:1
16x9 Enhancement
16x9 Enhanced
Video Format 576i (PAL)
Original Aspect Ratio 2.35:1 Miscellaneous
Jacket Pictures No
Subtitles English
French
Italian
Dutch
Arabic
English for the Hearing Impaired
Italian for the Hearing Impaired
Smoking Yes
Annoying Product Placement Yes
Action In or After Credits No

NOTE: The Profanity Filter is ON. Turn it off here.

Plot Synopsis

    Childhood is a time of imagination and wonder, of fantasy and exploration, of dreams and discovery. Hogarth Hughes is just like any other American kid growing up in the 50s. When not at school, the young boy is busy looking in the woods near his home for his next perfect pet, much to his mother's chagrin. Annie Hughes (Jennifer Aniston) works at the local diner, doing her bit as a single mother raising a young boy with too much mischief on his mind. So when Hogarth's mother calls home to tell her son that she will have to work late that night, it's a perfect opportunity to stay up too late and watch scary movies (in direct contravention to Annie's directions, of course). But this night isn't like any other, and Hogarth is about to find out that not all the monsters are on the Late Movie.

    When the TV reception cuts out at a climactic part of the scary movie, Hogarth (Eli Marienthal) goes to the top of his house to check the antenna. He is surprised (and a little frightened) to see that it isn't just faulty, but missing altogether. Damage to the fences and other signs tell Hogarth that something is afoot, and that a visitor is about. Grabbing his B-B gun and a flashlight, the young boy heads out into the woods to investigate. Following a trail of damage and destruction in the nearby forest, Hogarth finds little sign of what has caused the damage, until he reaches a remote power station. It's when he is at this power station that Hogarth realizes that he is not on his own. Out of the shadows comes a huge metallic being, a giant metal robot over 100 feet tall. Walking right past him, the metal man proceeds to the power station, and begins to eat it!  Strangely, this metallic giant is unable to understand the power that is housed at the station and soon finds himself being electrocuted in the station's power lines. Gathering his wits about him, Hogarth runs to the station and finds a cut-off switch just in time to save the robot. With the robot collapsed on the ground, Hogarth tentatively investigates the massive creature, only to have it regain consciousness. Hogarth quickly runs away, fearful of the huge metal being.

    Meanwhile, government agent Kent Mansley (Christopher McDonald) has been sent by Washington to investigate sightings of a giant metal object. Pompous and self absorbed, Mansley rolls into town with a superiority complex and Russians on his mind. The U.S.S.R. has just launched the Sputnik space probe, and the U.S. is nervous as to the intentions of the Communist republic. If any sightings of a giant metal man have anything to do with a Red invasion, Kent is the man to get to the bottom of it. When there is a train derailment near the Maine seaside community, Kent Mansley travels to a nearby house to use the phone...the home of Annie and Hogarth Hughes.

    Whilst Kent snoops around the town, Hogarth has coaxed the Giant out of his hideaway in the woods and begins to teach him. It becomes apparent that the Giant has an impaired memory, and Hogarth begins to teach the robot some basic words. It's not long before Hogarth and the Giant become trusting of each other, but danger approaches as Kent is forever on the trail of the metal man. Things become worse when Annie rents Kent the spare room in the Hughes household, and Hogarth has to be doubly sure that he and the Giant aren't found out. Things become more serious when Hogarth discovers accidentally that the Iron Giant might be more than a 100 foot tall metal man, but a powerful weapon capable of unleashing untold destruction. With the help of the super cool Dean (the town's local beatnik junkyard artist, voiced by Harry Connick Jr.), it's up to Hogarth to make sure that the Giant is kept undiscovered, but with Kent on his case, is it too late?

    Just a simple plot outline here, just in case there is anyone reading this who hasn't seen the film. If you are like me, and for one reason or another missed seeing the film over the last 5 years, then I can say that you are in for a treat. With the paranoia of imminent Russian attack in the U.S. during the 50s, America was a skittish and fearsome country, just as it is now in this day of  Al-Qaeda, September 11, Bali and Osama bin Laden. This film is a lesson that there is no reason to fear everything and it's better to love than fight.

    This is a wonderful film that will entertain and move people of all ages. My young son, just 4 years old, was for the first time moved to tears with the emotional impact of this story. There is a lesson here that a great many people (especially in high places) could learn from. I hope that my son takes the message from this film with him his whole life. He'll be the better for it. This film is a real treat and is highly recommended.

    This is a new release of this film. Here is the review of the first release as posted on the site.

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Transfer Quality

Video

    The video quality here is quite good, and is quite possibly the best traditionally animated feature transfer that I've seen.

    This disc presents the video in 2.40:1, 16x9 enhanced. This is near to the film's original theatrical aspect ratio of 2.35:1.

    The clarity and sharpness of image here is fantastic. I'm quite happy with how this looks on my display, and Warner Bros. are to be congratulated on their effort in making this a quality presentation. Shadow detail here is very good, with the darker scenes animated with various shades of dark revealing a good level of detail throughout. I had no problems with low level noise here.

    This film uses colour very well, with different colour schemes used to enhance different emotions throughout the film. It does have a slight exaggeration, as would be expected for an animated release, but it is fairly natural in context and suits the material well. Colour's transfer to disc is exemplary.

    I found little to fault with this transfer (I enjoy saying this, as I don't get to do it very often). I've had an opportunity (thanks to my young son) to view this film several times, and I'm still pleased with the quality of the transfer. There is a slight hint of grain, but it is far from pronounced. There is also the very slightest aliasing shimmer visible on straight animated lines. I didn't have a real problem with it, and it's possible that a 100 Hz television would make this invisible.

     I found the subtitles to be quite accurate, without being word for word.

    This disc is formatted RSDL with the layer change taking place at 39:20, which is within Chapter 19. It is a very well placed change and I had to use a computer programme to find it.

Video Ratings Summary
Sharpness
Shadow Detail
Colour
Grain/Pixelization
Film-To-Video Artefacts
Film Artefacts
Overall

Audio

    The audio mix here is quite good and suits the material well.

    There are 5 audio options on this disc. English, French, Italian and Dutch are available as well as a Director's Commentary. The four feature audio options are Dolby Digital 5.1 running at the standard Warner Bros. bitrate of 384 Kb/s. The audio commentary comes in at 192 Kb/s.

    The quality of the audio is quite good with the spoken word understandable throughout. In the context of an animated film, I thought that the sync for the soundtrack was quite good with action on screen matching the audio.

    Music for this feature comes from the late Michael Kamen. Michael is known for his fantastic scores for such films as Brazil, Die Hard, Mr. Holland's Opus, Band of Brothers and Open Range. The music for this feature fits very well into the 50s feel of the film whilst capturing the emotion of the storyline. A very good score.

    This disc presents the audio quite well with the surrounds being used in a complementary fashion to the sound from the mains. There isn't a lot of gimmicky rears sounds, just an embracing soundstage that adds to the theatrical experience.

    There is plenty of LFE available on this disc, with the .1 channel providing back-up for many a thump, bump and bang as featured in the film.

Audio Ratings Summary
Dialogue
Audio Sync
Clicks/Pops/Dropouts
Surround Channel Use
Subwoofer
Overall

Extras

    There is a plethora of extras here for those interested in the production and making of the film.

Menu

    After the normal distributor's logos, we are taken to the disc's Main Menu which offers us the following:     The menus are 16x9 enhanced and some feature music from the film's soundtrack in Dolby Digital 2.0.

    Selecting the Special Features icon on the Main Menu brings up the following selections:

    And on Page 2: Cast & Crew

    3 pages of cast and crew listings.

Commentary with Brad Bird, Jeffrey Lynch, Tony Fucile and Steve Markowski

    The film's director (Bird), story department head (Lynch), animation department head (Fucile) and storyboard artist (Markowski) provide an interesting and entertaining feature commentary. There are few gaps in this one and you'll get information out of this that isn't available in the rest of the extras. If you like this film, then the commentary is worth a listen.

 Additional Scenes with Intros by Brad Bird

    These scenes that didn't make the film are preceded with a short introduction by the film's director Brad Bird explaining why they were not included.
 

    These deleted and incomplete scenes (as well as the following extras unless otherwise noted) are presented in 2.35:1, non 16x9 enhanced with audio in Dolby Digital 2.0.

Teddy Newton "The X-Factor"   -   5:38

    Teddy Newton is way out there. 'Off the chain' is a phrase that comes to mind when seeing the storyboard artist's concept of Annie and Dean's first date. As director Brad Bird would say, "Ted is a free-range talent". Have a look at this and you'll see why. Teddy has written and produced a film called The Trouble with Lou, which is said to be a real laugh.

Duck and Cover Sequence   -   2:23

    This is a great little feature that pokes fun at the silly and futile Duck and Cover films of the late 50s.

The Voice of the Giant   -   2:38

    Features a look at Vin Diesel, the voice of the Iron Giant and how he was chosen for the role.

Behind the Armour

    This is a look at the various things that went into the making of the film, from score cues to logo animation to the actors that made the characters come to life.

Page 2

Motion Gallery   -   4:22

    Storyboards, animatics and final version snippets set to music.

Theatrical Trailer   -   2:16

    A happy-go-lucky trailer that doesn't quite show the emotional content of the film. Still, a good trailer that sells the film well. Presented in 2.35:1 with 16x9 enhancement and audio in Dolby Digital 2.0.

"Brad Bird" Trailer   -   1:29

    Perhaps this is a test or promotional trailer that the director used to sell the film. Whatever the case, this is presented in a similar style to the extras provided above. 2.35:1, non 16x9 enhanced with audio in Dolby Digital 2.0

DVD-Rom Features

    Features a range of extras when used in conjunction with the InterActual Player (included).

Easter Egg No. 1   -   0:14

    Highlight the Scene Selections title on the Scene Selection Menu. Presents a goofy computer animation of the Giant

Easter Egg No. 2

    Highlight the florescent light at the top of the Special Features Menu. Presents a letter to producer Allison Abbate from the film's writer Ted Hughes.

Easter Egg No. 3   -   0:11

    Highlight the teacher's glasses in the Additional Special Features Menu. Presents a funny animatic of Kent Mansley.

Easter Egg No. 4   -   0:14

    Highlight the girl's bow on the Behind the Armour Menu. Presents a computer animation test with the Giant doing ballet.

R4 vs R1

NOTE: To view non-R4 releases, your equipment needs to be multi-zone compatible and usually also NTSC compatible.

     This disc has been released twice, both here in Region 4 as well as Region 1. The initial releases were comparable, with the Region 1 disc getting a Pan & Scan version of the film as well as some cast and crew biographies. There was not a huge difference between the two versions. With this new Special Edition version, we get essentially the same version as our Region 1 cousins (Yaaaaaaa!) with our disc getting 2 extras languages (Italian and Dutch). Right down to the Easter Eggs, we get the same package as Region 1. The only omission that I would note is the lack of the The Making Of The Iron Giant featurette that was included on the first release of this film. As this is missing on both the Special Edition versions in Region 1 and Region 4, you can buy the Region 4 version with confidence.

Summary

     This is a wonderful film that is entertaining whilst presenting a message. I sometimes don't like message films, but this is a huge exception. Worth a look, and good fun for the whole family. Highly recommended.

     The video is very good.

     The audio sounds great.

     There are a host of extras for those interested in the production of the film.

Ratings (out of 5)

Video
Audio
Extras
Plot
Overall

© Sean Bradford (There is no bio.)
Sunday, December 12, 2004
Review Equipment
DVDPanasonic DVD RP-82 with DVD-Audio on board, using S-Video output
DisplayBeko TRW 325 / 32 SFT 10 76cm (32") 16x9. Calibrated with Digital Video Essentials (PAL). This display device is 16x9 capable.
Audio DecoderYamaha RX-V2300 Dolby Digital and dts. Calibrated with Digital Video Essentials (PAL).
AmplificationYamaha RX-V2300 110w X 6 connected via optical cable and shielded RCA (gold plated) connects for DVD-Audio
SpeakersVAF DC-X Fronts (bi-wired), VAF DC-6 Center, VAF DC-2 Rears, VAF LFE-07 Sub (Dual Amp. 80w x 2)

Other Reviews NONE
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