For the most part, The Iron Giant is beautifully done, and it's smart enough to tap both emotional and cultural meaning without the benefit of cute animals. Best of all, it mines quasi-historic themes about sensitive kids, fatherless families, unthinking governments, and epidemic paranoia with sophistication. But it also falls prey to the myth that technology, as in sheer hardware, is really cool no matter what it's designed to do. The Iron Giant may yet inspire a new, more thoughtful kind of animated feature, but for now the road out of Disneyland is only half-paved.
A boy and his toy: The good buddies of The Iron Giant