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The Iron Giant Review

Other Critics provided by

Critics scores range from 0 to 100, with higher scores indicating more favorable reviews.

  • 5.0

    out of 100

    Universal acclaim
    based on a weighted average of all
    critic review scores.

  • 75

    out of 100

    USA Today Susan Wloszczyna

    We are happy to report there is intelligent life in feature animation beyond planet Disney and the gaseous ball of foul language known as South Park.

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  • 88

    out of 100

    Chicago Sun-Times Roger Ebert

    Not just a cute romp but an involving story that has something to say.

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  • 88

    out of 100

    Chicago Tribune Mark Caro

    An animated tale equipped with heart, humor, blazing action and not a sappy song in earshot.

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  • 91

    out of 100

    Entertainment Weekly Owen Gleiberman

    At times, The Iron Giant is more serene than it needs to be, but it's a lovely and touching daydream.

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  • See all The Iron Giant reviews at

For Families provided by Common Sense Media

OK for kids 6+

Touching robot-kid friendship tale with great messages.

What Parents Need to Know

Parents need to know that this movie provides the commensurate cartoon action that most kids love: a giant robot under attack; buildings, trains, and cars crashing; futuristic weapons firing; Hogarth, the boy hero, creeping through a dark forest looking for “trouble"; a boat caught in a storm; spooky music; and an arrogant, mean-spirited villain who threatens everyone and everything that is important. It also includes a poignant moment when a deer is shot. The filmmakers bring a point of view to the events, hoping to instruct, explain, and furnish thought-provoking ideas through which kids can view the action (i.e. “guns kill,” the collateral damage of paranoia, and taking responsibility for our choices). Set in the 1950s, one character smokes a pipe throughout and one character smokes a cigarette. Hogarth gives the villain a dose of laxative which humorously results in trips to any bathroom he can find.

  • Families can talk about what makes real friendships.
  • What did you think about the ending? Do you think it had to be that way? What was the alternative?

The good stuff
  • message true5

    Messages: Gracefully utilizes both plot and characters to share messages about behavior, life values, and important issues. “You are what you choose to be,” and “Don’t care what anyone else thinks” are verbalized and illustrated several times. “Guns kill; things die; it’s a part of life,” is portrayed by the errant shooting of a deer, along with “Souls don’t die; all good things go on forever and ever.” Set in the late 1950s, the government’s reaction to the Iron Giant reveals the paranoia and fear that were pervasive during the Cold War. At the film’s end, the robot is given an urgent moral dilemma: should he use his abilities as a weapon to destroy everyone and everything in his path, or should he allow himself to be destroyed in order to save his own goodness… his “soul.”

  • rolemodels true4

    Role models: Hogarth Hughes, the young hero, is seen as resourceful, courageous, curious, compassionate, and intelligent. Though he sometimes ventures outside of his mom’s comfort zone, and even his own comfort zone, he is always well-intentioned and honorable. Hogarth’s struggling single mother is portrayed as concerned, loving, and hard-working. The movie’s villain, a high-ranking U.S. official, is depicted as ruthless, ego-driven, paranoid, and a threat to the heroes.

What to watch for
  • violence false3

    Violence and scariness: Cartoon action sequences play throughout: Boat in storm, man overboard, but escapes; a huge robot (the Iron Giant, who turns out to be one of the film’s heroes) eats metal, destroys a power station, tromps across the landscape, chasing the young boy hero and frightening people. Sparks fly, buildings fall. A deer is shot and killed. The robot is hit by a train, threatened, and shot at countless times by a squadron of armed military. To defend himself the robot creates havoc with some spectacular shooting and firing power of his own. Some spooky music accompanies old black-and-white TV footage.

  • sex false0

    Sexy stuff: Not an issue

  • language false1

    Language: “Hell,” is said three times, an “omigod,” and one “butt.”

  • consumerism false1

    Consumerism: Mentions of Twinkies, Mad magazine, Action Comics, and Superman.

  • drugsalcoholtobacco false1

    Drinking, drugs and smoking: Set in the late 1950s, a secretary smokes a cigarette at her desk; a government official smokes a pipe throughout. A laxative is used to obstruct the progress of the movie’s villain, with predictably humorous results as he continually needs to find a bathroom (as subtly depicted, this plot line will probably go over the heads of younger children).