I'm 25 years old. I have no children. So why am I praising a 'kid's movie' which nobody saw? Because I have never seen a film pack the emotional wallop 'The Iron Giant' provided.
The film's plot is similar to 'E.T.' - a young boy meets an alien robot from outer space, who is stranded on earth, and runs afoul of paranoid government agents. Not to knock the Spielberg film, but what makes 'The Iron Giant' the better film is that the young boy is the teacher. It is he who
has to teach the Giant about the beauty of life, the difference between good and evil, and choices we have to make. The Iron Giant, it turns out, is a weapon, who has to struggle against his own nature. The film has an obvious (and timely) gun control message, but its real message is about the choice we make when dealing with other people. We can use our powers for good or lash out at everyone around us.
I dare not give away the climax. All I will say is that it features a sacrifice absolutely breaktaking and emotionally shattering (albeit somewhat blunted by the ending). The animation is gorgeous, Michael Kamen's score is perfect, and the film beautifully evokes the 1950s.
Sadly, poor marketing kept audiences away in droves. All I can say is, to heck with the box office gross. Despite Warner's appearant desire to pretend the film never existed, the word is getting around about what a magical film this is, and I have no doubt it will join 'It's a Wonderful Life' as a film which bombed in theatres but became a classic over the years. See it now, so you can say you discovered it before everyone else did.