Gift guide


The Iron Giant: Special Edition

Warner Home Video, $19.99

How do you make a story about a boy and his giant alien robot even cooler? This special edition of 1999's The Iron Giant gives the lovely, gentle film a fine presentation. As is too often the case, the featurettes tend toward self-congratulation and in-jokes: "The Voice of the Giant" lauds Vin Diesel in the title role, and "Teddy Newton: The X Factor" features a cute but inessential gag reel of a date between a local hipster (Harry Connick Jr.) and the boy's mom (Jennifer Aniston). Far better are the additional scenes in their pen-and-ink form, introduced by director Brad Bird. In one remarkable segment titled "The Giant's Dream," the robot subconsciously recalls a previous mission of interplanetary war. The stark, abstract images, such as lines of robots marching, add weight to the movie's antifascist themes and fill out the Giant's retro-futurist sci-fi mystique – his dreams appear on the kid's television, electronically transmitted. Animation nerds might dig the "Behind the Armor" feature, which cuts directly from the film in play to behind-the-scenes explanations, and the motion gallery is pretty impressive. But the real treat is the jovial but no-nonsense filmmakers' commentary. Without the typical chaos, four speakers describe the production process (taking a few jabs at Disney, naturally) and elucidate the film's little details (it ends and begins with beeping noises, for example).

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