The Best of 2004

My favorites of 2004:

The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King :: Best Picture of 2003 :: 11 Academy Awards

Movies:

Finding Neverland
Harry Potter and the Prizoner of Azkaban
The Incredibles
Napoleon Dynamite
Ocean’s 12
The Passion of the Christ
Spider-Man 2
The Village

TV:

Alias
Arrested Development
Extreme Makeover Home Edition
Lost
Scrubs
StarGate Atlantis
StarGate SG-1

I hadn’t seen a single episode of any of those shows before 2004. Now I’m a huge fan of all of them.

The Iron Giant

The Iron Giant is from genius writer/director Brad Bird. Based on a novel called “The Metal Man” or something like that.

Brad Bird was making the film WHILE WB was shutting down the Animation division, which is one reason the marketting of the movie stank. You can see why Pixar hired Brad Bird (The Incredibles). It’s a shame that this movie came out the same year as Toy Story 2. It made only $23,159,305 compared with TS2’s $245,852,179.

When I got the DVD, I got it only because of word-of-mouth, and nothing else to back it up. I ended up watching it 5 times in the first week. This was last summer. I have the Special Edition on Pre-Order.

The film, being about a boy that is a latch-key kid named Hogarth with an amazing imagination, has more heart than most Disney Animation that I have seen. You meet Dean, a cool cat with a taste for art that is also a gentleman. Hogarth’s mother is well portrayed in the film as a single mother. Set in the time before the cold war, there is an innocence to this movie that is refreshing. Every scene in it feels very real, even though it is animated. The characters, the dialogue, the voice acting, all together mold into a film that really works. Seeing this as a live action story would be really interesting, and with today’s effects, could work. Not sure if it would have the same effect, however.

When it comes to the messages present in the film, we see honesty and friendship, trust and courage prevail throughout the story. We see values and love, and loyalty. The way the characters all interact with each other, helping each other out, and being there for each other, even when they hardly know each other. You can honestly see the points where the characters begin to like each other.

There is also the villain of the story that isn’t your typical villain. Probably why this was hard to promote. He’s a government agent, hot on the trail of the Iron Giant. Even though he’s an archetypical character villain, there is really nothing very sinister about him. He honestly wants to help the US. He’s trying so hard though, that he loses his mind about it, and goes too far. His decision effects the end of the movie in a way that makes us realize that we want to see these characters prevail. That we want them to survive. And then we were reminded of things introduced throughout the movie. And reminded of the good times that they all had together. That it’s okay to be like a kid, to have dreams. That killing people is bad, and what love is. And that an act of self-sacrifice is the greatest thing you can do for a friend. Laying down your life.

It’s really incredible that all of that comes across in less than an hour and a half, but it does with a simple and even handed look into the simple life of being a kid, and all of the things that kids can do, that are so difficult with the weight of being an adult.