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Critic’s Choice: ‘The Iron Giant,’ the film that launched Brad Bird

Critic’s Choice: ‘The Iron Giant,’ the film that launched Brad Bird
The Iron Giant and Hogarth (voiced by Eli Marienthal) in the 1999 animated feature "The Iron Giant." (Warner Bros.)

Brad Bird is best known for directing “The Incredibles” and the current “Incredibles 2,” but “The Iron Giant” was his breakthrough feature and it’s wonderful to have it back on the big screen (with the director doing a Q&A) as part of “Bird Watching: The Animation of Brad Bird,” the American Cinematheque’s mini-retrospective of the filmmaker this weekend.

Straight arrow and subversive, made with simplicity as well as sophistication, “The Iron Giant” remembers the wonder of being a child and understands how to convey that in a media-savvy age.

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This is a simple, straightforward tale of a small boy and his oversize, otherworldly friend. Loosely based on something Ted Hughes wrote for his children after the death of their mother, Sylvia Plath, it felt like an instant classic when it debuted 20 years ago and its appeal has not diminished.

“The Iron Giant,” American Cinematheque, Aero Theatre, 1328 Montana Ave., Santa Monica. 7:30 p.m. Feb. 1. $13-15. www.americancinematheque.com.

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