10/10
Bravo to the one and only...
18 August 2016
Warning: Spoilers
RAY HARRYHAUSEN: Special Effects Titan is a breath of fresh air in documentary movie making the same way Harryhausen's work is a breath of fresh air in the realm of special effects.

Here we have a documentary that spares us the annoying tell-you-what-to-think voice-over that is so typical of this type of film. Instead we are treated to a volley of on camera admirers from Spielberg on down who acknowledge Ray Harryhausen as the innovative genius that he was.

Generous clips from Harryhausen's films illustrate his work even as it is described in such loving detail by his fellow cinematic artists.

Made s few years before his passing and when he was still spry and articulate, RAY HARRYHAUSEN: Special Effects Titian benefits greatly from interviews with the great man himself.

One interesting point of conflict occurs when director James Cameron opines that, if he were working today, Harryhausen would unquestionably embrace the latest CGI technology. Yet in stark contrast to that we hear Harryhausen say that he wouldn't. Cameron, who has pioneered many contemporary special effects, understandably believes that the latest is the best. But Harryhausen has a point. Today's effects might be flawless in terms of execution, but does that very achievement undermine the humanity of it all? Consider looking at a painting generated by a computer then compare it to one of the great masterworks of Rembrandt, Van Gogh, Degas, etc. where you can actually see the indentation of the brush hairs--a reminder that a human hand once guided the brush that created the work of art. Perhaps it is a matter of preference and both points of view are valid. If James Cameron or George Lucas stopped making films would there be others who could take their place? Had Ray Harryhausen not been the innovator and genius that he was, blessed with incredible patience, single-mindedness and focus, might another have achieved the same thing? Put it another way, if Cameron and Lucas had come first, would they have inspired Ray Harryhausen? Surely the point of RAY HARRYHAUSEN: Special Effects Titan is that it is a tribute, a work of love and respect and veneration towards the true titan and father of modern special effects. For every fan of fantasy and adventure who loves dinosaurs and sword-wielding skeletons and a Medusa that sends shivers down your spine, RAY HARRYHAUSEN: Special Effects Titan is a must-have. And, while bowing to Harryhausen's genius, the filmmakers never fawn. This is the difference between tribute and treacle.

An extra feature showing the rediscovery of many of Harryhausen's sculpted creatures that have been packed away in crates for years is like a cross between kids opening their much-anticipated Christmas presents and Howard Carter entering the tomb of King Tutankhamun. "Is that really it? Oh my--!!!" Priceless.
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