Hail Harryhausen! The grandfather of stop-motion animation is 92 and still going strong, as proven by this functional but diverting documentary. The talking heads are a predictable but enthusiastic bunch, ranging from direct descendants like Nick Park and Henry Selick to SFX icons like Dennis Muren and Phil Tippett. There’s even a veritable roll-call of the world’s wealthiest film directors: Steven Spielberg, James Cameron, Peter Jackson, Tim Burton and many more all line up to pay tribute to the master. But the real treats here are the clips, many of them taken from Harryhausen’s own collection of offcuts and failed experiments alongside footage from classics such as ‘The 7th Voyage of Sinbad’ and ‘Clash of the Titans’, and it’s fascinating to see how, without the aid of computers, he was able to construct such vivid and memorable monsters. It all feels a bit rushed – 90 minutes isn’t long enough for a proper root around in the archives, and some films get decidedly short shrift – but anyone with a passion for visual effects or a love of good, old-fashioned creature features should feel right at home.
Friday November 9 2012