Since the early days of film, the most mindblowing thing of cinema has been monsters and effects. This documentary goes through the eras from the very beginning up until today, with help from some of the most talented artists in the special effects world, to give an understanding of the power of monsters in film.
Despite the number of horror movie/filmmaking documentaries we get nowadays, I still want to see them. Most of them say the same thing, especially when they're in the same field. We have some that focus on specific figures in the industry such as "Nightmare Factory" following Greg Nicotero, and one of my favorites: "Ray Harryhausen: Special Effects Titan". "Creature Designers: The Frankenstein Complex", showing at Fantasia International Film Festival 2016, somehow feels a bit more extensive than many other horror/monster documentaries, because it is strict to a subject (special effects), but also goes pretty deep into the work of it and what it all means to cinema.
We are familiar with many of the faces in "Creature Designers: The Frankenstein Complex", as these are industry giants that are always interested in being part of documentaries. Among these names are Rick Baker, Joe Dante, John Landis, Phil Tippett, Steve Johnson, Guillermo del Toro, Greg Nicotero, Mark Winston and Kevin Smith. Because this documentary is strictly about special effects, we get some interesting perspectives from these artists that show exactly how important practical effects have been to the world of cinema and its fans.
The documentary also shows the very reality that CGI took over in the '90s - but without condemning it entirely. What people like Rick Baker and Phil Tippett had to go through back then was sad, but there is also an acceptance about the evolution of effects. I am someone who 99% of the time prefer practical effects, because I feel that a so-so practical effect is usually better at portraying the atmosphere than a good CGI effect. In that sense, I was more than ready to hate CGI even more after watching this, but the truth is that the people in the documentary are professionals and they know the importance of evolution of special effect techniques, and the best way today is to mix CGI and practical. It is when a movie trusts CGI too much that it really hurts the movie.
The people behind this documentary has truly put their all into showing us everything that is talked about. It's one thing when you see a talking head, but what made me really enjoy this was all the behind the scenes footage from many (hell, most!) of the movies dicussed. Whether it means concept sketches, to actual footage of the creatures being shot in the movies, it's all there. My biggest hopes when watching documentaries on this subject is that the special effect artists will continue to get the respect they once had, and that it will inspire more young people to start. While I am uncertain what kind of people even watch these documentaries, at the very least it makes me a proud fan of monster movies.
Despite a runtime of nearly 2 hours, time flies. Anyone who is a fan of film and interested in the process of some of the greatest monster movies of all time will enjoy this documentary. Some things are rehashed from all the other documentaries out there, but it doesn't matter too much. This is definitely one of the better of its kind so if you have a choice to just watch one, then let that me either this one, or "Ray Harryhausen: Special Effects Titan".
Note: No rating scores below for this one, as it's a documentary.