(director/writer: Scott Leberecht; cast: Steve “Spaz” Williams, Phil Tippett, Robert Patrick, Mark A.Z. Dippe, Jamie Hynman, Adrienne Biggs, Hannah Williams, Jody Duncan, Tom Bertino, Geoff Campbell, Stefen Fangmeier; Runtime: 81; MPAA Rating: NR; producers: Jason C. Brown/Christina Lee Storm; Gravitas Ventures/Apple TV; 2022)
“Though I’m far from a techie person, this techie film and its guileless but sympathetic creative subject held my interest.”
Reviewed by Dennis Schwartz
Scott Leberecht (“Midnight Son”) in this snazzy character-study documentary tells the story of the Toronto born Steve “Spaz” Williams as a pioneer in computer animation. Spaz was known for his 1993 transforming digital dinosaurs for Spielberg’s Jurassic Park. But is unheralded because of his penchant for anarchy, boozing, recklessness and disregard for authority. The recognition he deserved was not given him, and he was derisively called a Jurassic Punk and blacklisted for disobeying orders to keep away from the dinosaurs.
While working as an animator at Lucas film’s Industrial Light & Magic in the early 1990s, Spaz played a major role in blockbuster cinema’s widespread adoption of CGI, as viewed in his game-changing work on Jurassic Park, The Abyss and Terminator 2.
The earnest film, directed by someone involved with Industrial Light & Magic, hopes to set the record straight about Spaz and give the bad boy animator the credit he deserves. As after the raves JP got for its dinosaurs, Spaz and his team received no praise. This left our boy pissed and led him down a dark path of feeling sorry for himself and boozing it up.
He made his only directorial effort in the Disney pic “The Wild,” and when nothing became of that Spaz did commercials. By now his downward slide had reached a bottom.
Spaz is candid and only blames himself for his career going south, and acknowledges his big ego and his volatile temperament led him astray.
Using interviews with colleagues, friends, ex-wives, his daughter and relatives we get a more lucid picture of the talented man who was cursed.
His work colleague Robert Patrick points out his great work ethic and that his ideas were brilliant. While his friend Jamie Hyneman relates that his wide-ranging mood changes were deadly.
Though I’m far from a techie person, this techie film and its guileless but sympathetic creative subject held my interest.
It played at the SXSW Film Festival.
REVIEWED ON 12/26/2022 GRADE: B