Friday, September 30, 2011

Look! A List

As was mentioned earlier in the week, I’ve been sick. Being sick is a curious thing, as apparently it makes me watch Star Wars. After the worst part past - that would be the part where I was near death, seeing visions from the spirit world and wondering if each thought was going to be my last - yeah, after all that was over and I was just normal sick, like where I mope around and complain to everyone about how crappy life is, and how the universe is actively trying to kill me by disease, I sat down and watched some Star Wars.

I saw A New Hope on Saturday actually, before the worst hit, but whatever, I was feeling bad by then. When I watched it, I realized it was the first time in several years I’d seen it. I picked up the old trilogy on Blu Ray last week out of my morbid curiosity to see what else got tinkered with since the last time I watched it. Honestly, I don’t know. Best I could tell it looked the same. I did notice however, that many of the fx that were update in the 90’s looked very… gaudy maybe, when compared to the rest of the film. It forced me to decide that the updates need some updates. You know, to make the fx look better. I just found that funny.

Well, truth be told, the dog fight sequences don’t bother me at all, those were fine, the planetside updates though, the added creatures and people. Ugh.

Still like the movie though.

I watched Empire Wednesday night. Always my favorite, as it is most everyone’s I thought, until my step son said lots of people say episode III is sorta the popular choice for best SW movie.


I did manage to ask him if anyone over the age of 20 has ever placed a vote for that one. He shrugged, as if to say, ‘it isn’t my opinion. I’m just sharing with you what I’ve heard.’ All I can say is he has stupid friends. 

Well, I watched Empire and was pretty impressed. It’s a beautiful movie, and the Hoth sequence it still wow inducing. I mean, if I saw it for the first time today, when those AT-AT Walkers come waddling around and shooting with those laser mandible things, I think I’d just about wet myself with excitement. And it’s 30 years old. Damn.

So, in honor of that moment, I’ve decided to give you, beloved reader, a list of the five most amazing fx shots I’ve ever seen in my life. I don’t know crap about level of difficulty, if it’s ripped off from something else, and I don’t care if it hasn’t aged very well. These are things that made me freak out, that made my heart race, or, in one occasion, actually cry upon first viewing.

5. AT-AT Walkers crushing shit in The Empire Strikes Back: I know. I just got done talking about this one. It isn’t higher for me probably because I couldn’t separate that sequence from the movie as a whole at the time. However, I can’t think of anything before this moment in film history where I could watch something so ridiculously implausible was depicted so realistically. Again, might deserve to be higher, but this list is really about me, not about the fx. For me, it’s just number 5. I mean, when I was a kid I didn't really pay much attention to fx, so it didn't move me like it would have had I been older. For awhile there it was a toss up between Empire and Battle From Beyond the Stars for my favorite movie... I didn't quite have the perspective I have now.

If I was building those things, I'd add more guns

4. Crazy tentacle thing from The Abyss: I'm not sure when I became aware of digital fx in movies, but I recall seeing the thing mimic whatshername's face and I went home trying my damnedest to figure out how they did that. I just couldn't figure it out. My best guess at the time was they had real aliens perform the role of movie aliens - at least for that scene. 

Remember, if you ever meet an alien, don't poke it in the eye

3. T-1000 rising from the floor in T2: That movie is 20 years old and I guarantee if a movie were made today attempting to utilize the same shot that it would look cheesy. The T-1000 would come flying out of the floor, the camera would shake a lot, I’d see the inside of someone’s nostrils for a second, and then blood would splatter onto the camera lens… and I wouldn’t know what the crap just happened. I couldn't breathe when I saw this shot for the first time. Really. Couldn't breathe. I'm still stunned when I watch it.

I wish my floor could do that

2. T-Rex destroying jeeps in Jurassic Park: Came out about 2 years after T2 did and man, at that point I truly believed there were no limits to what could be filmed. My imagination at least, was tapped out on the idea that something was truly unfilmable.

Hey! Is he looking at me?

1. Bridge destroyed and Jamie Lee Curtis gets lifted from car in True Lies: Ha! Didn't see that one coming, did you? I, no joke, cried during that scene. At that time, I honestly thought they really destroyed that bridge going to the Keys. Then that rescue where they pulled her out of the sunroof of the car right before it crashed into the water. Daaaaammmn.

Yep. That Really Happened.

If I had to throw in an honorable mention (or two) I'd have to say either the cave troll sequence from The Fellowship of the Ring, um, or maybe the battle with Sauron during the opening of the same movie. I had never scene crowds done before like that. It caught me off guard and blew me away. In a movie full of some very subtle fx, those sequences made me forget everything (upon subsequent viewings) for just a moment, and freak out about how awesome the fx were. It was great movie, and some of the things that wowed me then have aged a bit. But at the time. Damn.

Also, in ID4, I can't watch that movie now, but when it came out, those impossibly large ships breaking through the atmosphere were breathtaking. Real wow moment. Ah, memories.

And there you have it. Definitive. Unarguable. Mathematical. Happy Friday.


Tonja said...

I totally agree with your list. Did you notice in SW Episode 3 that the end was a lot like that Monty Python skit where the black knight gets his arms and legs cut off one at a time? My husband and I were laughing out loud in the theatre.

Nancy said...

I think sickness pulls us back to childhood and we want something that is greater than ourselves to prove we will survive. My daughter used to always watch Mulan. Now, she watches Harry Potter when sick. Enjoyed your list and probably don't have one of my own but that True Lies moment was truly awesome.

julie fedderson said...

This is an awesome list, although T2 would probably be number one for me because that liquid metal thing was just more than I could wrap my head around when I saw it. Even mixed up a bunch of cornstarch with water to make a big slurry, because it hardens with impact yet stays liquid in the bowl because I heard that was the inspiration for the technical effects.

Wow, I just went all geekism there.

Anyway, I prefer these "old" effects to a lot of the current seizure inducing CGI megaeffects.

Rogue Mutt said...

You'll notice most of your list are James Cameron movies. He's a freaking genius when it comes to that stuff. Story, not always so much.

Rogue Mutt said...

And also the way modern effects rewrite all rules of physics is something I think Roger Ebert complains about nearly as much as 3D. I have to admit a lot of the new effects just aren't that spectacular because they look like a video game. I mean if you watch a car chase now you know most of it is done on a computer so it's basically just a scene of "Grand Theft Auto" whereas when I watch "Ronin" from 1999 I know those are real cars with real drivers (not Robert de Niro and Jean Reno but still actual humans) which makes it better because it's more plausible in my mind.

Matthew MacNish said...

I think that blu-ray (and sometimes hi-def TV) sometimes looks very strange in digitized scenes. Some TVs (like my Sony) have different settings for sports and movies and so forth. I think it has to do with pixel refresh rate or something. It doesn't happen as much with plasma as with LCD.

Anyway, as to your post, I LOVE Star Wars, but anyone who thinks Episode III is even worth watching is a moron. It's by far the worst of the "new" trilogy, and they're all bad.

Also, as Rogue Mutt alludes to, 3D is evil.

Alex J. Cavanaugh said...

Your stepson is insane! Empire is by far the best.
Excellent choices for best FX. Definitely got to give props to the T-Rex. Almost twenty years old and it looks amazing.

Rogue Mutt said...

I thought Episode III had a couple of great moments, but overall it's a letdown, especially the climactic fight between Obi-Wan and Anakin, which was probably the third best lightsaber duel of the prequels.

Michael Offutt said...

I like the prequels more than the original series. Just sayin. And I'm way over 20.

Sarah Pearson said...

My vote goes to the T2 sequence - I thought it was amazing. Still do.

Munk said...

I am so with you on this. T2 scared the hell out of a friend of mine, because he realized that he could no longer "trust" images. It all looked too real.