Yeah, yeah, yeah. We all know that Charlton Heston parted
the Red Sea as Moses in The 10 Commandments. And we all well aware of
the older stop animation films of Ray Harryhausen and how cool King Kong
must have looked atop the Empire State Building back in the 1930’s.
But today, we hold special effects up to a higher standard. The technology
has advanced tenfold just in the past five years and our expectations
in effects laden flicks have turned big budget summer blockbusters into
money making monsters.
So what are the best special effects scenes of all-time? Well, arguably
everyone is going to have an opinion and we ourselves noted that if we
attempt the same list again in a month, we might have a few different
entries or observations.
But fuck the future. Hell, if any of the movies on our list end up becoming
a reality, there might not be one anyways. So here are our Top 10 Special
Effects scenes of all-time:
Liquid Metal Terminator –
Terminator 2: Judgment Day (1991)
When the T-1000 transforms from a liquid metal into Robert Patrick in
a police outfit, audiences cheered and now almost 20 years later, the
effect still stands as one of the best ever filmed. James Cameron spared
no expense in his follow up to the Cult-successful Terminator and the
effects by Stan Winston, Dennis Muren, Gene Warren Jr., and Robert Skotak
won an Academy Award for their efforts.
Bullets captured through the water
at Omaha Beach - Saving Private Ryan (1988)
Steven Spielberg’s masterpiece (he has many) opened with bang. Literally.
Soldiers that the audience had yet to even be introduced were thrust into
the waters at Omaha Beach in the recreation of the American landing. As
the doors open to their transport, bullets pick off soldiers like a turkey
shoot. Even those that try to escape the onslaught by jumping in the water
are not safe. Bullets continue to find targets on the ocean’s floor
and the sea soon turns red with innocent blood. Having bullets tracked
through water has been done many times since, but never better.
Bridge Destruction – War of
the Worlds (2005)
Back to back Spielberg. In 2005, Spielberg updated the 1950’s classic
War of the Worlds. The result was a special effects bonanza. But there
was one scene that stood out more than the rest. While Tom Cruise was
trying to escape in a car with his family, the aliens were attacking in
the background. When they weren’t turning us into dust, they were
destroying our cities and the destruction of the bridge behind them while
Dakota Fanning asks if they were under a terrorist attack clearly stands
out as one of the best scenes of the past 10 years. Even if it only lasts
about 10 seconds.
Good-bye White House – Independence
Roland Emmerich hits our list for the first time with his destruction
of the White House and other city monuments in 1996’s Independence
Day. With a giant alien ship hovering directly above the White House,
the countdown ends and one beam destroys the Presidential residence. In
subsequent years, everything from The Core to Armageddon copied this winning
formula, but we picked the one that started it all for our list.
Rebel Fighters in Death Star Trench
– Star Wars (1977)
Come on. How can a Star Wars film not make our list? It was 1977 and it
still holds up. Luke Skywalker and a squadron from the Rebel Alliance
take aim at a vulnerable flaw in the Imperial Death Star. Sure, the attack
had a low percentage chance of success but hell, Luke used to bullseye
womp rats in his T-16 back home which required the same great aim. As
fighter after fighter entered the trench and fought off Imperial Tie-Fighters
and internal defense fire canons, audiences were witness to one of the
greatest special effects sequences of all time.
Dodging Bullets – The Matrix
A scene so popular that it has been copied in more movies than we care
to mention. When Neo finds himself on top of a building and staring down
the barrel of an Agent’s gun, you would think it would be game over.
But when the bullets fly, Neo is able to bend and contort his body to
avoid the bullets that are shown in slow motion with a cool bullet tracking
effect. Any effect that is copied this often needs to be recognized.
T-Rex goes mad – Jurassic Park (1993)
Yes, Spielberg graces our list for a third time with his dinosaurs-gone-mad
flick Jurassic Park. There were plenty of great, award winning effects
to choose from, but we opted for the scene where we get introduced to
the T-Rex for the first time. His appearance steals the show and his roar
was epic. As he chases the fleeing car holding our protagonists down the
road, we were amazed and scared at the same time. Bravo!
Water floods New York – The Day After Tomorrow
There were plenty of special effects in Roland Emmerich’s disaster
porn film The Day After Tomorrow, but when a giant tsunami engulfs the
Statue of Liberty and then pours into the streets of Manhattan, the wall
of water is filmed both from the ground and in a highly entertaining and
well orchestrated view from above as we watch the water flow between buildings
in a fluid and disastrous motion.
The Battle of Endor – Return
of the Jedi (1983)
If Spielberg could make it on our list three times, then why not George
Lucas. In Return of the Jedi we were subjected to annoying Ewoks that
were the Jar Jar Bink’s of 1983. But the final battle scene above
Endor more than made up for having to suffer through teddy bears throwing
rocks. With the Millennium Falcon leading the way, the Rebel Alliance
again took aim at the new Death Star. The effects were dizzying and dazzling
and there were more ships Tie-Fighters and X-Wings to catalogue.
Los Angeles falls – 2012 (2009)
You may have hated the film, but damned if the special effects weren’t
some of the best we have ever seen. Roland Emmerich shows Spielberg that
he ain’t the only one who can hit our list three times as he destroys
the world in 2012. Rome, Las Vegas and Los Angeles are three cities that
get the special effects treatment and the destruction of L.A. which includes
having the entire city shown falling into the ocean tops our list. When
it comes to the ‘wow’ factor, 2012 delivers.
DELUXE 3-DISC SET
Release Date: August 14, 2012 COMPLETE
MOVIES REVIEWED The Innkeepers, Monster Brawl, Attack the Block,
The Woman, Grave Encounters, Paranormal Activity 3, Red State, A Serbian
Film, More Brains Documentary, The Incredible Melting Man, War of the
Worlds (1953), Ghoulies, Troll Hunter, and more!