Your Top 3 Special Effects Sequences/Movies with Special Effects?

Discussion in 'Movies' started by Mike-M, Feb 14, 2004.

  1. Mike-M

    Mike-M Stunt Coordinator

    Jul 21, 2002
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    What are you top 3 special effect sequences in a movie? They cannot be an all CGI movie like Final Fantasy. I know people will want to say Lord of the Rings or Hulk because they are fresh in your mind, but try to remember other great ones also.

    For me, it's hard to only do three. These aren't my definitive, but these three rank in order for me and stick out in my mind.

    1) Any shots of Dinosaurs, especially the T-Rex, in Jurassic Park

    2) Terminator 2's T-1000

    3) The shot when Tom Cruise gets blown off the helicopter onto the back of a moving train in Mission Impossible.

  2. Alex Spindler

    Alex Spindler Producer

    Jan 23, 2000
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    Very hard...

    The nightmarish interrogation scene from The Thing, because it so perfectly matched the mounting suspense with such a horrible scene that the panic of the actors was justified.

    The intense crash sequence at the beginning of Pitch Black. Especially the tearing apart of the hull as Johns hangs on for dear life.

    The first appearance of the T-Rex in Jurassic Park. Perfect blend of CGI and scale animatronics.
  3. Ernest Rister

    Ernest Rister Producer

    Oct 26, 2001
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    Gertie the Dinosaur swallows a Lake.

    Sunlight destroys the Count in Nosferatu.

    Transformation scene in Metropolis.

    Phantom Revealed in Phantom of the Opera.

    King Kong vs. T-Rex in King Kong.

    Lon Chaney becomes The Wolf Man.

    Audiences weep over the death of Snow White.

    Tornado sequence in Wizard of Oz.

    Rite of Spring sequence in Fantasia.

    Peter Ellenshaw refines matte painting in Treasure Island.

    Kirk Douglas vs. Giant Squid in 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea

    Martian Spacecraft Defeat the U.S. Army in War of the Worlds

    The Red Sea Parts in The Ten Commandments.

    Darby plays a Hunting Song for King Brian and the Leprechauns in Darby O'Gill and the Little People

    Mary, Bert and the Children on the Rooftops of London in Mary Poppins.

    Pan-Am Rocket Docks with Orbiting Space Station in 2001

    Reagan's room comes alive in The Exorcist.

    Blockade Runner and Star Destroyer Zoom Overhead in Star Wars.

    Christopher Reeve flies (even upside down) in Superman

    Asteroid Chase in Empire Strikes Back.

    An American Werewolf in London fights with The Howling for bragging rights.

    Light-Cycle Race in Tron

    Speeder Chase in Return of the Jedi

    A Severed Human Head Sprouts Eyes and Eight Legs in The Thing

    Peter MacNichol endures a Go-Motion Dragon's Fire in Dragonslayer.

    E.T. heals Elliot, a Poltergeist destroys a house.

    The Stay-Puft Marshmallow Man Takes Manhattan in Ghostbusters.

    A stained-glass window comes alive in Young Sherlock Holmes.

    Morphing animal becomes an old woman in Willow.

    Joel Silver yells "Cut! Cut! Cut!" in Roger Rabbit.

    Water smiles in The Abyss.

    Robert Patrick emerges from the flames in Terminator 2.

    Impact Tremor of Brachiosaur Rattles Camera in Jurassic Park

    Wildebeast Stampede in The Lion King.

    A Feather Lands on Forrest Gump.

    Woody and Buzz take to the sky in Toy Story.

    Chris realizes his Heaven is Annie's Paintings in What Dreams May Come

    Tarzan Grows Up/Fights the Leopard Sabor in Tarzan.

    George Lucas pushes the boundries of the Digital Back Lot in The Phantom Menace.

    Gandalf defies the Balrog in The Fellowship of the Ring

    "Virtual Cinematography" Debuts with The Matrix Reloaded.
  4. Scott_MacD

    Scott_MacD Supporting Actor

    May 13, 2001
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    I shall assume that we aren't limited to digital visual effects.

    Top 3 sequences?

    1) Jurassic Park's T-Rex assault. Indeed, it was the first time I was completely convinced that I was seeing a living Tyrannosaurus Rex inches from my face. Blind terror!
    2) King Kong on the Empire State Building.
    3) The Ink and Paint club in "Who Framed Roger Rabbit?".

    Top 3 movies with extensive special effects?

    1) The Lord of the Rings : The Return of the King - I choose this, because I just *had* to surrender to it's awesome visual scope and my inability to disbelieve what I was seeing. An utterly magnificent blend of visual effects disciplines towards a singular vision.
    2) 2001 - A Space Odyssey
    3) Blade Runner


    Oh, yes.. [​IMG] As mean as Godzilla and as cute as they come.
  5. Jason_Els

    Jason_Els Screenwriter

    Feb 22, 2001
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    2001: A Space Odyssey - The first modern vision of space and space travel. Anything not done in this style since then seems cheesy.

    Jurassic Park - WOW! Dinosaurs come to life! Also signals the death of stop-motion.

    George Melies - Not for any particular film but for how he pushed the limits of special effects, always trying to do the best and latest, always novel. I can't imagine how wonderful his films must have seemed to crowds at the turn of the 20th century.
  6. Edwin-S

    Edwin-S Producer

    Aug 20, 2000
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    In older live action movies

    Jessica Rabbit singing "Why Don't You Do Right". A similar scene in THE MASK was just a pale imitation.

    The entire opening sequence of 2001: A Space Odyssey right up until Floyd touches the Monolith on the Moon.

    Everything that comes after Floyd touching the Monolith on the moon.

    The attack against the Walkers in "The Empire Strikes Back." Intentional or not, Jackson pays homage to that scene when the Riders of Rohan attack the Oliphants in "Return of The King."

    In newer live action films

    Numerous scenes in "The Return of The King."

    The "bullet time" in "The Matrix."

    The "human Claymore" sequence in "Swordfish." Also the Sikorsky Sky Crane scene in that movie.

    In older animated films

    The Monstro chase scene in "Pinnochio."

    The Night on Bald Mountain sequence in "Fantasia."

    The "April Showers" sequence in "Bambi."

    In newer animated films

    The Jesse's song sequence in "Toy Story II."

    The flying sequence and crash in "The Iron Giant."

    The dolly shot out the dentist's window, followed by the interior sequence inside the Whale from "Finding Nemo." "Of course, he wants us to go to the back. That's where eating takes place!.....Do I taste good Moby? (rubs tail on whale's tongue)....You tell him I don't want to be lunch!!"

    In Japanese animated films.

    The rocket lift off sequence in "Wings of Honneamise."

    The destruction of a personnel carrier by an anti-tank missile in "The Wings of Honneamise."

    A scene of a shot down fighter going vertically into a shack from "The Wings of Honneamise."

    The destruction of the Ziggurat in "Metropolis."

    Edit: Had to correct the song title
  7. Ernest Rister

    Ernest Rister Producer

    Oct 26, 2001
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    "An utterly magnificent blend of visual effects disciplines towards a singular vision."

    The Lord of the Rings films are an awesome demonstration of the collaborative art of filmmaking -- all of these people serving the singular vision of *Tolkien* and doing their best to bring *Tolkien's* story to life.
  8. Alex Spindler

    Alex Spindler Producer

    Jan 23, 2000
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    Since we aren't constrained to just three, I'd add the following:

    Skeleton attack in Jason and the Argonauts
    Nightcrawler's showcasing storm of the White House in X2
    Leeloo's gaze upon the vertical cities of tomorrow in The Fifth Element. Even Lucas couldn't top that shot.
    The entire sequence from spin up of the Machine, "Okay to go", and the travel sequence of Contact. Absolutely breathtaking, especially with the sight that prompts Ellie to exclaim, "They should have sent a poet".
  9. EricSchulz

    EricSchulz Producer

    Jan 6, 2004
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    Hey didn't anyone here see "Titanic"? The destruction of the ship STILL puts knots in my stomach for realism!

    The first appearance of T-Rex in Jurassic Park. Still holds up, even with all the advances in technology.

    The tornado in "Wizard of Oz", sorry "Twister" fans!
  10. Fred Bang

    Fred Bang Stunt Coordinator

    May 7, 2000
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    Wasnt the message supposed to restrict the list to three choices? [​IMG]

    Anyway, for me the three most spectacular sequence I've ever seen:

    1- The Hoth Battle
    2- The Space Battle of Return of the Jedi
    3- The Battle of the Pelenor Fields

    But the most realistic effect I've ever seen is Gollum.
  11. Jonathan Dagmar

    Jonathan Dagmar Supporting Actor

    Dec 29, 2002
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    I tend to view special effects as a necessary evil rather than a good thing, as all too often not enough care has been taken in the execution. For this reason I tend to remember bad special effect more than good ones, because bad ones take me out of the movie, whilst good ones are completely seemless and I forget that it's an effect I am watching and not something real.

    However, for good special effect sequences that at the time were 100% convincing to me.

    Jurrasic Park, T-rex, raptors.
    Puppet Yoda (so his mouth was a little stiff, he look "organic" which I think is key)
    Rolling ball in Raider of the lost Ark (again it is convincing because it is real, Ford is not reacting to an imaginary CGI creation behind him)

    As for BAD special effects

    Anytime CGI is used to create a human or humanoid alien (with the exception of the superwide shots used at time in Lord of the Rings).
    Specifically the CGI Yoda in Episode 2. At no time was I convinced that this creature was real, it had the typical "shiny" appearance of CGI.
    Any other CGI alien in that movie, including the diner cook thAT OBI-WAN is friends with. Not at all convincing. Ditto all of the aliens at Dooku conference table. I think it is no accident that the most convincing aliens are the one that are old fashioned actors in make up. (curiously Weta managed to pull off gollum with flying colours, i think bnecause they basically painted over the on screen antics of a REAL actor.)
  12. Simon Massey

    Simon Massey Cinematographer

    Aug 9, 2001
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    Real Name:
    Simon Massey
    1. The entire Moria sequence from Fellowship Of The Ring. This was stunning the first time I saw it, and this is the first thing I put on if I am flicking through scenes of some of my films, which I sometimes do.

    2. The lightsabre duel from Empire Strikes Back. The duel from The Phantom Menace may be flashier, but this is a perfect blend of practical effects, matte paintings, etc. that is utterly convincing to me anyway.

    3. The T-Rex sequence from Jurassic Park. Clearly from the other comments on this thread, this is a favourite of many people. Agree with Alex's comment - perfect blend of CGI and animatronics.

    In fact a common feature of these is a blending of different techniques to convince and not an over-reliance on one technique to produce the effect.
  13. Mike-M

    Mike-M Stunt Coordinator

    Jul 21, 2002
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    The T-Rex scene when we first see him is so good that I cannot tell when it's special effects. I can't tell when it's animatronics. I look at that and truly see a living dinosaur.

    Whereas, oddly enough, in JP3, I could totally tell SFX from animatronics and it didn't look too real.
  14. Adam_S

    Adam_S Producer

    Feb 8, 2001
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    Real Name:
    King Kong removes Fay Wray's clothes in King Kong

    "Where's the Goat" up to chasing the truck or the Raptors in the Kitchen both in Jurassic Park.

    Lightsaber duel in Empire Strikes Back

    Best SFX films

    LOTR trilogy
    King Kong
    Jurassic Park
  15. Seth Paxton

    Seth Paxton Lead Actor

    Nov 5, 1998
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    Yeah, Titanic has some really amazing moments.

    "There's something you don't see everyday" (something like that) - lights go out on the ship

    And the "Here we go" sequence when the back of the ship has turned up and then starts to drop straight down into the ocean.

    The TRex chase was great in JP.

    King Kong on the ESB, classic for a reason.

    Many sequences in Metropolis (27), but especially the "electric rings" effect. That is a great FX film. Morlock machine is terrific too.

    Attack on Hoth, inventive and cool looking. Also the asteroid belt scene and the Vader/Luke saber fight.

    The boulder in Raiders, really the whole escape

    Moria in FOTR, P. Fields in ROTK, Gollum in TTT, all memorable.

    Ben-Hur 59 has some great matte work, very effective. Also good editing giving quite effective illusions of people being trampled.

    2001 - but especially the deep space and Jupiter and Beyond sections.

    Not quite "FX" but I love the stunt work in both Live and Die in LA car chase and all the car work in Road Warrior.

    Yeah, the twister in Wiz of Oz is really amazing when you watch it. That film has many good effects, especially for the time.

    Hitchcock's mattes and FX were often not transparent, yet very interesting and effective. I love the whole look of Rear Window, for example.
  16. Dana Fillhart

    Dana Fillhart Supporting Actor

    Feb 8, 1999
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    As far as seamless F/X go, I still think to this day, the ground bugs in Starship Troopers have yet to be beat. Utterly incredible the job done there.

    My personal favorites:

    3. The tidal wave on the beach in Deep Impact
    2. The destruction of the Machine in Contact
    1. The whole Moria flight sequence is just utterly phenomenal, especially the culminating scene with Gandalf vs. the Balrog; The Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring

    An honorable mention goes to the following:
    • The "Olympic Torch Runner" and the explosion, at Helm's Deep, in The Lord of the Rings: The Two Towers
    • I'll second that Leeloo-views-the-city shot in The Fifth Element, certainly fascinating
    • I'll also second the mention of Terminator 2: Judgement Day, with Robert Patrick as the T-1000, coming out of the flames and morphing back to the actor's cop form -- but also the psychiatric ward scene with him slipping through those bars.
    • And I would be utterly remiss without mentioning the revolutionary effects of the original Matrix film, especially Neo's avoiding the Agent's bullets on the rooftop. Also one effect wasn't as revolutionary but still had tremendous impact: Neo's awakening into the real world. Creepy, and powerful.
  17. Scott_MacD

    Scott_MacD Supporting Actor

    May 13, 2001
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    That's very true, mate. Jackson's LOTR is magnificent filmmaking of the highest order. But the question was asking about visual effects, I limited myself to that parameter.

    I would have PMed, but I couldnt.
  18. david_shy

    david_shy Agent

    Dec 30, 2003
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    for me the 1st scene with ED-209 in RoboCop

    unsubtle, I know...stopmotion rules
  19. Chuck Mayer

    Chuck Mayer Lead Actor

    Aug 6, 2001
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    Northern Virginia
    Real Name:
    Chuck Mayer
    I myself enjoy special effects. I enjoy the technical aspects, and more importantly, the artistic endpoint of the effect itself. Three is very limiting, but I'll do my best, and then name a bunch more.

    Your Top 3 Special Effects Sequences? RECENT

    1) T-1000 at Pescadero. Multiple types of effects were used, but this sequence showcased quite a few of the jaw-dropping shots T2 heralded. My favorite is the shot of the T-1000 pouring into the destroyed elevator, and then raising up.

    2) T-Rex attack sequence. Often named in here, this was the ACTUAL birth of CG as a real tool, not a niche tool, in the hands of a brilliant director and team. It's not the most important effects sequence in the golden age of affects, but it's the most complete.

    1 and 2 were easy. The next few are not nearly so easy.

    3*) The Mines of Moria, specifically the Cave Troll battle. While I loved the Balrog, he was easier to cheat than the Troll.

    3*) Power Plant speech by Morpheus in The Matrix. Just brilliant in terms of storytelling, visuals, and world-building. Not as revolutionary as bullet-time, but incredible in design.

    3*) Ode to the Titanic - this was the shortname for the shot of the passover of the Titanic going to sea. While WETA really shined in the combination of multiple techniques, this film really pushed that technology to the point where Bigatures became the answer. One of the most lovely shots I've seen in any film.

    3*) Air Force One hitting the ocean...oh wait, that sucked. I can't believe that was OKed. Terrible shot at the end of the film...totally unbelievable.

    Movies with Special Effects? RECENT

    1) No contest. T2 was the most mind-blowing, balls-to-the-wall effects/action extravaganza put to film, and actually placed in a film truly worthy of them. I still feel Jim Cameron is the pre-eminent effects director working today (which is saying a lot). When he makes a film, he PUSHES the technology farther than anyone thinks it can go. The other great effects guys push it to the limit.

    2) Lord of the Rings: Return of the King/The Matrix Revolutions - a cheap tie between two films received very differently, but both were the most complete and ambitious effects films I've ever seen. I lean towards ROTK because it was more organic, but both were eye-candy beyond anything we've ever seen. They get this high on sheer content and quality.

    3) Jurassic Park. Enough said.

    4) Titanic. Cutting edge in ways that aren't acknowledged as much as they should be.

    5) Dana mentioned Starship Troopers, which looks good today in comparison, even though it was made almost 8 years ago.

    I skewed recent, but there are too many classic films to name.

    In short, I still hold T2 as the golden standard. And I agree that technically, Gollum is the single most impressive effect I've seen.

    Take care,
  20. JonZ

    JonZ Lead Actor

    Dec 28, 1998
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    - The Millenium Falcon manuevering thru the asteroid field in Empire Strikes Back

    - First appearance of T Rex in Jurrasic Park

    - Superman:When he lifts the fault repairing the ground. Amazing that was done in 1977.

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