One of the things I have always loved about film is its ability to transport you someone you never dreamed you could have gone. When audiences first saw the space shots in 2001: A Space Odyssey. When the Star Destroyer came into frame in the original Star Wars. These are moments of awe that we remember as fondly as events that actually happened to us. So I thought I would revisit 10 of my favorite jaw dropping moments, see if you remember having the same reaction. These are no particular order; I would have an aneurism if I had to rank them.
10. The T-Rex attack in Jurassic Park. Yes the first dinosaur we see is astounding but it wasn’t until the T-Rex escaped its paddock that I felt my heart beating out of my chest. The brilliant work of Stan Winston and the genius of Spielberg made one of the most terrifying scenes in film history.
9. The first shots of Spartan’s fighting in 300. We marvelled at the whole look of the film from the first frame, but once the Spartans laid into their enemies in Zach Snyder’s slow/fast combat style, I leaned over to my friend sitting next to me and uttered “The Spartans are badass.” It was combat perfected in a way that was fresh and exciting.
8. The train crash in Super 8. I love the movie as a whole but when that train wreck happened it put all train wrecks up to that point in film history to shame. I was always impressed with the wreck in The Fugitive, which is still great, but J.J. Abram’s children in peril combined with the terribly high speed of the train made for a breathtaking scene that left grip marks in your armrest.
7. Hit Girl’s hallway assault in Kick Ass. I thought from the trailers that Kick Ass looked pretty lame. I am glad I was wrong. I thoroughly enjoyed the twisted superhero tale and all the action up to Hit Girls assault was phenomenal, but when a little girl in a purple costume unleashes more violent ass kicking than any full grown man could muster, consider me blown away. Just a beautifully edited and staged fight scene that is still waiting to be topped.
6. Eric Bana’s one shot fight in Hanna. Hanna was a surprise gem from 2011 and an awesome film all around. But I had to stop the movie at home and rewind to really take in the one shot fight scene with Eric Bana taking down a group of thugs. The camera circling the fight, the carefully choreographed violence and making it all look natural left me stunned and impressed.
5. The knife fight from the finale of The Man from Nowhere. Not a lot of people saw this excellent action thriller from South Korea, but it should be sought out and watched. Lead actor Bin Won is a dark brooding ex-special agent that must rescue his neighbour’s daughter from drug traffickers. After an already extended shootout and fight scene, Bin Won takes on any remaining baddies in a room with only a knife and it is really something to see. Fluid, natural and brilliantly staged.
4. The hammer fight from Oldboy. Speaking of brilliantly staged, if you haven’t seen Chan-wook Park’s amazing Oldboy, do yourself a favor and watch it soon before Spike Lee’s remake comes out. A brilliant thriller with one of the best performances by any actor ever, Choi Min-shik’s portrayal of the mysteriously imprisoned then released after 15 years Oh Dae-Su is one for the ages and should not be missed. In one scene, Oh Dae-Su takes on a seemingly endless string of thugs in a narrow hallway armed mainly with a hammer. The scene’s highlight is one long side shot of the action happening that has to be seen to be believed.
3. The airplane rescue from Superman Returns. I love Bryan Singer and I loved Superman Returns. Were there other things I would have liked to see in the film? Yes. But I still love it and its heartfelt tribute to the Christopher Reeve Superman films. The first action scene in the film is Superman’s triumphant return after years away as he saves a malfunctioning space shuttle and an airliner that carries Lois Lane as it plummets to a baseball stadium. The scene is realistic and believable and made you believe in Superman once again. It was taking advantage of showing us a Superman we never had the technology to see before. Stellar.
2. The troll battle in the Mines of Moria in Fellowship of the Ring. When I sat down in the theatre for the first film in Peter Jackson’s Lord of the Rings trilogy, I wasn’t sure what to expect. I had seen pretty much every fantasy medieval film in the past and didn’t know how this would stack up. Turns out it redefined fantasy and filmmaking altogether. The first real glimpse of what Jackson could accomplish was the Troll scene while the Fellowship were in the Mines of Moria. The sweeping camera flying all around the room, the thundering sound of the troll as it made every step and the heroic efforts of our heroes all made for an unforgettable introduction to the action in the world of Jackson’s Middle Earth.
1. Caesar speaking “No” in Rise of the Planet of the Apes. As the most recent entry on my list, I was very impressed and taken with Rise of the Planet of the Apes. To take such a loved series and give it a genuinely fresh start, then up the ante by making all the apes CG was a bold move on the part of Rupert Wyatt and his team. The results were incredible and believable with what I think should be an Oscar worthy motion capture performance by Andy Serkis. Caesar was a living breathing character that you cared deeply for and the performance shone right through the CG exterior. But through all the drama and great moments in the film, the best was when Caesar stands up against the humans and utters the first word he has ever spoken, no. It is guttural, primal and emotional and made for a very powerful moment that made the hair on the back of my neck stand up.