Here are the REEL BRIEF 2015 nominees in the “Visual Effects” category:
We remember the excitement of Jurassic Park in 1993, when dinosaurs came roaring to life on-screen. Ripples of water pulsated inside a plastic cup resting on a dashboard. With every step from an escaped T-Rex, Jurassic Park audiences squirmed in their theater seats watching and waiting until a portion of a goat lands on the sunroof of a parked vehicle. Director Colin Trevorrow magnificently brings velociraptor, I-Rex and pterodactyl animals to life, a la Spielberg, in Jurassic World. The storyline and character development are the first casualties of the Indominus Rex rampage–but through no fault of the visual effects. Am I really the only one who wanted the Aunt Claire (Bryce Dallas Howard) character to be used as dinosaur chum on the island? Didn’t think so. In fact, by the film’s midpoint I was openly rooting for the dinosaurs to achieve all-out victory on the remote Costa Rican island. Thankfully, a “tyrant lizard” stomps up to find a dinosaur solution to the dinosaur problem. But I digress. This film’s only redeeming quality–and true stars–are the impressive dinosaurs themselves.
Mad Max Fury Road
This year’s growing anticipation and buzz surrounding writer-director George Miller’s return to lead the fourth installment of his “Mad Max” series was palpable and on a level only attained by one other 2015 cult classic…this week’s release of “Star Wars: The Force Awakens”. In fact, many might argue that Miller’s “Mad Max: Fury Road” dwarfs J.J. Abrams’ “The Force Awakens” since it’s been 30 years since Max Rockatansky roamed the Australian post-apocalypse Outback desert on film. Regardless, marvel at the masterful visual effects:
“Max Mad Fury Road” begins with the best opening sequence in 2015. After a quick (although too short) narration by Tom Hardy as Mad Max, an all-out suspense thriller ensues for the next fifteen minutes. The rest? Meh.
Star Wars: The Force Awakens
The Force is back…big time! And stronger than ever!
In order to sell this movie to viewers, Director Ridley Scott (“Alien”, 1979) had to sell us Mars. That it looked and felt right. And once again the Scott created an impressive outer space saga. Based upon the first published novel by American Andy Weir in 2011, “The Martian” is a fascinating Petri dish study into one’s will to survive. The nucleus to this sci-fi journey is the combing of the Red Planet of Mars for anything to extend life and hope to one astronaut left behind. The visual effects sold moviegoers on The Red Planet and “The Martian”; an intense, powerful scientific story told from 90 million miles away using a complex blend of state-of-the-art technology, archaic means of communications and orbiting remote satellites.
The biggest stars in “The Walk” are the 1,350-foot tall siblings standing 140-feet from each other along downtown Manhattan. This true balancing act follows the famous French high-wire artist Phillipe Petit, as the former street performer attempts to fulfill his life-long dream to walk between the Twin Towers of the World Trade Center in 1974. Academy Award-winning director Robert Zemeckis (“Forrest Gump”) magnificently captures the allure and dangers associated with Petit’s high-wire attempt to bridge the two massive buildings. The intense and realistic computer-generated imagery (CGI) will push viewers further into the safety of their theater seats as “The Walk” attempts to clear the cinematography bar set by the weightless “Gravity” in 2013. In fact, the visual effects really do carry this Joseph Gordon-Levitt film throughout.
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