Edge of your Seat Excitement
The other night Jurassic Park 1 was on HBO. While watching the T-Rex attack scene I was once again riveted by the masterful sequence. The dinosaur puppet, the sound effects and sound design, the gradual build-up to the attack with the water ripples, as well as the editing all made for edge of the seat excitement. I recall sitting in the theater in Greenwich Village the Summer of 1993 with a packed house, all waiting for this scene to end so we could take a collective breath. This was great filmmaking.
Also, I don't think there was suspenseful music added to this scene - the dinosaur's howl and kids screaming was enough to remind us this was suspenseful. Current filmmakers seem to forget that the audience knows when something is suspenseful or dramatic, and include too much music.
So what are your fave moments in films in which you were so engaged in the film you forget to breathe?
in the search for such excitement I went to see Terminator Salvation. In the parlance of the web, this effort equals "excitement fail."
The effects were cool but in 2009 effects should be cool but as I have stated time and again effects cannot carry a movie. The acting was pretty bad, the exposition was too much and the story seemed lÍke an effort to kick off a new set of sequels. While the dialogue included numerous references to T1 and T2 they actually distracted from the experience, remind the viewers that this was a continuation of T2. It seems the writers from the generally disliked T3 are back for T4, so go figure.
So far the excitement factor of Summer movies is 0 for 2. Will Transformers 2 up the ante or will it be just another attempt to make money at the expense of watchability? Tune in next time, same Cow channel, same Cow time...
The aerial combat scenes in "Wings" (1927). "Top Gun" is pretty good, but not in the same ballpark. In "Wings" the camera is pointing straight into the face of the pilot, with the machine guns blazing away on both sides of him. Only a WWI aerial combat movie could look like this, and Wellman (who was a pilot for the French in that war) really stages these scenes like no other filmmaker has ever even tried to. BTW, "Wings" was the first film to win the Oscar for best picture.
The naval battle sequences in "In Harm's Way" (1965). Beautifully staged. Beautifully composed. Beautifully photographed. You see the cruiser literally being blown to pieces in the final combat sequence. IMO, this is one of the two best naval combat sequences ever filmed.
Bringing us to the other of those two- "Captain Horatio Hornblower" (1951). Gregory Peck yells "Fire as they bear!", the cannon go off in sequence, the thrill is immediate!
The entire third act in "Wait Until Dark" (1967). Alan Arkin (yes, Alan Arkin) may be the creepiest movie villain of all time.
"Psycho" (1960). Not just the shower scene. The whole third act.
The battle sequence in "Zulu" (1964). The pacing draws you in and gradually builds each sequence to a frenzy. Also, fabulous sound editing.
Post production is not an afterthought!