Monday, July 26, 2010

The Thrill is in the Chase

Great chase scenes in movies are, by and large, pretty established. You ask someone what their favorite chase scenes are and they'll likely mention the original Gone in 60 Seconds, Bullitt, or my personal favorite, The Great Chase from The Blues Brothers.

So where does that leave humanity? Where's the fun in writing about that? I would bet money that if someone asked you right now to list the best chases your list would look a lot like this one.

I stumbled upon a healthy bit of revelation this afternoon, and I will take it upon myself to compile a list of my favorite chase scenes, omitting the popular choices. I will do my best to stay away from car chases, but there are no guarantees. Videos will be provided if available. Here we go.

7.) Pirates of the Caribbean - The Curse of the Black Pearl, 2003

- This is about as non-traditional a chase scene as I could find, and it pulls double duty as being one of my favorites. Tension is built up successfully as our heroes desperately try and get away from the pirates. Unique on this list because it is rather slow and plodding because they are ships and not people running, it is filmed in such a way as to make the chase thrilling. The music is a big help, as I feel this was one of the best scored movies of all time. It also helps to have the great Geoffrey Rush as the villain the heroes are trying to flee from too.

6.) Jurassic Park, 1993

Please excuse the poor video, it is the only one I could find
- Yes, this is technically a 'car' chase, but how many car chases exist where the car is quite literally "the prey" and the predator is a Tyrannosaurus Rex? This is one of the most exhilarating parts of an already exhilarating movie and is wrapped up nicely with a snappy one-liner from everyone's favorite movie scientist, Jeff Goldblum.

Have fun trying to use the bathroom again

5.) Casino Royale, 2006

- The foot chase to end all foot chases, this one pits James Bond (Daniel Craig) against free-running bomb-maker Mollaka (S├ębastien Foucan) in a race that goes up cranes, through construction yards, and climaxes in a shootout in an embassy. Fun fact, S├ębastien Foucan ran so much faster than Daniel Craig that they would have to keep stopping because he was falling too far behind for the shots.

4.) Vertigo, 1958

- An oldie, but no less thrilling as a result, Hitchcock's Vertigo chase is the very first scene after the memorable credits and throws the audience right into the middle of two cops pursuing a criminal on a rooftop. We never find out who the guy is, but instead we follow Scottie as Hitchcock introduces the world to the dolly zoom visual effect. Two main questions I've always had, 1) If the cop is so willing to shoot the perp, why not just shoot him as he's climbing up the ladder at the beginning of the video? 2) How does Scottie get off that rooftop?

3.) The Evil Dead II, 1987

- This is technically two chases, but whatever. I absolutely love the way Sam Raimi films these point-of-view chases. The audience is the monster that Bruce Campbell's chin is running from, and the actual evil is never seen. We follow Ash, our hero, through the forest, in the house, through, over, and around doors and his car, and the whole time we're on the edge of our seats. I can't sing this movie's praises enough, truly a great chase in a great film.

2.) Heat, 1995

(Note: Embedding has been disabled for this clip, so all I can do is link it for you. Video can be found here)

- Holy shit, the street shootout from Heat? Awesome. Widely considered to be one of the greatest action scenes ever filmed, Michael Mann filmed this scene with the help of God himself (Thor was the sound guy) and graced us mere mortals with it in his classic film about Robert De Niro and Val Kilmer's bad hair going up against Al Pacino's hoo-ah.

I don't think Pacino nor the guns are nearly as loud as they should be in this movie

1.) Raiders of the Lost Ark, 1981

- Sorry I can't find a video online, but I'm pretty sure everyone knows what I'm talking about anyways. This truck chase is what I think of when I try and picture how someone could possibly film the word "adventure." Nazis? Check. Horse chasing truck? Check. Gunfire, fistfights, and ramming cars? Oh yeah, checks all over the place. This gets the number one spot on my alternative list for being the perfect pairing of music and action and pacing. Think about it: we just got done seeing a great fight scene at the airplane, and then Spielberg throws us right back into the fray with this chase. We can't even catch our breath and Indy gets up to run down a truck. Awesome scene in an awesome movie.

Monday, July 12, 2010

"It Was An Improbable Romance..."

If there's one thing I really don't like, its when people assume they know what's best for me. I mean, really, how could you? Worse than that however is when inanimate objects presume to know what's best for me.

Sunday, July 4, 2010

Saving the Day

You see them every so often. A plucky group of diverse heroes get together and set out to save the world from total annihilation. At first, the differences between the protagonists lead to fighting and conflict. A leader steps in and shows them that, even though they may not like each other, the group must function together in order for the world to survive. Together, they begin to see past their differences and start to work together. They begin to trust one another, the attractive female lead enjoys a little sexual tension with the attractive male lead, and there may quite possibly be a montage of some sort. Then, tragedy strikes our band of heroes and they are at their lowest point, seemingly against insurmountable obstacles. Perhaps a key piece of their ultimate weapon doesn't work. Or maybe the old sage that has taken our heroes under his wing dies. Or perhaps one of the team members walks out, forsaking the people when they need him/her the most. Just when it seems like all hope is lost, the team gets their act together, the member that walked out returns, or they remember some old sage advice from the old sage and that is the key to get everything running smoothly and everyone working together. They overcome all of the odds stacked against them and triumph over the bad guys and save the world. The attractive female lead reveals her true feelings for the attractive male lead, because it would diminish the attractive male lead's level of macho if he showed his feelings for her. The sun sets, the protagonists prevail, the world is saved...

Saturday, July 3, 2010

I Hate You, Science and Engineering Library

3:00 AM: I am one of the last people here on the fourth floor of the SEL. I am open to the possibility that I have died and that this is hell. All of the signs are there: nobody speaks; everyone is slaving away; and for some reason I am nearly overwhelmed with feelings of inadequacy. I can tell that this is not Hell though for one glorious fact.

There are no spiders.

3:45 AM: I can't help but look over my shoulder every few minutes. Someone is watching me that doesn't want me to know about it. You're clever SEL, like that house from Amityville Horror. You're a Panopticon of terrible surprises and horrors as yet unimagined.

The world outside of the walls of this prison does not seem real anymore. Looking out the window is like looking from the porthole of a submarine out onto some inhospitable, strange and foreign land. I would be afraid of identifying too closely with this abomination if it weren't for the hope that when the sun rises this phantasm would disappear and fade from the face of the Earth. It is almost fitting that the windows are semi-reflective, causing me to be reminded of my ghastly fate every time I look to my right.