OF THE 21ST CENTURY
Copyright 2001 www.variety.com
[ December 18th 2001 ]
is an increasingly popular saying in the film
industry - SFX sells. Cinema audiences are becoming
more demanding in what they want to see on the
big screen. As a result, special effects (SFX)
have now taken on a much greater importance.
is not to say that it has overtaken the plot as
the most crucial part of a film. A SFX spectacular
will still fail if the basic plot line is a dud.
But SFX does sell and is creeping into the type
of films you would not normally associate with
such electronic wizardry. Notting Hill is a prime
example. Do you remember the scene featuring Hugh
Grant strolling down the Portobello Road through
a year of changing seasons?
films and scenes that captured the imagination
of cinema goers in recent years include giving
Tom Cruise's face to Dougray Scott in M:I-2, or
the headlesshorseman who marauded his way through
Sleepy Hollow. Films that relied almost totally
on SFX include The Mummy Returns, Tomb Raider,
Harry Potter and the Philosopher's Stone, Blade
2 and Resident Evil.
likes of Sony Imageworks, Digital Domain, Industrial
Light + Magic and the Computer Film Company are
all involved in ground-breaking SFX projects.
They are creating the type of fantasy worlds George
Lucas pioneered with his Star Wars films and which
have seemingly enjoyed a new lease of life this
year withthe release of Harry Potter, Lord of
the Rings and to a lesser extent the visual escapism
of Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon and Moulin Rouge.
it is the first of the trilogy adapted from JRR
Tolkien's books that looks the most likely to
topple Star Wars from the top of the most pundits'
lists of all-time fantasy and SFX movies.
Kennedy, of film magazine Empire, believes the
first in the trilogy is the best fantasy film
ever made and is only likely to be topped by the
next two in the series. "Fellowhip of the Ring
is impeccably cast and constructed with both care
and passion, this is a labour of love that never
feels laboured," he added. "It is a genre movie
and it's not perfect but it is a perfect genre
certainly managed to out-hype the Harry Potter
film, which has seen people flocking to the cinema
since its first release. Billboards, newspapers,
magazines and shops are full of anything and everything
to do with the celluloid adaptation of Tolkien's
classic story. It is a far cry from previous attempts
to turn fantasy classics into blockbuster films.
Krull is regarded as a wasted opportunity, while
the likes of ArnoldSchwarzenegger's Conan The
Barbarian and the Jim Henson-directed Labyrinth,
also failed to satisfy. Ridley Scott's Legend
is the prime example of an SFX spectacular let
down by a feeble plot.
this year, another attempt at making fantastic
fantasy stumbled with a film version of the role-playing
game Dungeons and Dragons. Harry Potter and Lord
of the Rings have succeeded where these have failed,however,
with the Tolkien epic looking likely to provide
the benchmark for years to come. Some websites
devoted to the film and the books are polling
subscribers about how many times they are likely
to watch the film.
consensus seems to be between five and eight viewings,
although quite a few diehards are confident of
making 20 or more visits to the cinema. "It's
a must-see event movie subject to repeat viewing
by the book's most ardent devotees," says Emmanuel
Levy, reviewer at www.screendaily.co.uk.
rejuvenation of the sword and sorcery flick isn't
just down to good source material. The terrorist
attacks of September 11 changed the needs of film-goers.
Films like Ridley Scott's violent war film Black
Hawk Down were put back to make way for more easy-going
two films have even helped each other achieve
success. While they were initially thought of
as being in competition, discussion and comparison
of the wizardly adventures has helped raise their
profiles even more.