Star Wars. Visit www.i-reviewmovies.com It was a groundbreaking scene back in 1977...ah, yes I remember it well, my daughter Kelly was born that year. Along with her was born the scene most fans picked as the number one SFX scene of all time. The opening scene from STAR WARS, starring Harrison Ford, has been voted the best special effect in cinema history. The first glimpse of the colossal Imperial Star Destroyer still has film fans awe-struck nearly 30 years after it was first seen. In a galaxy far, far away, a rebel ship races into the distance pursued by blasts of laser fire. Then its pursuer comes into view, virtually filling the entire screen. It was a ship so vast that it took moviegoers' breath away when the film first hit the big screen.

Star Wars. Visit www.i-reviewmovies.com The 1977 classic, now renamed by George Lucas as STAR WARS: EPISODE IV-A NEW HOPE, beat competition from state-of-the-art modern movies including The Lord of the Rings trilogy and The Matrix. It topped a poll conducted by SFX magazine to find the greatest ever special effect. Star Wars winning the best special effects sequence ever shows just how significant the film is to movie fans," said SFX editor Dave Golder. This film was crucial at the time as it brought about the resurrection of science fiction films that had gone out of popularity after the Macarthy era and the early sixties. “It was the Big Bang of modern special effects, redefining the way space ships should look on the big screen.”

Most of the special effects in the top 10 were from older films.

King Kong. Visit www.i-reviewmovies.com The fantastic climax of 1933 classic KING KONG, in which the giant ape climbs the newly constructed Empire State Building with the beautiful Fay Wray in hand, was second. After climbing to the top, Kong fought off machine gunning bi-planes while holding on to the antenna at the top of the building, before falling 102 storeys to his death. Fay Wray who died in 2004 was best known for this role.

John Carpenter's The Thing. Visit www.i-reviewmovies.com Fans picked for third was the gruesome moment in John Carpenter's THE THING (1982 remake) in which a severed head sprouts spider's legs. This films special effects were stomach churning from beginning to end, but, viewers were really grossed out when a guy's head rips itself off his body and pulls itself along the floor by its tongue, then sprouts legs and scurries away.

Jason & THe Argonauts. Visit www.i-reviewmovies.com My personal favourite which left me awestruck as young teenager was the skeleton fight sequence from 1963 film JASON AND THE ARGONAUTS. Animated in stop motion by the great, legendary Ray Harryhausen it remains ground-breaking for its day. Harryhausen himself considers this film his best ever. The skeleton scenes were only one of the eye-boggling stop motion effects. The skeleton scene took four months to produce and lasted for all of three minutes on the screen. Heck, this was the movie that started me playing around with stop motion with my little 8mm projector that my father owned at the time. Patience, not being my greatest virtue, made this a very short term career, but it was fun while it lasted. JASON AND THE ARGONAUTS came in fourth.

Terminator 2. Visit www.i-reviewmovies.com Arnold Schwarzenegger’s shift-shaping, liquid metal cyborg nemesis T-1000 from TERMINATOR 2: JUDGEMENT DAY, played by Robert Patrick, came in fifth. The cyborg was able to walk through doors, reform itself after being frozen and shattered. Truly wierd was the scene where a shotgun blast blue Patrick's face into two pieces of grey liquid material. Did bullets stop it...no...it stillwent after Arnold. Fans could not help but admire this film.

Forbidden Planet. Visit www.i-reviewmovies.com Probably my favourite sci-fi film, next to BLADE RUNNER, was the classic FORBIDDEN PLANET of 1956. The Krell machinery was picked as the sixth greatest special effect of all time. If you haven't seen thi movie well you should. The Krell were the original inhabitants of the planet Altair 4, the forth planet from its sun. The machinery they left behind covered miles and miles of a vast underground. Shafts seemed to be bottomless and powered by tens of thousands of powerful futuristic turbines. These machines kept the planet alive well after its inhabitants destroyed one another with the power from the ID.

Lord Of The Ring. Visit www.i-reviewmovies.com Andy Serkas should have won an academy award for his protrayl of Gollum from the LORD OF THE RINGS trilogy. The computer-generated character based on British actor Andy Serkis, was seventh. The Hobbit gone bad was acted out and then the sfx people translated it to the creature on the screen who ended up looking so real it was darn right spooky.

The Matrix. Visit www.i-reviewmovies.com THE MATRIX (1999) “bullet time” effect, in which time appears to slow, came eighth. The slo-mo, vapour trail bullet effect was enough to make Keannu Reeves reach deep into his bag of acting tricks and utter that now famous line that only he could say properly..."Whoa." This film prbably saved his career many times over.

Alien. Visit www.i-reviewmovies.com Who could ever forget the chest bursting scene in the absolutely terrifying original ALIEN movie of 1979. This famous scene in which an Alien bursts out of John Hurt’s chest came in ninth. This was Hollywoods version of the worst case of indigestion ever. The look on Veronica Cartwright's face made the scene even more memorable.

Spider-Man 2. Visit www.i-reviewmovies.com The most recent film to make the list was last year’s SPIDER-MAN 2, in which Spidey fought evil Doctor Octavius (Doc Ock) aboard a speeding train. The scene started with a fight at the top of a skyscrapper and ends on an elevated subway track. Spider-Man not only had to save people thrown off the train with his webbing but he tried to do the old standby Superman trick to stop trains, but fails and has to once again use vast quantities of webbing to stop the train from going off the end of the track saving everyone aboard the train before Doc Ock captures the exhausted super hero. This was a superb breath taking scene that will be remmebered for a long time by fans of special effects movies came in tenth.

The predominance of older films comes as no surprise to editor, Golder. “I’m not at all surprised that film fans are rejecting the modern reliance on CGI (computer-generated imagery) for special effects,” he said.
“Film fans aren’t against progress and there are many occasions in films like Jurassic Park and Lord of the Rings where CGI really gives a new dimension you just couldn’t bring with traditional methods.
“On the other hand, there is nothing as satisfying in seeing a film with a massive special effects bill like the recent Van Helsing being thrashed by a 70-year-old stuffed gorilla.” Yes a metal and fur minature gorilla moved with great patience and skill in the hands of Willis O'Brien, a true master of the SFX.

I recommend that all of you out there take the time to see each one of these films. They are available at all video stores in most formats, so take the time and see these timeless treasures, they deserve your admiration.

Top ten Film Special Effects

1 Star Wars - opening shot (1977)
2 King Kong - ending (1933)
3 The Thing - spider head (1982)
4 Jason and the Argonauts - skeletons fighting (1963)
5 Terminator 2: Judgment Day - the T-1000 (1991)
6 Forbidden Planet - Krell machinery (1956)
7 The Lord of the Rings trilogy - Gollum (2001-2003)
8 The Matrix - bullet-time scenes (1999)
9 Alien - John Hurt chest burster scene (1979)
10 Spider-Man 2 - train fight between Spiderman and Dr Octopus (2004)

The February issue of SFX magazine is on sale from January 19, 2005

See you at the movies;
Vincent Marchesano