GENERAL DISCUSSIONS

Best Sci Fi Effects sequence

POSTED BY: MILFORD
UPDATED: Tuesday, November 22, 2022 08:30
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Monday, March 27, 2006 5:48 PM

MILFORD


I'm a longtime fan of special effects. As a kid, I thought I'd practice for my future job at Industrial Light and Magic by setting my garage on fire in order to properly fun my remote control cars through in order to produce Back to the Future flaming tire tracks (laquer works the best!). Anyhoo, I was thinking about my favorite sequences and I've decided that of every film or TV show I've seen, which are legion because they are many, the best is:

The reaver chase scene from the pilot. The reaver ship was unbelieveable, and the whole thing is about as perfect as it can be. I love the shot of the reavers behind Serenity when Serenity isn't in focus until it's in the foreground. But my favorite part of my favorite scene is the shot from the back of Serenity when they go for full burn in atmo. The explosion is great (most people would have given you some ridiculous shot from far away that showed it in fancy colors and other crap, not our guys). It looks so real. And my favorite detail is the vibrating panel on the right of Serenity's engine. That combined with the sound effects of the air seeming to pass through the simulated mic creates such a real effect that it still gets to me after tons of viewings.

How bout you guys? Any of you have faves from this show, or any other show for that matter.

For the record, my second favorite is the raptor scene in Jurassic Park in the kitchen. It's the only time EVER I've been unable to notice a world of difference between a CGI element in a shot with a real person. Pristine.

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Monday, March 27, 2006 7:19 PM

SADLITTLEKING


Best effect in Serenity
That whole space battle between the Alliance and Reavers while Serenity was weaving through the chaos.

Best effect in Firefly
Book's unbound hair. That had to be CG. It was just too unreal. And scary. First time I saw it, I ran and hid....like River. "Too much hair."

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Monday, March 27, 2006 7:20 PM

LEGOLAD


Oh, man... so many choices. Jurassic Park sticks out in my mind too, probably because it was so far ahead of everything that had come before it. The shot I remember as particularly jaw-dropping was your first full view of the T-Rex, as it steps over the fence into the road above the jeeps, and lets out that huge roar. Still awesome over a decade later.

The Balrog in Lord of the Rings also blew me away (another great dramatic entrance), along with basically anything to do with Gollum, of course. His facial expressions are what got me; they're just too real. The eyes... man, the eyes... Gollum has to be the single greatest special effects accomplishment, for being able to convey that much emotion that realistically.

If we're talking about Firefly, well, the quality is so consistent, it's hard to pick a favourite sequence. I loved the chase scene in The Message (first time we really got to see what Serenity was capable of when put to the test), and just the whole look of Beleraphon in Trash... the endless ocean, the floating cities, the trash-bots... all great stuff. In the movie, it was just fantastic seeing Serenity in that much detail; all the shots panning around the ship, seeing the people through the windshield... lovely. That first shot after the prologue that pans back from the logo and shows us the whole ship, with the great slow music... that's probably my single favourite shot in all of the series/movie. Just gorgeous. Serenity's never looked so pretty.

"We need a hood ornament."

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Monday, March 27, 2006 7:30 PM

SADLITTLEKING


Oh wait, I forgot we're not just talking about Serenifly here.

Some of my favorite effects of all time are in The Matrix. Bullet-time, baby!

Of course Jurassic Park is on my list. Love those Raptors. And the fight at the end between the T-Rex and Raptors was great. A grin comes to my face everytime I see that T-Rex roar in victory with the banner "When Dinosaurs Ruled the Earth" floating down around him. Nice touch.

Also, Lord of the Rings was incredible. I can't wait to see what those guys do with the Halo movie.

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Monday, March 27, 2006 7:37 PM

BLUEEYEDBRIGADIER


Best sci-fi FX sequence huh? Hmm...hard thing to argue cuz I have a few favourites. Have to say my top choices are:

1. (Tie) Reaver vs. Alliance ship battle from "Serenity"/Battle of Coruscant from ROTS -- both battles knocked my socks off...and the former cost a whole lot less! Hell, I would be surprised if the entire budget for the Coruscant battle wasn't the same as "Serenity"'s entire budget!

2. First full 'mech battle from "RobotJox" -- admittedly a rather cheesy film, but the effects for the time just rocked! Especially when one considers the fact that the only other place you could possibly see this kind of stuff was on computer (not sure if MechWarrior 1 was out for PCs yet in 1990). probably the last time stop-motion animation was ever used for a film that wasn't completely animated (i.e. "Nightmare Before Christmas," the Wallace & Grommit series")

3. The "Death Blossom" defence attack from "The Last Starfighter" -- another rather cheesy 80's sci-fi film, but I still think the effects are rather cool. Especially when the GunStar goes postal during Death Blossom mode.....screw an X-Wing! I want one of those puppies!

So...you can see how I generally lean in being impressed. Cheesy FX or mindblowing CGI....no middle ground

Literature has shown us some of humanity's greatest achievements; history, some of our greatest failures -- Alun Lewis

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Tuesday, March 28, 2006 3:22 AM

JONESTEIN


Wow, that's a tough one to answer, so I'll just start with my current favorites, both from the the BDM:

* The opening of the BDM(after the teaser) with the beautiful, mournful music dramatically building as Serenity gracefully slipped into orbit; the thrusters booming as she hit atmo with the signature "twangy" music joining the great orchestral theme as we pan around the incredible detail of our favorite 10th crew member...it was just pure magic. Wish I'd been a Browncoat before the BDM hit theaters...I can only imagine how pre-BDM Browncoats were moved during that inspired opening.

* The closing of the BDM, after Mal's great "first rule of flying" bit with River, we leave the cockpit to see Serenity blazing through and emerging from the storm, all the while accompanied by more beautiful, inspiring music. The whole scene, from Mal's speech to Serenity bursting through the storm clouds was just incredibly symbolic and beautifully done.

* If I had to pick something non-Serenity/Firefly, I'd have to go with about any scene from "The Matrix", it was pretty incredible in the FX department.

* "Sky Captain" was pretty damn stunning with the green-screen FX, but unfortunately was a crappy movie, IMHO.

* And of course "The Ring" (more horror than sci-fi, sorry) had some pretty disturbing effects, and if a movie's FX manage to disturb me that much they must be doing something right.

-Jonestein
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Tuesday, March 28, 2006 3:34 AM

KUANGZHEDE


I was always impressed with the scene from 5th element where she escapes from the "regenerator" room and makes it outside the building. I was blown away by the future scope and size of the city...real eye candy...and so was the city.




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Tuesday, March 28, 2006 3:43 AM

JONESTEIN


Quote:

Originally posted by KuangZheDe:
I was always impressed with the scene from 5th element where she escapes from the "regenerator" room and makes it outside the building. I was blown away by the future scope and size of the city...real eye candy...and so was the city.



Wow, forgot about "The Fifth Element", which is surprising since it made my top ten sci-fi movie list in another thread. That was an awesome scene.

BTW, love your sig, KZD...

-Jonestein
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Tuesday, March 28, 2006 3:43 AM

GIXXER


I like the Balrog too.

The bit that gets me is the very long shot as it and Gandalf are falling. The glow grows and fades.

Tiny quiet moment of magic.

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Tuesday, March 28, 2006 3:52 AM

PIZMOBEACH

... fully loaded, safety off...


Quote:

Originally posted by Jonestein:
...The opening of the BDM(after the teaser) with the beautiful, mournful music dramatically building as Serenity gracefully slipped into orbit; the thrusters booming as she hit atmo with the signature "twangy" music joining the great orchestral theme as we pan around the incredible detail of our favorite 10th crew member...it was just pure magic. Wish I'd been a Browncoat before the BDM hit theaters...I can only imagine how pre-BDM Browncoats were moved during that inspired opening.



That is a serious keeper. And it's topped off in true JW style with the buffer panel blowing off and we get some funny.

My favorite sequence is from LOTR, Balin's tomb, director's cut. It's the first time we get to see the whole Fellowship fight together. The suspenseful build up, "They have a cave troll," the door knocking down, the editing and pace, and that scene stealing Cave Troll - wow, great stuff.


Scifi movie music + Firefly dialogue clips, 24 hours a day - http://www.scifiradio.net

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Tuesday, March 28, 2006 4:09 AM

CHRISISALL


I'm an FX junkie. Here's a short list of various types.

Models:
Star Trek TMP- pretty much any spaceship shot.
Empire Strikes Back- asteroid field.

Matte paintings:
Logan's Run- Overgrown Washington, still the most impressive non-cgi stuff ever.

Physical effects:
Firestarter- awsome fire work, all practically executed.
Blade Runner- nice spinners.

CGI:
LOTR- excellent integration w/live shots.
Serenity/ New BSG- almost anything from our pals at Zoic.

Special Chrisisall

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Tuesday, March 28, 2006 4:24 AM

MILFORD


Wow, you guys came up with some good ones. I thought aobut putting the Matrix in there too. That first scene of bullet time with Trinity at the beginning was mind blowing. However, the effects in the sequels were rather irritating. The burly battle between Neo and Smith was interesting to look at, but it was so obviously fake that I felt like I was watching a cartoon instead of a film. To me that's not that great of an effect.

CHRISISALL's comment about matte paintings reminded me of one of my faves, Bespin from Empire Strikes Back. Stunning when you think about how it was painted by hand, not computer generated. Truly a lost art.

As for the oft-mentioned Balrog sequence, I liked it too, but I had similar feelings regarding the seamlessness of the scene. You could tell that it just wasn't real. What I found remarkable about the other sequences I first mentioned was that you literally could not tell that there were CGI or effects elements in the films. That reaver chase looks so real I was certain it was models or something at first, but the movements were too fluid. Amazing.

Jurassic Park is the same way. I know good and well that those aren't real dinosaurs in there, but it is VERY hard to tell that they aren't really part of the scene. To me, it's that seamless integration that makes the effects so great.

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Tuesday, March 28, 2006 4:34 AM

CHRISISALL


Quote:

Originally posted by milford:

Jurassic Park is the same way. I know good and well that those aren't real dinosaurs in there, but it is VERY hard to tell that they aren't really part of the scene. To me, it's that seamless integration that makes the effects so great.


Yeah, it's the jaw-drop test. In Jurassic Park, I was like "Holy s**t!"
In Matrix Revulsions I was like "WTF."

IMO Chrisisall

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Tuesday, March 28, 2006 4:40 AM

MILFORD


That's a great way to put it. Thanks for making my morning.

For the record, there's lots of great stuff in the new BSG but I couldn't come up with any off the top of my head. But I think the effects in Firefly may be the best TV special effects ever.

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Tuesday, March 28, 2006 4:49 AM

CHRISISALL


BSG's FX are understated, and not lingered on to give the effect of reality, and Zoic provides the pitch-perfect space shots for them.
In Serenity, there was a 'WOW" factor to the climactic battle; no such factor on BSG, they try to keep that down in favour of the human drama (now, if they could only be as funny as our BDH's....)

No felgercarb Chrisisall

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Tuesday, March 28, 2006 4:58 AM

MILFORD


Telll me about it. Complete lack of wit in the BSG. I suppose there wouldn't be much humor in that situation, which adds to the realism. The result, though, is that the characters sometimes seem robotic. Too CSI. But, then again, that's not fair to compare them to our BDH's. They were some of the most outstanding characters ever to grace the small screen in terms of realism. When you combine that with the spectacular effects and the realistic sets and set dressing, you get the best show ever, hands down. Why again was it cancelled?

You are correct though, in BSG, as in FF/S, the effects are never the point (looking your way Mr. Lucas). They simply serve to tell the story.

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Tuesday, March 28, 2006 5:27 AM

DUG




I always try to point out that in all truth the best effects are the ones you can't notice, like the stuff in Jurassic. Even better examples can be pointed out in non-scifi movies. I know this is a thread about scifi tv and movies, but I love pointing out to people on crusades against cgi that one of the heaviest effects and cgi usage films of all times was Titanic. Nobody thinks about it since they don't expext cgi in a non-scifi/ fantasy film.

On matte paintings the Star Wars movies always get mentioned, but the Black Hole had almost twice as many matte shots going on. I would have to list the Cygnus as one of my favorite effects. That ship was AMAZING; there has never been anything like it in another movie or series.


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Tuesday, March 28, 2006 5:29 AM

CHRISISALL


Quote:

Originally posted by milford:

You are correct though, in BSG, as in FF/S, the effects are never the point (looking your way Mr. Lucas). They simply serve to tell the story.


I think the original Star Wars had 3-400 FX shots. These last three SW flicks had NO non-FX shots (but at least they used some real people, for some stuff).

Call me old-fashioned, but the people are key Chrisisall

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Tuesday, March 28, 2006 5:41 AM

MILFORD


Oh yeah, I forgot about the Black Hole. The ship was great, and so were the robots if I remember correctly.

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Tuesday, March 28, 2006 5:56 AM

DUG


It is one of my all time favorite movies, but I'm well aware of weaknesses in it. Huge ones. In some way the robots were good; in other ways oh boy do they look dated now. The whole movie does, and is actually a >prime< offender of abusing fx. Disney gave the effects department free reign to make entire scenes before the script was written and wrote around them. This means that some shots have an effect that was worth 3 seconds of screen time and are 10 seconds long. The zero g scenes were cool, but went on WAY too long. Seeing Ernest Borgnine float as the ship turns around him is not worth that much time. Great big asteroids on fire crashing through the ship while people run through vacuums without suits? Ouch....

Combine that with the fact that they did not have an ending for the movie (again, writing as they were filnming). The confusing drug trip that the movie ends with is freaky odd. This is a movie concept with potential that is *almost* great. THIS movie could have benefitted from a specal edition; leave Star Wars alone.

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Tuesday, March 28, 2006 6:02 AM

MILFORD


Tell me about it. I remember it mostly as a kid, but your comments remind me of the problems I noticed. It did seem a bit long in spots, and I think you're right about the special edition. Great idea.

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Tuesday, March 28, 2006 6:04 AM

EST120


Quote:

Originally posted by Jonestein:
* "Sky Captain" was pretty damn stunning with the green-screen FX, but unfortunately was a crappy movie, IMHO.



I enjoyed the effects and the overall look of that movie. The story was not so bad, in my opinion, but I loved the 20's styling of the costumes and the filming. Neat-O.

I may come up with one I like more later, but right now, I am picking the Cave Troll battle scene in Lord of the Rings in the Mines of Moria. Not the entire battle, just one part. The part where the Cave Troll smashes the grave that Gimli is standing on right after he jumps off it. I absolutely LOVED the interaction between the CGI and real life characters. That short sequence is absolutely stunning in my opinion.

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Tuesday, March 28, 2006 6:35 AM

ACRAZYIVAN


This isn't really my favorite sci-fi sequence, just a comment on the Firefly production crew's awesome abilities. On the commentary for "Shindig" we find out that at the end, when Mal and Inara are sitting on the catwalk overlooking the cows, there's nothing there, and they're actually CGI cows. Never in a trillion years would I have been able to place those as fake cows. I've rewound the DVD so many times to inspect them, and they're just phenomenally done.

Anyway, while "cows" isn't exactly an action sequence, I just had to throw in some credit to the Firefly production crew.

"We've gotta go to the crappy town where I'm a hero."

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Tuesday, March 28, 2006 6:41 AM

MILFORD


Gott love Zoic and their fake cows. Gets me too.

I also liked the look and the idea of Sky Captain, but thought the story was pretty dumb. Similar feeling about Sin City, but with a much better view of the story. Those effects were eye-popping.

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Tuesday, March 28, 2006 7:26 AM

GROUNDED


Erm...the cows were greenscreened in were they not? There's no way Zoic would waste time doing CG cows.

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Tuesday, March 28, 2006 8:21 AM

DUG


The commentary stated that the cows were CG, but I've always thought they were probably real cows composited into the scene. To model, texture and pose all of that herd would be far more difficult than using a real herd and some editing software.

And it is true; cows do not like walking on certain types of grates. You can avoid putting in a gate by digging a ditch and covering it with a grate made of round tubing (strong enough to hold up a vehicle, please). The cattle won't cross because they don't feel like their hooves have purchase. I'm not positive about the grates on Serenity; they are flat and the squares look close enough the cows may feel that they have sound footing. Weight may have been even more of an issue; could the grating in that set have supported a herd of critters that weigh over a half ton each?

That scene is one of the few places where my cgi hobby and my cattle farm house have crossed paths....


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Tuesday, March 28, 2006 8:56 AM

NIKNAK


The Lord of the Rings trilogy had amazing special effects and I'm not just talking about Gollum and the big battle scenes. The interaction between the hobbits and humans, touching and passing objects, is so good you'd be forgiven for thinking that half the actors really were 3' tall.

I'm glad someone mentioned the asteroid field in The Empire Strikes Back. I love the space battles in Empire and Return of the Jedi. The effects in the 3 prequels may be more spectacular but they don't look or feel as realistic to me.

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Tuesday, March 28, 2006 9:06 AM

FIVVER


I guess I'm going to have to date myself. My absolute favorite is the flight from the earth to the moon set to the Blue Danube in 2001.

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Tuesday, March 28, 2006 9:54 AM

GROUNDED


Quote:

Originally posted by dug:
The commentary stated that the cows were CG, but I've always thought they were probably real cows composited into the scene.



Yeah, but I always assumed that was more a slightly inappropriate use of the description CG than a quoting of fact ;)

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Tuesday, March 28, 2006 2:04 PM

MOSS


OOOh, special effects scenes

There have been so many epic special effects scenes and so many spring to mind. If I can only give 2 choices they would have to be from the original Staw Wars movies. The special effects on each of the original Star Wars were groundbreaking. No one had ever seen effects like them prior to their release.

My 2 choices are:

1. Millenium Falcon Bespin approach. It was so memorable because it was such a contrast to the darkness of the rest of the film. The musical score during the scene made it even more dramatic.

2. Millenium Falcon Escape from the Deathstar and tie fighter attack....This scene for me was the most exciting, plus the falcon's spectacular reverse exit from the Death Star hanger was the coolest space manouver of all time.

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Tuesday, March 28, 2006 2:24 PM

JOSSISAGOD


My favorite special effects sequence was the space battle in "Serenity", That said, I used to want to work for Industrial Light and Magic, now I want a job at ZOIC, so I'll have access to the best ship in the 'verse!

JOSSIS(Most Definitely)AGOD

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Tuesday, March 28, 2006 2:36 PM

JOSSISAGOD


Didn't one of the buildings in Blade Runner look kind'a familiar?

Select to view spoiler:


As in, the Millenium Falcon Turned on its engines?

Great Call back to George Lucas!

JOSSIS(Most Definitely)AGOD

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Tuesday, March 28, 2006 2:38 PM

MILFORD


Those are two of my favorites also. I love when that TIE fighter ricochets off of the asteroid. To thing that they did all that with models is unbelieveable.

By the way, strike all the junk I've said before. I still love the reaver and Serenity chase, but today I was watching the Train Job and the shot where Serenity pulls away from the train with Jayne hanging underneath looks so REAL. I have no idea how they did it, but I would swear that they built a hovertrain and a Serenity and filmed it.

Anyone out there a big enough CGI person to give insight as to why their effects look so much more real than others?

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Tuesday, March 28, 2006 2:39 PM

VONBRUMBACH


I always liked the Scene from Serenity, Part 1,
with Mal and Zoe going out to shoot down the skiff.

The effects of the targeting computer coming up, with the skiff way in the backround - and then the display of firepower from the AA Gun - that particualr scene I thought was pretty good.


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Tuesday, March 28, 2006 2:42 PM

MILFORD


That is pretty cool. Kinda reminds me of the same look that the techno flyer Badger had. Super neato.

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Tuesday, March 28, 2006 4:46 PM

KWICKO

"We'll know our disinformation program is complete when everything the American public believes is false." -- William Casey, Reagan's presidential campaign manager & CIA Director (from first staff meeting in 1981)


Milford: When I read the title of this thread, one thought popped into my head: The Reaver chase scene in the Firefly pilot!

I'm NOT really an SFX/CGI geek; that's what grabbed me about that scene. The shots with Serenity coming at the camera, and the Reaver ship so big and menacing coming up behind it, billowing out all that black smoke (it reminded me of watching an old F-4 Phantom fighter doing a "dirty burn" at an air show)... that shot just floored me. I honestly couldn't see how it could be CGI. I thought, "Man, someone actually went and did this stuff with real models and real film!" :) The zoom effects, the lens flares, the in- and out-of-focus bits; it all looked far too REAL to be simply CGI. It was a masterfully done scene, and definitely ranks in my top three all-time SFX shots.

That scene floored me like no special effects I've seen since I was a much younger nerd, and went and saw the original Star Wars in the theatre. From the opening scene of Star Wars, I knew I was in for something very special and something the world had never seen before.

The Pan-Am shuttle docking with the spinning orbital space station in 2001: A Space Odyssey is right up there, too. It doesn't look like much now, but in its day, when we were just getting into space in real life, it was utterly astonishing. Again, I was lucky enough to see that one in the theatre, when I was all of 6 years old. It's stuck with me for nearly 40 years...

Mike

A baby seal walks into a club...

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Wednesday, March 29, 2006 1:57 AM

MOSS


I completely agree.

I have not been a fan of CGI special effects as they never seem to look as real as the more traditional methods.

The special effects on Firefly were a giant leap forward in Scifi visual effects. The stunning visual effects on both Firefly and the new Battlestar Galactica are more original than anything else seen recently.

The space effects on Serenity had their own distinctive style and seemed to add even more polish to the work done previously. By far the best space batle scene in recent years.

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Wednesday, March 29, 2006 3:52 AM

SUCHISLIFE


That Reaver ship was so nasty! I loved the way it flipped to make an inverted entry into the atmosphere before sparking up the burners for the chase sequence. Really nice touch

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Wednesday, March 29, 2006 4:12 AM

MILFORD


That's one of my favorite parts of thw whole series! The way those guys got the ships to move made them seem like they actually had weight, like they were subject to the laws of physics.

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Leaning into the wind that used to carry me-Stavesacre
That's why I don't kiss'em on the mouth- Jayne Cobb

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Wednesday, March 29, 2006 4:20 AM

GREATBLACKTHORN


I love the way in the BDM, in the Big Damn Battle, with the Big Damn Ships, when they first approach each other and the Reaver ships lean forwards in that wierd, ominious way...Can't stop replaying that, amazing.

And in "The Message", the chase through the canyon with the alternating camera focuses brought joy to my heart...

What I love about Serenity/Firefly, there's never been a scene where I've thought "Wow...That looks cheap..." which I have many times with big budget movies made by studios with 10x the money.

I can't remember exactly how Joss put it, but in nearly his words:

"Too many sci-fi movies do scenes by "Look at this, this is an epic scene""...

She'll turn you in before you can say "Don't turn me in...lady..."

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Wednesday, March 29, 2006 4:30 AM

CHRISISALL


Let's not forget John Dykstra's work on Firefox.
Awsomely designed, awsomely kicking up a thunder shower in it's wake over the ocean.

Aren't ya gonna threaten me or something Chrisisall

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Tuesday, November 22, 2022 8:30 AM

JAYNEZTOWN


I'm not a fan of comicbook stuff but I think Josh Brolin 'Thanos' stands out in Avengers, a comicbook come to life. That was before the Covid crash.

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