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Circuit 3: Special Effects in Movies

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The big release this week is the highly anticipated sequel to Rise of the Planet of the Apes, Dawn of the Planet of the Apes (call Guinness, I just broke the record for using the word “the” in a sentence [9]). While the original film was outdone in the Academy’s Visual Effects category by Hugo (rightfully so, in my humble opinion), it was still one of the better visual effects eye candies ever brought to the big screen.

So in this week’s Circuit 3 we are asking you to list the greatest special effects used in movies (you can also jot down what you feel are the three greatest special effects driven films if you like). To no surprise, a heavy amount of the greatest visual effects films ever made come from the Sci-Fi genre. Films like A Trip to the Moon (1902 – featured in Scorsese’s aforementioned Hugo) and Metropolis (1927) laid the groundwork for later cinematic marvels like 2001: A Space Odyssey, Star Wars, Alien and Aliens, The Thing, Terminator 2: Judgment Day, Jurassic Park, The Matrix, Avatar, and this past year’s Oscar winner for Best Visual Effects, Gravity (if you want to call that a sci/fi flick). The list goes on and on in the genre.

However, there are many other film categories that feature outstanding visual effects work, including Adventure films like King Kong – the 1933 version is perhaps the granddaddy of them all, Jason and the Argonauts, The Lord of the Rings films, and The Pirates of the Caribbean films. Visual effects certainly spill over into Dramas as well, with films such as Forrest Gump, Titanic, What Dreams May Come, Gladiator, The Curious Case of Benjamin Button, and Life of Pi all winning the Oscar in the category. And, of course, the Horror genre has had its fair share of visual effects masterpieces, such as An American Werewolf in London, Poltergeist, Poltergeist II: The Other Side, and The Fly all showcasing master craftsmanship.

So let’s get to ranking!

My Circuit 3 for the best Special Effects in Movies:

  1. Star Wars Episode IV: A New Hope (1977)
  2. King Kong (1933)
  3. Jurassic Park (1993)

I’ll admit, that was one of the harder Circuit 3’s I’ve ever done. In the end, I heavily considered the era of the film with my choices, leaving Avatar, Gravity, and The Lord of the Rings films just outside of my ranking.

So what do you think are the greatest special effects in movie history? Be sure to check out Joey’s ★★★½ review of Dawn of the Planet of the Apes here.

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Written by Mark Johnson

Lover of all things film and Oscar. Fantasy sports’ equivalent of George Steinbrenner. Your very own Han Solo, making friends all over the movie-loving galaxy in spite of himself. When he’s not ranking just about everything or dominating boardgames, Mark is breaking down the Oscar race 24/7 with Rain Man-like stats and knowledge. In his downtime, you can find him commiserating with other Northeast Ohio sports fans because a hero isn’t complete without a little heartbreak. If Game of Thrones, Lost, Breaking Bad, Mad Men, and Survivor are your style, then congratulations, you have something in common with this inglourious basterd.

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