Movies are visual creations. Whether or not a movie is any good relies heavily on the visuals that help convey the story at hand, in other words, if the CGI, costumes, production design, etc. suck, then in all likelihood, so will the movie. Now the dialogue, editing, direction skill and everything else that goes into any one film has to be top notch as well for it to be watchable, but that is another blog entirely…these are the most visually stunning films of the past 50 years. Some are considered classics, others…not so much. But one thing is certain: they are fun to look at!
(No Particular Order)
1. Moulin Rouge
Director: Baz Luhrmann
Production Designer: Catherine Martin
This 2000 film was the third film outing for visual powerhouse director Baz Luhrmann and his production designer wife Catherine Martin. The costumes, over 1000 different pieces in total, are cause alone for this musical menagerie to make the list. Add to it Luhrmann’s distinctive quick editing and sets so intricate they are overwhelming to behold (especially in the sensory-bombastic finale) and you have a recipe for visual greatness. This one has the added boot of being considered one of the best movies of the last decade, insuring that its visuals will be enjoyed for years to come. The best part? Almost all of the visuals are accompanied with insane special effects, editing and thrill ride-like filming that transports the viewer at a furious pace through the dark, wonder-filled tragedy of the denizens of the Moulin Rouge. Be warned, Moulin Rouge is as much liked for its visuals as it is hated, with some claiming that seizures, motion sickness and even migraines resulted from the occasionally frenetic action. Just like a true thrill ride, if you are prone to these conditions, then please don’t get on. If not, then brace yourselves for one of the most immersive, thrilling and moving films ever made.
3 Scenes to Watch
2. Lara Croft: Tomb Raider
Director: Simon West
Production Desinger: Kirk M. Petrucelli
Lara Croft: Tomb Raider is a 2001 cult-favorite by director Simon West and Paramount Pictures. Based on the best selling video game series of the same name, Tomb Raider debuted with a lead attached who was unmatched at that point in the form of Angelina Jolie, a relatively new actress to the action world, having specialized in dramas and independent pieces up to that point. The film was unfairly panned by people who, for the most part, did not really understand its point: pure, unadultered fun. Since its release in 2001, the film is one of the rare exceptions in the film industry in which the film has actually gained popularity in its maturity, with most, including revered film critic Roger Ebert remarking in retrospect that in 2001, it was “ahead of its time” and paved the way for more successful films like Iron Man, Mr. and Mrs. Smith and Batman Begins. Visuals are the film’s strongest point, still holding records for two of the largest sets ever constructed (the Temple of Light and Croft Manor) and some of the most intricate designs for working set pieces to date (see the Lot in the Temple of Light and the Orrery in the Temple of Time). Mix in the still insanely covetous Croft Manor and the bungee ballet scene and you have a recipe for a visual good time. Even if you don’t like the story, just pay attention to the art contained within, I still have yet to see an adventure film that matches Tomb Raider in visual eye candy.
3 Scenes to Watch
Pictures are courtesy of Tombraiderchronicles.com and Allmoviephoto.com, Moulin Rouge! is property of 20th Century Fox and Lara Croft: Tomb Raider is property of Paramount Pictures.