The LAMB Devours The Oscars: Visual Effects

by Lucien · February 11, 2014 · LAMB Devours the Oscars, Uncategorized · No Comments

Editor’s note: This is part of a 37-part series dissecting the 86th Academy Awards, brought to you by the Large Association of Movie Blogs and its assorted members. Nearly every day leading up to the Oscars, at least one new post written by a different LAMB will be published, each covering a different category  of the Oscars. Also, every Best Picture and Best Director nominee gets its own post. To read the other posts regarding this event, please click here. Thank you, and enjoy!



When it comes to Oscars, I don’t tend to really know a whole lot about it, or have I seen very many of the movies. But as someone who runs a site dedicated to superhero movies there is one category where I have seen all of the nominees and I feel like I’m able to impart an educated opinion on, and that is the category for Best Visual Effects. It seems like one of the biggest snubs is the fact that Pacific Rim is the big snub for this category, and oddly enough that’s one movie that I can’t really speak about because I’m another one of those people who hasn’t gotten around to seeing it. Aside from that, the other couple movies that I thought could have easily snagged a nod from the Academy. First off is Man of Steel. Even though it’s gotten quite a bit of backlash against both the massive destruction and some of the directions taken in the story, it’s hard to deny that the massive destruction looked incredible. And besides that, I think this was some of the best looking super speed effects that I’ve ever seen. Second is Thor: The Dark World. It didn’t hit quite as big as Iron Man 3, but I enjoyed it a heck of a lot more, and the look of Asgard itself was beautiful, I loved the design of the black hole grenades the Dark Elves used, and the climactic battle was very well done. But enough about the snubs, let’s take a look at this year’s actual nominees. 

Editor’s Note: You can see a video showcasing each film’s visual effects by clicking on the poster art!

iron-man-3-official-hdFirst up is Iron Man 3, the only superhero movie nominated in this category this year. I wasn’t that big of a fan of this movie as many other people were, and I didn’t really care too much for the glowing Extremis villains. What did work well was the complete destruction of Tony Stark’s mansion. That sequence alone is worth getting a nomination here, considering so much of that is entirely created in the computer, yet it looks like it’s happening entirely within the real world. I think it’s often harder to pull off effects that look both amazing and yet realistic and this movie really does its best to hit that balance.

gravity-movie-poster-closeupSpeaking of which, the other movie in this category to do just that is Gravity. Another science fiction movie made to look as if it is something that could realistically happen today, and it is amazing. There is so much right about this movie it’s hard to talk about it. The opening shot alone is incredible, and jaw dropping to think about how it was actually done. While watching the scene, it makes perfect sense that the camera could be moving the way it does, but when you stop to think about how it seamlessly moves inside of Sandra Bullock’s helmet, and there were probably several different takes that were put together with completely invisible cuts surrounded by computer effects that look like they were shot from space. It really is a marvel on so many different levels that it’s tough to think that this movie won’t be the one that wins it.

Star-Trek-Into-Darkness-Poster-2Of course, it’s not just about sci-fi that looks like it could happen in the real world. There’s also the completely fictional and fantastical science fiction such as the next movie, Star Trek: Into Darkness. This is the second sequel nominated this year and it carries with it the visual style of the previous Stark Trek movie, but also brings plenty of brilliant effects into play, from the Enterprise rising up out of the water to the jaw dropping space dive with Khan and Kirk. I think the biggest thing this movie does have going against it is the backlash against J.J. Abrams and his overuse of lens flare.


 Moving away from the Sci-Fi and into the Fantasy end of the spectrum brings us to The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug. Peter Jackson is no stranger to the Academy Awards and neither is the world of Middle Earth. This movie has a couple things going for it, there’s the thrill of the barrel ride sequence, and the majestic dragon Smaug. The dragon is one of the best dragons I’ve ever seen commited to film, and I’ve seen quite a few of them over the years. While the movie itself feels a bit bloated and overlong, there is still quite a bit of beauty left in Middle Earth and Jackson still knows how to bring that out.

the_lone_ranger_movie-wideFinally, there’s the elephant in the room. The summer blockbuster turned box office bomb The Lone Ranger. It’s another Fantasy, though it’s more of a Western Fantasy than a typical sword and sorcery Fantasy. Out of all the rest of the movies in this category, I only just recently watched this movie and I fell mostly in line with the rest of the country in thinking that it’s not a great movie by any stretch of the imagination. But what I did enjoy was the climactic final train scene. It may not be something all that original, as it had very much a similar feel to several setpieces in the previous Pirates movies, but that doesn’t change how fun it is to watch, and how visually impressive it is, even though not all the effects held up very well such as the awful looking scorpions. I’m not going to knock this movie for being on this list of nominees, but I think the stigma behind the movie itself has to be a detriment to its chances.

So there we have all the nominees. I think every single one of them really does deserve a place on this list when you look at what was accomplished by the visual effects in the movies alone. As for which one will actually take home the statuette? It’s tough to say anything other than Gravity. Listen to anyone who has seen this movie and whether or not they liked the movie as a whole, the thing they walked away with is that it was the most gorgeous looking movie they’ve ever seen. And I agree wholeheartedly.


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