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Top 5 Sci-fi Movies Ahead of their Time in Special Effects

by Shashank Bhardwaj
The Terminator

Jurassic Park is re-releasing in 3D format this April. Remember the original 1993 release? Those dinosaurs still look equally convincing. Jurassic Park, in terms of its special effects, was a movie way ahead of its time. But now it seems like we’ve reached a saturation point in terms of visual-effects quality. Nowadays movies are throwing up the same stuff we’ve been seeing for years. Decades back however, these effects were legendary, and some movies were truly ahead of their time.

Top 5 sci-fi movies ahead of their time in special effects

Blade runner

We’ve had many of such movies in the past. Clearly, most of them have belonged to the sci-fi/action genre and because they tend to be big-budget; while having the most heavy visual-effects usage. Here’s our pick of the top 5 sci-fi movies ahead of their time. Obviously, a list of 5 may not be enough to fit in all those amazing flicks (like Blade Runner), but nevertheless:

#5
2001: A space odyssey

2001: a space odyssey

Released in 1968, Stanley Kubrick’s 2001: A Space Odyssey tops the Online Film Critics Society list of greatest science fiction films of all time. It was selected as the best science fiction movie ever by the American Film Institute. The visual extravaganza in this film makes it one of the most memorable, until this very day. The special effects sequences were long – more than 10 minutes at a stretch; and for its time, was ground-breaking (the weightlessness scene, for example). The movie also had a computer – the infamous HAL 9000 – as one of its most important characters. Seeing the effects shown in this movie, it’s hard to believe it was a 1968-release.

#4
Tron

Top 5 sci-fi movies special effects

Tron

The 1982 release is considered one of the first ‘truly CGI’ movies from Hollywood. In many ways, Tron set the benchmark for the visual effects we would see from other movies. It received the Academy Award for Technical Achievement 14 years after its release. John Lasseter, head of Pixar and Disney’s animation group, described how the film helped him see the potential of computer-generated imagery in the production of animated films stating;

without Tron there would be no Toy Story.

The movie even spawned a sequel – Tron: Legacy.

#3
Jurassic Park

Top 5 sci-fi movies

Jurassic park

Steven Spielberg’s 1993 release was flawless in the visual effects department. There was tremendous attention to detail, and this movie had the audience enthralled. Coupled with a strong solid script, this movie was an instant success. The effects are even better than some movies now.

2#
The Matrix

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The matrix

Just one word – revolutionary. The first movie of The Matrix Trilogy, redefined the action genre with effects and stunts never seen before, and literally changed the world of cinema. Slow-motion techniques were taken to a whole new level – and the famous Bullet Time technique (remember Neo dodging the Agent’s bullets?), where the viewer got a slow-motion 360 degree view of the action; was suddenly the next big thing. Although the next 2 sequels in the series were disappointing in terms of plot quality, they matched, if not surpassed the amazing visual effects this movie brought to the big screen. The famous lobby scene is widely accepted to be the best action sequence ever in a movie.

#1
Terminator 2: Judgement Day

The terminator

The terminator – judgement day

Those who watch this one for the first time will still be amazed at the mind-boggling, convincing special effects. The effects employed in this blockbuster were breakthroughs in special effects. The movie included the first use of natural human motion for a computer-generated character, and the first partially computer-generated main character. The movie did a wonderful job, impressing the audience with the shape-shifting ‘liquid metal’ Terminator.

Arnold as the Terminator was completely convincing too. Although the special effects accounted for only 5 minutes of running time in the movie, they played perhaps the biggest role in the movie’s success. A total of 25 man-years were spent in creating the magic on the screen – making it the most expensive movie of its time. The plot was as good as the effects, and thus the movie was a resounding critical and box office success. It went on to win 4 Academy awards – including one for, yes, Special Effects.

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