Captain America: The Winter Soldier (2014)

Before we get started, does anyone want to get out?”

Not as if the big man needed it, the Russos have nonetheless grabbed the syringe and stabbed Captain Rogers straight in the arm with a heady mix of adrenaline and steroids. Straight from the start, the viewer is catapulted into a fantastic action scene, which blends the typical super-hero trope of stylistic ass-kicking, with the gritty realism needed to differentiate the great captain from other beloved Marvel heroes.

In fact, there is very little resemblance to the somewhat flatter first instalment, which acted purely as an origin story for the then upcoming Avengers movie. Instead, in typical sequel fashion, the film is darker, cooler and sexier, making it not long before you are smiling to yourself in satisfaction, as Rogers plants another size-13 boot onto the chest of another bad-guy, sending them flying off the screen. But this is not to say that this fast paced cross between Nolan’s Dark Knight action and Greengrass’s high octane and vibrant camera-work is not recognisable. The Winter Soldier still sticks to the gentle blend of humour, graphic action and the inaugural post-credits teaser, which we have come to expect from the franchise as a whole.

With the origin-story shackles removed, Rogers and his fellow Avenger Natasha Romanoff, are able to get caught up in a much more spy-infested plot that nicely blends the modern with the vintage, something that needs to be upheld in a Captain America movie. The plot reveals that involve the two story franchise powerhouses, S.H.I.E.L.D and HYDRA are somewhat predictable, but at least the decent set of villains and scene variation keeps it fresh and interesting for most of its slightly heavy running time.

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Despite some really terrific and unique action set-pieces (wait till you see Fury’s vehicular ambush), where the film possibly slips is the lack of real scene-stealing dialogue that some of the better Marvel instalments have. This makes it appealing on the eye (especially Johansson’s Portman-style Marvel make-over), but perhaps not so much on the ears. Despite this however, the ominous tone to the whole picture ensures its decent-sequel status remains and it will no doubt please audiences across the board.

Evans, Johansson and a terrific supporting cast have not just upped the Captain America stakes, the Russos have also pushed the boundaries yet again of what Marvel action sequences can entail with the right imagination and ingenuity. Throw in some nicely sinister antagonists such as Robert Redford’s Alexander Pierce, and one of Jackson’s more involved roles as the ambiguous Nick Fury, and Winter Soldier stands out as a rampantly involved sequel in a potentially cluttered super hero world.

Shapstik Verdict: Fantastic fight scenes, high-octane bullet-laden action and a terrific set of familiar and new characters, means that Captain America: The Winter Soldier will hit the ground running as one of Marvel’s better second phase instalments. However, after the umpteenth choreographed fight scene between the chisel-jawed captain and bad guy cannon fodder, the most ardent sceptic may just allow themselves the question: Is this really anything I haven’t seen before? The answer maybe be mostly no, but this should not retract from a fantastic looking, slick action film that has injected new life into the under-appreciated super-hero. 8/10

Ender’s game (2013)

“In the moment when I truly understand my enemy, understand him well enough to defeat him, then in that very moment I also love him.”

I did not know what to expect when I sat down and watched Gavin Hood’s glossy take on Orson Scott card’s popular novel of the same name. Fortunately, not only is the talented cast’s portrayal of duelling cadets a massive highlight, but Hood’s grasp of the genre is ultimately very appealing. As long as the viewer is willing to enjoy some recognisable movie tropes without feeling short-changed, then most people will be able to sit back and soak up not just the young trainees’ excellent efforts, but will also bask in Ford’s heavy handed determinism and Kingsley’s stalwart delivery.

After a failed alien invasion on Earth fifty years ago by a species known as the Formics, Harrison Ford plays Colonel Hyrum Graff, the leader of the recruitment drive to hand pick and engineer future commanders in preparation for the pending second wave. Asa Butterfield plays young cadet Ender Wiggin, who Graff believes is the future leader of Earth’s resistance. Hailee Steinfeld plays one of the only female roles as she did in the Cohen Bothers’ True Grit, delivering another great performance with one of the less interesting scripts. But despite some rather predictable plot lines, it is Butterfield’s unexpected wit, enthusiasm and moody portrayal that steals the show, a performance that would perhaps suit a young anti-hero role in the upcoming Star Wars movies.

Most of the film is spent on an orbiting boot camp, where teams of young promising commanders, battle it out in a strange sci-fi version of Quidditch. In fact, most of the film takes place during this premise, and if it was not for the engrossing albeit predictable development of Ender himself, the movie could have become stale. But is doesn’t. Instead, the intelligent use of graphics and humour in the right places, ensures the viewer will stay around to witness the fairly original and bleak ending, both in terms of script and cinematography.

Ender’s Game is without doubt a cheesy flick. But instead of the creamy cheese of Pacific Rim, the movie concentrates more on the characters, and ends up with a story that will wrap most eighties kids in memory foam as they sit back and enjoy some great Last Starfighter graphics mixed with all the modern trimmings. This makes Ender’s Game not just something to see, but something to treasure as well.

Shapstik Verdict: Regardless of whether you feel Ender’s Game is a “kids” movie or not, its terrific imagery and adherence to the science-fiction ideal in the face of predictability and cliché, makes it worth a watch and a real hidden gem in 2013. 7/10

Shapstik’s Movie Clip of the Week: Monty Python and the Holy Grail (1975)

“Alright, we’ll call it a draw”

My favourite scene from one of the most revered of comedies, King Arthur’s ridiculous battle with the Black Knight in Monty Python and the Holy Grail has gone down in film history, never being bettered in terms of ingenious parody. Even though I had always enjoyed and respected the film,  my admiration increased even further after studying Malory’s Morte D’Arhur during university. After all, the entire film is in some ways an allegoric parody of the surreal nature of chivalric literature. which is perfectly represented in Arthur’s battle with the Black Knight for safe passage over the bridge. The nub of the joke is that the bridge, despite its importance, is just a tiny area crossing over a trickle of water.

After scouring the land for brave knights to join him on his quest for the Grail, Arthur witnesses the skill and courage of the Black Knight, and asks him to join him on his quest. Met with stoic defiance, he battles with the knight after being told that “none shall pass” over the knight’s bridge. Even after losing several limbs, the “brave” knight never gives up, which hilariously shows the lengths that knights would go to in order to prove their bravery in Malory’s work. A classic scene from a comedy that even a modern audience would undoubtedly still find hilarious.

 

Shapstik’s Movie Clip of the Week: Crimson Tide (1995)

Decided to start doing a Movie Clip of the Week to fit in-between my reviews and countdowns. To keep the river flowing, if you know what I mean. Anyway here is the first:

“Oh no you won’t, sir”

Taken from my favourite submarine movie Crimson Tide (1995), and starring my two favourite actors in Hackman and Washington, this scene is the culmination of not just a clash of personalities, but a contest of ideals. Known as the “mutiny scene”, it is the moment that two men create their own battlefield in the tense confines of a nuclear submarine.

Paired up under unfortunate circumstances, all seems fine between Captain Ramsay and his new XO Lieutenant Hunter, until the first glimpses of the tension are spotted during dinner on board, when Washington states: “in the nuclear world, the true enemy is war itself”. A line that stabs straight into the heart of Hackman’s beliefs and adherence to the chain of command, wherein no debate can be afforded.

After receiving an uncompleted transmission regarding the deployment of nuclear weapons, Hunter, despite being ordered to never disagree in-front of the crew, finds the Captain’s disregard for common sense too much, and speaks his mind. This creates one of the tensest war-time moments in film, and without doubt displays what I still believe to be the late Tony Scott’s best performance as a director!

Hope you have enjoyed my clip, and look out for next time’s Movie Clip of the Week!

Shapstik’s Top 5 Movie Battles: Fantasy

A fantasy movie without a battle is like a slice of plain toast. Although still edible, it will most likely be boring, dry and tasteless. Ok, so that’s not always the case, as there are some great fantasy films without the clash of swords. But when beasts and armies meet on the fantasy battlefield, it makes some of the most epic moments in film. Everything from Greek legends, to giant monsters of fiction have clashed on the fantasy scene, and I have really enjoyed making this post and especially choosing my Top 5.

Following on from my Top 5 Sci-fi battles, below is my favourite fantasy battles from some of the best the genre has to offer. I have spanned many decades in my choices, offering an idea as to the movies I like the most. Definitely one of the hardest to narrow down, but also loads of fun re-watching those fantastic battle scenes. Enjoy!

5: King Kong (1933)

A bad-tempered Eighth Wonder of the World  VS a T-Rex, the only suitable opponent in Earth’s history

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I have chosen this perennial 1933 monster movie, because when held against the remakes, many would be pleasantly surprised by the raw brutality of the original film. It really does feel like Kong is a true movie-monster, and a mindless and very dangerous ape to boot. This makes it even more shocking when the capitalist motivation and memories of the Victorian freak show, drive Denham and company to take this uncontrollable beast back to the mainland. Or as Doctor Ian Malcolm would say: “the worst idea in the long, sad history of bad ideas”.

I have picked Kong’s fight against the T-Rex, because it is that moment in the film when the viewer realises the true strength of the beast. But what is also poignant about the scene, is that it can be seen as both the defence of a woman by a misunderstood creature, an action some may even perceive as love, or the instinctive actions of a dangerously petulant and selfish monster, whom doesn’t want to lose his favourite toy. I have to swing for the latter, especially when you see Kong absent-mindedly playing with the jaw of the T-Rex after he has snapped it in half. As I said before, fairly brutal even for today’s thick skinned audience.

4: Beowulf (2007)

Grendel (our monster) VS Beowulf (the man that is here to kill our monster)

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When I watched Zemeckis’ grotesque creation burst into that doomed mead-hall in glorious Blue ray, I thought it was one of the best fantasy scenes I had ever seen. It was one of the most terrifying things I had even seen as well. The almost strobe-like effect of the blue camp-fire on the monster’s skin only adds to the horror. The animation, visuals and sound are so refined, it serves as a fantastic backdrop to a rather unfortunate-looking Grendel, screaming in an ancient language and tearing the legs off terrified Heorotilites.

Even though our hero’s battle with the beast is clearly the more significant scene, the monster’s ambush of the unlucky merry-makers, and their fruitless battle against him, is such a shocking moment in the context of the generally harmless frivolities building up to it, that I had to put it in my list. Zemeckis’ motion-capture paintbrush works its magic so freely, that it dances with the boundaries of brutality, finishing with Hopkins staring down his forgotten son and willing his own demise. Fantastic scene in a fairly underrated fantasy movie.

3: Jason and the Argonauts (1963)

Jason and Co  VS a bunch of not-so-funny bones

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No doubt the most famous battle from the undisputed master of stop-motion animation. Even though I had to bump Medusa vs Perseus down to honourable mention status, there was no way Harryhausen’s best work was not going to make my Top 5. This was the moment that he achieved a god-like status in visual effects, and his techniques became integral to the entire genre for a generation, going on to influence future fantasy film-makers such as Peter Jackson and his Rings trilogy.

Aeëtes, in pursuit of Jason after steeling the Fleece, sows the Hydra’s teeth after praying to the goddess Hecate, producing a skeletal warrior from each. Frozen in fear, the heroes watch as these menacing creatures rise from the ground and creep slowly towards them, before bursting into a ferocious and relentless attack. Fantasy film at its best, the ensuing battle has to be in my Top 5 and showcases Harryhausen’s talent more than any other.

2: 300 (2006)

300 suspiciously toned warriors VS Persian cannon fodder  

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The first wave of Xerxes’s dark army crashing violently against the glistening shields, spears and bodies of Leonidas and company’s human wall, is practically fantasy-battle porn. Zack Snyder’s take on The Battle of Thermopylae at the Hot Gates, is the ideal backdrop for some fantastically crafted fight scenes, with warriors, giants and huge beasts all getting sliced and diced by the famous 300.

I love this battle for the tension build-up, which is broken by a well-aimed spear thrown from the defiant ranks, acting as the classic fantasy-battle catalyst to spark the initial attack. Butler’s rousing battle cries may be slightly cheesy, but soon the blood starts to flow, as Snyder puts those glossy touches to the action at just the right moments. A great fantasy battle, with plenty of geeky phalanx tactics and cool spear-deaths to drool over.

1: The Lord of the Rings: The Two Towers (2002)

NATO VS an army bred for a single purpose…you know the rest

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The Fields of Pellennor from Return of the King may have been more epic (albeit slightly anti-climatic), but for me the defence of Rohan at Helms Deep was not just the peak of Jackson’s trilogy, but is also the best of on-screen fantasy warfare. Jackson uses all the tools at his disposal, showcasing the perfect balance between computerised imagery and live action. Using the night and rain as cover, the camera never lingers for too long in one place, blending it all seamlessly together.

The pathetic fallacy of the sudden downpour at the start turns the scene in to a doomed scenario, draining the hope from the faces of the brave men behind the walls. This is Jackson’s finest moment, building up the tension with wordless gnarling and stomping from the enemy, only to be snapped with the unintentional unleashing of an arrow. A classic already, The Battle of Helms Deep has always looked amazing and will no doubt continue to be untouched by age.

I hope you enjoyed my Top 5 Movie Battles. You can find other genres in the links above!

Honourable mentions: LOTR: The Return of the King (2003): Battle of Pelennor Fields,  Clash of the Titans (1981): Medusa vs Perseus, POTC: The Curse of the Black Pearl (2003): Black Pearl vs Interceptor, The Golden Voyage of Sinbad (1973): Kali vs Sinbad

Shapstik’s Top 5 Movie Battles: Horror

Continuing on from my Sci-Fi and Fantasy movie battle Top Fives, my next instalment is the evergreen genre of Horror! Not the most obvious place to look for battle scenes, which means some of my choices lean towards movies with combo-genres, such as sci-fi-horror and comedy-horror. But the continuing on-screen battle between good and evil, so integral to the genre, means there is often more choices than you might first think. I hope you enjoy watching the clips and please comment with your ideas!

5: Freddy vs. Jason (2003)

Freddy VS well, Jason, obviously

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The much anticipated clash between horror’s most infamous suspected paedophile and its biggest hockey fan, may not have been the best movie in the world, but there was at least something very satisfying about seeing the two horror heavyweights clash on the big screen. After a shared total of seventeen movies, where would-be heroes had tried, and failed, to finally kill them off, I guess it made perfect sense to see what they can do against each other.

The scene is actually really entertaining, and I love the clash of fighting styles, like some weird Streetfighter-horror crossover. Voorhees is clearly portrayed as the immovable object, Kruger being pushed to use cunning and surroundings to swing the battle his way. I won’t give away any spoilers in case you have yet to press play! Its prestige in the genre, and the fact the last fight is probably the best thing about the movie, means Kruger vs Voorhees squeezes into my number five spot.

4: Ghostbusters (1984)

Doe…Ray…Egon!…and Winston!!! VS Godzilla’s lovable cousin

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At number four is everybody’s favourite paranormal experts, battling it out on a rooftop in Central Park West with one of the most surreal villains in horror history. After Ray unintentionally manifests the Stay Puft Marshmallow Man, the Ghostbusters watch in horror as the giant irony crushes everything in its path, with a ridiculous, childish grin spread across its face.

The whole scene is actually a collection of gemtastic camera shots and inventive editing, the shot from the street looking up at the roasting of the marshmallow being one. After marching through the street like Godzilla, Stay Puft starts to climb the tower like King Kong, finally forcing our heroes to do the unforgivable….cross the streams. Such a classic scene in horror-comedy, which launches it into my next spot in the Top 5.

3: Aliens (1986)

Metal Gear Ripley VS Mothers for justice

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One of the greatest one-on-one battles in modern movie history, Ripley’s defiance in the face of a seemingly unstoppable alien is the clash of two of the most iconic characters in sci-fi horror. Anyone that has seen the special edition, will know that Ripley’s instinctive maternal connection to Rebecca (sorry, Newt), which drives her to go against this beast, originates from the loss of her daughter through old age, whilst she wandered space in the Nostromo’s lifeboat The Narcissus after the first movie.

Angry and determined to protect the one she loves, Ripley dons the Power Loader (she has a class 2 rating), and squares up to the infamous monster. What follows is the greatest girl fight in history, with the whirring of the loader mixing with the spitting and gnarling of the Queen. But lets not forget, the Alien herself is arguably only acting in self defence against this bitch-in-a-can, whom recently torched most of her offspring!  A fantastic battle, and one that is as scary as it is exciting, landing it the number three spot.

2: From Dusk Till Dawn (1996)

The Van Helsings VS Rodriguez’s imagination

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If Rodriguez was slightly tied to Tarantino’s writing for most of From Dusk till Dawn, the final battle scene at the end, when all the inhabitants turn into crazed monsters, is where the Sin City director was really able to put his foot down. Gory, fun and full of action, all the characters turn into bad-ass Van Helsings in the blink of an eye. It is this almost archaic battle between good and evil that perhaps gives the film its cult status, as it moved from box office flop, to revered and loved through the years.

Any deceit or ambiguity behind those that dwell in this dusty bar, is fully removed for the final scene,  where the monsters are their purely evil selves, forcing Clooney and Co to renew their faith and return to Bram Stoker’s treasure trove of crosses, holy water and just out and out faith. Both unique and traditional at the same time, this battle between ancient evil and mismatched anti-heroes makes my number two spot.

1: Jaws (1975)

The Brody Bunch VS A giant tuba

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For my number one spot I have chosen a great battle scene from one of my favourite movies of all time: The final confrontation in Jaws between one man, completely out of his element in the middle of the sea in a sinking ship, against an ancient killing machine with no natural predators. Of course, in classic horror battle fashion, it takes human wit and intuition to finally take down the beast, as it snaps and terrorises our hero. As a viewer, the double danger of the shark and the water just adds to the tension, making it impossible to take your eyes from the screen.

Seemingly trapped and helpless and having lost his fellow shipmates, Brody battles just to stay alive at first, against this unusually aggressive Great White. It is scenes like this almost primeval struggle for survival, that made Spielberg undoubtedly the best blockbuster movie director of his generation. It only ever feels like you are in the moment with Brody, as he hangs on (quite literally) and finally turns the tables on this terrible foe. The tension that mounts before Roy Scheider delivers that final classic line is fantastic, ending my Top countdown with a great battle from one of the best ever horror films.

I hope you enjoyed my Top 5 Movie Battles: Horror! You will find my honourable mentions below and please comment with any that you feel should have been included.

Honourable Mentions:  It (1990): Losers club vs Pennywise, Night of the Living Dead (1968): Humans vs zombies, The Thing (1982), Macready vs The Thing,  Jeepers Creepers (2001): The Police vs The Creeper, Alien 3 (1992): Ripley and Co vs Alien, 30 Days of Night (2007): Humans vs Vampires

Shapstik on England vs Denmark

There is no doubt that as an England fan my expectations have changed. After enjoying great semi finals in 90, 96 and a good show in 98, it has taken over a decade and several failed tournaments, for me to come it the sober conclusion that my hopes now rest less in winning trophies, and more on witnessing a decent England squad develop and make the most out of what they have. England’s display against Denmark on Wednesday night has proved two things: It isn’t happening, and it could happen.

Even if most agree that at the moment we do not have a World Cup winning squad, it does not mean that we cannot still surprise in Brazil. As an England fan I am by definition rather fickle, and it was only last year that I joined many voices complaining about the lack of youth development and choice of good English players. But after a great season from two squads in Southampton and Liverpool, the tune has changed and revealed some really good prospects such as Shaw, Lallana, Townsend for Spurs, Barkley for Everton and Sterling, as well as some improved and developed players like Sturridge, whom has become a regular goal scorer. When put out against Denmark, they all shone against the supposed established players with so called valuable experience. After witnessing the skillful Lallana torment a decent defense with consummate ease, it does put into question how important experience can be, when it is only mixed with memories of disappointment and loss.

Lallana’s literal lack of fear on the ball just emphasizes the importance of this moment for England to grab these players, play them in the first team and allow them to develop over time. The young Southampton midfielder is a vital component of the potentially new England squad, alongside other developing talents such as the Ox and Rodriguez. But with Hodge at the helm I am not sure this will happen. In a post match interview on ITV last night, when asked about why he played Sturridge in the position that ruined his Chelsea career, he said and I quote: “Well, if we want to play all these players together”. I was surprised by this, as I don’t think anyone would complain if not every household name was on the team sheet, as long as the manager has a plan and it means the team plays better as whole. Any gripes about their favourite player not starting would soon be forgotten I’m sure.

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Maybe Hodgson should listen to the public, whom most believe Rooney’s form for England has now got to the point of benching him, to make way for more emphasis on constructing a team around in-form players whom are in their best positions. Most, myself included would rather see talent like Ox, Sterling and Lallana feeding Sturridge playing down the centre, than struggling to fit square pegs into round holes. But maybe I am wrong. Either way, I still believe Gerrard is one of the best midfielders we have, and as a captain he is an essential part of the England squad.  His distribution on Wednesday was excellent and alongside the right creative midfielder it could potentially begin to click.

But if it all goes wrong in the summer maybe we can all blame Roy, for not playing Sturridge up front, or not communicating a clear style and set of tactics in the short time he is with the squad. But we have to also wonder if there is a mysterious stranglehold that takes hold on these players. After all, when Lallana came on and showed what bravery, skill and belief can do, many of the other players suddenly found their feet. Perhaps not in the same way, because the Southampton player does seem to be a genuine talent, but they begun to remember why they are in their respective first teams, good, fast and attacking teams at that.

Let’s just hope then, that we can build up the confidence over the pre-cup friendlies and also hope that Roy ensures that each game at the World Cup, whether with all young players or not, start with this belief in their ability and the support of everyone in the crowd and at home. Either way, I know I’ll be losing my voice in the pub supporting the Three Lions and I just hope the players enjoy themselves as much as me.

Shapstik’s Top 5 Movie Battles: Science-Fiction

There is no doubt that battle scenes can make or break a movie. Whether it is an intense skirmish in a building, or an epic battle waged between thousands, these scenes are where the directors and perhaps the actors earn their crust and stamp their authority on a film, perhaps even a genre. Often delivered at the peak of tension build up, it is the time for heroes to rise, spirits to be broken and history to be made. It is also about the time for the inevitable body count to start climbing.

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My idea to start a series of top 5 movie battles began with a list I had made of my favourites from across the years. As the list grew longer, I realized that splitting them into genre would be much more suitable. I will begin with Science-Fiction battles, which has to be one of best genres for violent encounters and futuristic weapons that leaves your jaw rooted to the floor. But don’t expect my Top 5 to always follow the path of the bigger the better, and I have chosen one or two that squeeze the action into tight spaces. Choosing my Top 5 was really difficult and you will find my honourable mentions at the bottom. I hope you enjoy my list, and yes, there will be Star Wars!

5: The Terminator (1984)

Arnie in sunglasses VS the entire contents of the West Highland police station

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Less a battle and more a massacre, the person known to the police only as “The Phone Book Killer”, bursts into the police station looking for Sarah Connor, and immediately opens fire with a personal arsenal of weapons “purchased” from the local store.  Not only is this the moment when Reece’s gentle warning regarding the cyborg’s persistence comes to life, but it is that moment in the science-fiction movie when the viewer realises just how unstoppable the dark assassin really is.

Opening with the most famous words to ever leave Arnie’s mouth, the scene is a brutal demonstration of the futility with which the police fight, getting torn apart in the process. Even Winfield and Henricksen who had only been in the movie a short while, are simply cannon fodder in the big man’s pursuit. Treading the line so beautifully between science-fiction and horror, Cameron’s use of dark spaces and  technology laden first-person views has gone down in film history.

4: War of the Worlds (1953)

Earth’s brave soldiers VS the invincible Martian invaders

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Try to picture yourself sitting in 1953, witnessing the on screen horror of seeing your country’s bravest men with their most advanced weapons, melt uselessly against the Martian attack. Just like the remake, the pointlessness of fighting is so stark,  especially in the context of the cold war 1950s.

The battle in particular I have chosen is the initial attack from the aliens. The tension, mystery and religious significance that builds up is some of the best in cinema, ending in an epic confrontation with some of the most revered special effects. The eventual full retreat, must have been so unnerving in a cold war era. An era that had already proved itself paranoid after Orson Welles’ infamous radio broadcast before the movie’s release.

3: Starship Troopers (1997)

Rasczak’s Roughnecks VS a minor bug problem

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Otherwise known as The Ambush at Whiskey Outpost, this battle scene was the moment that Earth realised they were up against more than just mindless bug drones. The trap laid for the Mobile Infantry by the Arachnids on Planet P was for me that best moment in the movie, and the clichés and cheese keep flowing throughout, squeezing itself in-between the carnage.

It is scenes like this that make Verhoeven’s explosive sci-fi imaging so engrossing and entertaining. The enemy bodies pile up so quickly that other Warrior bugs start to use them to scale the walls. You have to love the shot over the wall as the viewer takes in the sheer number of bugs approaching, as well as the huge Tanker bugs coating soldiers in flames. Because, as with all brilliant and heartless sci-fi enemies, overkill is everything,

2: Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan (1982)

Kirk and the USS Enterprise  VS the USS Reliant and Khhhaaannn!!!

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The Battle of Mutara Nebula is one of the defining moments in the Star Trek movie franchise. Never before or since has any Star Trek movie been able to replicate the emotive tension between two adversaries. Add to this the unparalleled backdrop of the Nebula itself, and you have one of the best looking battles in sci-fi.

What I love most about this scene, is that it epitomises the Naval connection that the whole film had. The way the ships pull up alongside each other to unload their weapons and tear holes into their foes, reminds me so much of all the great naval battles in film. The way Kirk outsmarts Khan and his more powerful Reliant, also helped create the legendary status of the famous Enterprise captain.

1: Star Wars Episode V – The Empire Strikes Back (1980)

Rebel Scum VS the Empire’s version of overkill

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Although perhaps not portrayed as such in the movie, The Battle of Hoth is seen throughout the EU as a pivotal moment in the Empire and Vader’s desire to squash the rebel alliance. In the film, the battle is more a precursor to a predominantly character based plot, rather than a result of built-up tensions. Visually however, it is without doubt one of the defining moments in the genre’s history, and even now is simply mind-blowing in both its effects and cinematography.

There can be no doubt that the AT-ATs make the whole scene. The expert direction turns these surreal tanks from seemingly impenetrable, to crippled by some rope. Truly breathtaking, the action moves between the battle and those involved so inventively it hurts. In the end, it is only Admiral Ozzel’s incompetence that turns a possible massacre into the escape of many, with Skywalker leading the charge and helping to make those pesky Robot Camels fall over.

Honourable MentionsIndependence Day final battle (1996), Aliens Nest Ambush (1986), Return of the Jedi final battle (1983), Tron light cycle battle (1982), First Contact defence of Earth 1996)