Movies reflect the changing roles of men in the 21st century. Here is what our community says about the 2016 Oscar nominees in Visual Effects.
This post is part of our “Movies and Manhood” series that gives some of our regular writers an opportunity to share their views on how movies have impacted their thinking about men’s roles today. Our objective is to find the intersection between these films and the themes and topics we address here at The Good Men Project. Be sure to check out our other posts here.
Visual effects in movies receive a lot of attention, and for good reason: the imagery in a film can immediately transport us to a time, a place, a situation. Although other elements like sound and dialogue are important, the visuals, more than any other element, truly represent what the medium of film is all about.
In this post, a couple of our GMP movie panelists briefly reflect on some of the Oscar nominees for visual effects (as well as anything else they’d like to share about these films). The nominees are Mad Max: Fury Road, The Martian, The Revenant, Star Wars: The Force Awakens, and Ex Machina.
Check out the reflections of a couple of our writers and let us know your own thoughts on these 2016 nominees in visual effects. But first, check out this amazing behind-the-scenes clip highlighting the visual effects in The Force Awakens:
The GMP Perspectives
Mad Max: Fury Road: With an overtone of desolation, the Mad Max series has created a fictional landscape that embodies the collective of a Darwinistic society. Lead by a greedy, water- and power-hungry overlord in a fortress in the desert, the scenery is just a little ahead of where we are today. Miller has always had an eye for great adventure, and the chase scenes through the desert give this movie its own place in action cinema history. With its own musical accompaniment (the guitar player is a personal favorite in this film), the relentless chase scenes and nonstop explosions have set a bar that I am not sure many will be able to reach. Both Tom Hardy and Charlize Theron have such testerone-filled performances (yes, she would kick my ass), I’m empowered just watching them!
The Martian: Ground control to Major Tom, oops I mean Mark Watney, you are lucky to be alive. What I really took away from this movie was the entire vulnerability of the situation, from the delicate ecosystem that Mark creates, to his trek across the Mars expanse to reach the rendezvous point. I felt as alone and afraid as our hero, seeing that world through well-crafted eyes. As a man, I can’t remember the last time I felt this vulnerable with a film, which is a testament to the visual focus of Ridley Scott.
Star Wars: The Force Awakens: X-wing fighters flying across the water, a Millenium Falcon thrown around like a kid with a BMX bike, a flippin’ Death Planet (forget a puny star), a close up of Kylo Ren’s lightsaber and a droid that is everything we loved about R2D2 thirty years ago. Every boy’s (and girl’s, thanks to Rey) fantasy of adventure is painted across the screen by Abrams. The beauty of special effects, while taking front stage, never dimnishes the story of Star Wars and the characters we care so deeply about.
Sean Ackerman, The Good Men Project Author
Star Wars: The Force Awakens: I don’t mean to sound like a ten-year-old, but when I consider the weapons and machines in Star Wars, I immediately think of penis (lightsabers) and testicles (spaceships). Perhaps indicating a means of compensating for other shortcomings? Kylo Ren fails to exude the confidence and prowess of Vadar, and his command of a larger Death Star certainly points to a need to prove his manhood.
Gail Hoffer-Loibl, The Good Men Project Author
Rather than comment on any particular film in this category, let me comment on their visual effects in general. I can’t remember a year where I saw so many movies that completely transported me to another time and place. From Star Wars: The Force Awakens to The Martian, and The Revenant to Mad Max: Fury Road (I haven’t seen Ex Machina), I was truly amazed at how a movie can make me feel something (which is part of what movies and stories are supposed to do).
I’ll never forget my giddy anticipation, sitting in a movie theater on December 18, with my 11-year-old son, my brother, and my nephew. I had an absolute blast watching The Force Awakens, and I had just as much fun at the other movies I mentioned (although many times I go to the movies by myself, late in the evening). The visual effects in movies this past year have been truly remarkable, and I salute the artists who can transport us to another time and place so completely with their wizardry in visual effects.
Kent Sanders, Lead Editor at The Good Men Project
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