Occasionally I play video games like Medieval II: Total War
or Supreme Commander
, and whenever I see large scale battles being fought in real-time on my modest personal computer, I am reminded of the epic movies of the fifties and sixties. The leaps and bounds with which this technology has evolved is astounding.
Originally I wanted this list to be about computer enabled battles, but I was soon drowning in titles. Computers now play an essential part in every movie which needs huge crowds: it's cheaper to render them than to rent them. Be it Goth warriors battling Romans in Gladiator
or Chinese eh... military consultants crossing the Korean border in Taegukgi
, computer generated battles are now quite common.
But the biggest added value of the use of computers is the total freedom it allows the director, and especially in the genres of Science Fiction and Fantasy this relatively new tool has eagerly been used to show us battles that REALLY couldn't be done otherwise.
So this list will be about Computer Enabled Fantastic Battles. I mean, Stanley Kubrick showed the world what amazing things you could do with 8500 extras in Spartacus, but without computers even he would have had a problem with the smallest of skirmishes in my top seven.
The Star Wars Prequels.
I’ll be the first to admit that there are basically three classic Star Wars films, and episodes 1, 2 and 3 aren’t them. So let’s put that whole discussion aside and focus on the sheer spectacle on display in the prequels.
George Lucas got a new set of toys from his effects company ILM to use for the prequels, and he famously kept fiddling with them until the last minute before release. The results were there: each special effects moneyshot of these new movies was gorgeously composited. You could hang them on a wall, framed, and the battle scenes really showed that.
Robots, clones, tanks, monsters... seeing these scenes in a cinema really paid off.
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