Man vs. Beast
Writer: Elaine Ewe
There's always something appealing about the theme of man versus beast, because of the questions it raises such as 'How far can a man be pushed before he takes up the fight?' and 'What differentiates man from beast?' Or we could all just admit that there is that sadist streak in all of us that thrills at the sight of humans getting mauled by beasts or vice versa, but shame on you for advocating animal killing! With Jonathan Liebesman's "Wrath Of The Titans" out soon, the sequel to "Clash Of The Titans" about Perseus, the demigod son of Zeus who now has to rescue his father from Hades, and overthrow the Titans to save mankind, read on to find out what other cinematic moments are as awe-inspiring as or better than Perseus's upcoming battle with the Titans.
The Birds (1963)
Who would have thought that birds can be such deadly creatures? Helmed by the master of thrillers himself, Alfred Hitchcock crafted a story loosely based on the 1952 story "The Birds" by Daphne du Maurier, where Bodega Bay, California suddenly and for unexplained reasons, becomes the subject of a series of widespread and violent bird attacks over the course of a few days. Melanie Daniels (Tippi Hedren) and Mitch Brenner (Rod Taylor) are the couple who fall in love amid this calamity, which just makes for more drama, as Hitchcock was able to insert a scene where the hysterical mother accuses Melanie of being the cause of the attacks. Cool story, man.
Heart-pounding moment: Melanie and Mitch's family board themselves up in the Brenners' house as birds try to break into the house.
For a movie named after the titular creature, the shark is hardly shown in the first half of the movie. Steven Spielberg's thriller relies on a minimalistic theme, using only representative props and a soundtrack with a single note to suggest the presence of a threat, mirroring the directorial style of the legendary Alfred Hitchcock. The film tells the story of a shark attack in the fictional summer resort town of Amity Island, which prompts the town's police chief (Roy Scheider) to initiate a hunt with a professional shark hunter (Robert Shaw) and marine biologist (Richard Dreyfuss). Needless to say, they definitely needed a bigger boat.
Jurassic Park (1993)
Heart-pounding moment: Quint and Brody raise the cage that Hooper was in only to find it mangled and Hooper missing, following which the Great White shark leaps upon the Orca, Quint's vessel, causing Quint to slip down the deck into the its mouth.
Spielberg once again proves himself to be a movie maestro with yet another monster movie in the list, which also became an industry milestone for displaying some of the best visual effects within that decade. Based on the novel of the same name by Michael Crichton, "Jurassic Park" starred Sam Neill, Laura Dern, Jeff Goldblum as a group of scientists who journey to the fictional Isla Nublar near Costa Rica in the Central American Pacific Coast, where the billionaire philanthropist (Richard Attenborough) and a small team of genetic scientists have created an amusement park of cloned dinosaurs. Awe and wonder then turn into shock and terror when a rival corporation's spy decides to steal dinosaur embryos and accidentally deactivates the park's security system, which unleashes one very mean Tyrannosaurus Rex.
The Edge (1997)
Heart-pounding moment: Hammond's two grandchildren, Tim (Joseph Mazzello) and Lex Murphy (Ariana Richards) are left alone in the kitchen as Grant goes to find Sattler and the others, where they are forced to play a game of hide-and-seek with two raptors.
Not many have heard of "The Edge", a survival drama directed by Lee Tamahori, starring Anthony Hopkins and Alec Baldwin, but it is the movie that provides the precedent for "The Grey", seeing that both share almost the same premise, except that Hopkins and Baldwin fought a bear instead of wolves. Charles Morse (Anthony Hopkins), a billionaire, and two other men, Robert "Bob" Green (Alec Baldwin), a photographer, and Stephen (Harold Perrineau), his assistant, arrive in a remote North America locale via Charles's private jet. Circumstances cause Charles to suspect that his wife is having an affair with Bob, but the group then crash-lands in the middle of a forest in a lake, where they are soon stalked by a Kodiak bear. As if that is not bad enough, Charles soon discovers that there is more than just a bear who wants him dead.
Heart-pounding moment: The Bear finds them, which results in a deadly struggle on a river bed.
Based on the giant monster classic "Godzilla", the movie is directed by disaster film veteran Roland Emmerich, about the effects of nuclear radiation on other species. Following a nuclear incident in French Polynesia, a lizard's nest is irradiated by the fallout of subsequent radiation, which causes it to grow to gigantic proportions and terrorize New York City. In the centre of this incident is Dr. Niko Tatopoulos (Matthew Broderick), an American scientist who is hired to help contain and subdue the creature referred to as Godzilla ("Gojira!").
Heart-pounding moment: Dr. Tatopoulos, Philippe Roaché (Jean Reno) and the group discover a nest of eggs made by Godzilla in the underground subway tunnels to Madison Square Garden. When they attempt to destroy them by planting explosives, the eggs suddenly hatch and begin attacking the group.
"Anaconda" may not have done very well among critics, but who can deny the impact it made in movie industry as Jennifer Lopez, Ice Cube, Jon Voight, Eric Stoltz and Owen Wilson are hunted down by the very reptile they seek to hunt. The film itself became the subject of controversy after actors Ice Cube and Owen Wilson were almost fatally injured by the live anaconda used on set. In summary, the film centres on a film crew for National Geographic who are conned by a hunter into aiding him in going after the world's largest giant anaconda in the Amazon Rainforest.
Brotherhood Of The Wolf (2001)
Heart-pounding moment: As Terri and Danny recuperate on a nearby dock; the giant anaconda turns out to be alive and attacks them.
A French film directed by Christophe Gans and headed by a bunch of relatively unknowns, save for Vincent Cassel and Monica Bellucci, "Brotherhood Of The Wolf" is an example of a film that plays on the question of what differentiates man from beast. Despite its occasional drag, the film manages to hold up its own mystery well as it weaves the tale of a real-life series of killings that took place in France in the 18th century and the famous legend around the Beast of Gévaudan. Grégoire de Fronsac (Samuel Le Bihan) is a knight and the royal taxidermist of King Louis XV of France, who arrives in Gévaudan to capture the famed beast with his Iroquois companion Mani (Mark Dacascos), only to find himself embroiled in a web of intrigue, lies and conspiracy.
King Kong (2005)
Heart-pounding moment: Fronsac, Mani, and the Marquis set out into the forest and set up an array of traps to capture the Beast, only to find their efforts in vain. After a violent encounter, Mani sets off solo in pursuit, where he finds a catacomb used as the Beast's holding pen, inhabited by the Brotherhood and a band of Gypsies working with them. Mani is proves to be no match for them and is killed, but not before slaughtering a good number of his attackers.
Modern technology certainly has done wonders for this remake of the 1933 film of the same name. With Andy Serkis providing a motion-capture performance as Kong, the giant gorilla who bonds with vaudeville actress Ann Darrow (Naomi Watts), Peter Jackson's "King Kong" is both heartbreaking and thrilling to watch. There are plenty of men versus beast moments here even before the crew meets Kong himself, such as dinosaurs and giant insects.
Snakes On A Plane (2006)
Heart-pounding moment: Kong climbs with Ann onto the Empire State Building, where he fights off planes sent to attack him, managing to bring down three of them before he was hit severely with gunfire from the surviving planes. Kong then gazes at a distraught Ann for the last time before falling off the building to his death.
Considering the movies that made it into this list, it is safe to say that reptiles are the most vicious beasts known to mankind, specifically snakes, although Samuel L. Jackson is equally terrifying as the swearing FBI agent assigned to protect a trial witness named Sean Jones (Nathan Phillips) on a plane. Why the villain chose to release hundreds of venomous snakes as opposed to just bombing the plane remains to be seen as it certainly took a whole lot more effort in getting the job done (To ensure the snakes attack the passengers without being provoked, his henchmen disguised as airport ground employees to spray the passengers with a special pheromone which make the snakes more aggressive in their attack) and not very successfully, we might add.
The Grey (2012)
Heart-pounding moment: Some of the snakes attack Rick (David Koechner), the co-pilot, and while fending them off he accidentally releases the oxygen masks throughout the plane, which also drops all the snakes into the cabin with the passengers.
Although it makes sense that Liam Neeson and his group would be attacked by the wolves, this is one merciless pack, considering that none of them actually did anything to the wolves beforehand. The story follows a number of men stranded in Alaska after a plane crash, who are forced to survive using little more than their wits as a pack of wolves stalk them, or rather, forced to rely on Liam Neeson and his badassness in order to survive a little longer than those who did not.
Cinema Online, 20 March 2012
Heart-pounding moment: Ottway and Hendrick fall into the river while they were being chased by wolves and Hendrick gets his leg stuck between underwater rocks.