But what are the movie moments that don’t necessarily inspire that response within the film, but instead make us as audience members want to stand up and applaud? Personal tastes obviously make a difference. My youngest child thinks that the unveiling of the Dinobots in Transformers: Age of Extinction is awesome, whereas plenty of others could not give two hoots. Which is a long-winded way of saying that this list might not be for everyone. There is a semantic distinction to draw between “awe-inspiring” and “cool”, so certain SFX sequences don’t necessarily make the list. There are also many, many “clever” movie Easter eggs which could be included, but they are too many to mention. We’re thinking things like the Alien skull on display in the trophy room at the end of Predator 2, or the VW Bug in the car lot in the first Transformers film. Nice little touches, but not likely to engender a standing ovation.
1. Godzilla unleashes an atomic blast (Godzilla)
Gareth Edwards took Godzilla very seriously for his film version. In a good way. Think of something calamitous like Green Lantern – all po-faced seriousness when what was needed was some Thor-like self-effacement. Here, a camp, self-aware aesthetic was not needed, just something considerably better acted, written, directed and thought-through than Roland Emmerich’s horrific late-90’s effort.
The build-up marketing campaign was intelligent and sparing and the final film effective and affecting, finally introducing Godzilla to Western audiences as a sympathetic hero, rather than the simplistic destroyer of Manhattan we saw from Emmerich and Devlin. There was plenty of destruction, but it had context and it meant something.
What really generated the much-needed wow factor though, was the much unexpected but hugely enjoyable unleashing of Godzilla’s atomic blast. He’s going at it hammer and tongs with a pair of MUTOs and seems to be on the back foot, when suddenly his tail and then spine start to light up. When he then finally blasted his hapless victim, my son and I could not help but be impressed. A beautiful but also thrilling moment of epic coolness.