Thursday, March 13, 2008

Dinosaur Movies: Part 7


If I absolutely had to pick my favorite movie special effects scene, I admit I would have a bit of a struggle. The Kong vs. T-Rex fight from the original King Kong would be on the short list. So would Ray Harryhausen-animated scenes such as Medusa in Clash of the Titans and the skeleton fight from Jason and the Argonauts.

But I might, in the end, go with the cowboys vs. Allosaurus scene from The Valley of Gwangi. A few men on horseback go after Gwangi the dinosaur with lassos, hoping to rope him into submission and use him as part of their Wild West show.

They don't stand a chance, of course, but it's a worthy effort.

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The Valley of Gwangi is a little slow getting started--the human characters are only mildly interesting and it takes 'em all a bit too long to get to that darn valley. But once there, the movie takes off like a bullet. They encounter a pterodactyl, which almost makes off with the young boy who accompanies them. Then they run into Gwangi. This eventually leads to their attempt to lasso the big guy. Gwangi drives off the humans and has a nifty fight with a styracosaurus before he's eventually caught and brought back to civilization.

Bringing a prehistoric creature back to civilization is never a good idea, though. Gwangi gets away, fights an elephant and stalks the hero through a huge cathedral.

All of this is made to work by Harryhausen's astonishing skill as an animator. He gives Gwangi life and personality--I love the brief moment where Gwangi pauses to scratch his nose. And--as I stated above--the scene in which the cowboys try to lasso the beast is simply magnificent.

This ends the dinosaur movie series--there's a lot more dino movies out there, but I've covered the cream of the pre-CGI crop. I will return to the subject of dinosaurs in popular fiction from time to time, though. Dinosaurs are, after all, far too cool to ignore.

2 comments:

  1. I hadn't heard of that movie before, Thanks!

    ReplyDelete
  2. You're welcome. It is out on DVD--it's worth renting or Netflixing for the lasso-the-allosaur sequence alone.

    ReplyDelete

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