18 Visually Stunning Films to Blow Your Mind
By Angie Barry / MyWebTimes
When it comes to movies, I'm hardly a snob.
I own both Jesus Christ Vampire Hunter, an action film-slash-musical where the Son of God karate chops vampires, and the Oscar-winning Gothic romance Rebecca. I like comic book movies, I'm a fan of Disney. I enjoy kung fu flicks, I love fantasy epics.
Sure, some movies are undeniably better than others, and I savor those with sterling performances and superb production values. But even so-called "bad" movies have their place and serve their purpose.
At the end of the day, all I really want is to be entertained. Maybe that means sparkling, oh-so-quotable dialogue. Maybe that means bright colors and a bass-heavy soundtrack. Maybe it means explosions and car chases, or buckets of romantic yearning.
And sometimes it means being blown away by sumptuous scenery, incredible special effects and stunning costumes. This week, I'm delivering a sprawling list (in no particular order) of vastly different films that have at least one thing in common: they deliver an astounding feast for the eyes.
1. "INCEPTION" (2010). In Christopher Nolan's literally mind-bending heist caper, you never know when the scenery will change without warning as the world around the characters becomes a shifting Rubix cube.
2. "HOUSE OF FLYING DAGGERS" (2004). The saturated colors, elaborate fight choreography and gorgeous costuming makes this wuxia ("martial heroes") romance a vibrant heart-breaker.
3. "THE CELL" (2000). A psychologist travels into the mind of a comatose serial killer to save a trapped girl, and finds a disturbingly nightmarish landscape heavily inspired by trippy artwork from the likes of Odd Nedrum, H.R. Giger and Damien Hirst, with crazy costuming courtesy of Eiko Ishioka.
4. "WHAT DREAMS MAY COME" (1998). Based on a book by Richard Matheson, "Dreams" — a story about a man who dies, then risks Heaven to save his wife from Hell — won a well-deserved Oscar for Best Visual Effects. It's a soul-crushing, beautiful and ultimately uplifting movie.
5. "INTO THE SPIDER-VERSE" (2018). This animated Spidey flick does the impossible: it melds almost every art style — from spray-painted graffiti and 3-D to CGI, from black and white comics to Japanese anime and Looney Tunes — into a seamless, joyful, technicolor adventure with genuine heart.
6. "THE FOUNTAIN" (2006). As is only befitting a reincarnation/immortality romance that spans centuries, this film has some of the most gorgeous costuming and psychedelic imagery imaginable.
7. "MIRRORMASK" (2005). A mixture of puppetry courtesy of the Jim Henson Company and bizarre character designs by Dave McKean makes this Neil Gaiman tale of a young girl, her circus performer family and a magical world into fantastical eye-candy.
8. "DARK CITY" (1998). Dieselpunk is a sadly tiny genre, and "Dark City" may be the best entry to date. Perfect if you want to see the Sam Spade and Philip Marlowe noirs of the '40s blended with psychokinesis and reality-altering aliens.
9. "THE THIEF AND THE COBBLER" (1992). An animated film that took four decades to make, "Cobbler" features M.C. Escher-style backgrounds with a Persian flare and characters that are unique and grotesque.
10. "SIN CITY" (2005). Possibly the most faithful comic book adaptation yet. Starkly black and white save for carefully chosen splashes of color, few films have used silhouettes to such effect.
11. "SPEED RACER" (2008). The Wachowski Sisters' loving adaptation of the Japanese manga/anime classic is horribly underrated, and features truly thrilling race sequences in candy-colored, hyper-stylized locales.
12. "THE FALL" (2006). In 1915 Los Angeles, an injured stuntman weaves a fantastical tale about heroes fighting an evil governor for a little girl in a hospital. The costumes by the great Eiko Ishioka are fabulous, as is the fact that NONE of the sumptuous imagery in this Tarsem Singh film was produced by CGI — it's all real people, animals and practical effects on location in over 20 countries.
13. "THE FIFTH ELEMENT" (1997). The distant future is full of neon lights, interstellar cruise liners, opera-singing aliens and gonzo, over-the-top Jean-Paul Gaultier fashion.
14. "RE-CYCLE" (2006). A popular romance author decides to try her hand at writing horror, only to follow her new character into a hellish world of the dead and forgotten heavily influenced by Chinese beliefs.
15. "MOANA" (2016). One of Disney's most colorful, visually rich films, from the lair of the jewel-encrusted giant crab Tamatoa to the lush tropical islands, goofy coconut-shelled pirates and glowing nightscapes. The details and Polynesian culture makes this one worth multiple rewatches.
16. "HERO" (2002). We're shown three different takes on the same story of assassins, split into five sections, each color-coded with beautifully stylized fight choreography in the fashion made famous by "Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon."
17. "ANNIHILATION" (2018). An all-female team of scientists enter an alien-created zone on Earth called The Shimmer in order to study it, and find bizarre hybrid mutations of plants and animals. The human-shaped plants and deer with flowering antlers are straight out of a dark fairy tale.
18. "HELLBOY II: THE GOLDEN ARMY" (2008). Visual genius Guillermo del Toro yet again delivers the goods with this action-packed fantasy adventure that sweeps the heroes from the leaf-strewn throne room of the Elven King to the steampunky Goblin's Market and the underground, clockwork-heavy resting place of the titular army.
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