I don’t know about you but for me, the first few minutes of a film are often the most crucial. They determine whether I’m really going to concentrate during the whole film or just sit there and tear it to pieces.
Some films surpass all my expectations with their opening sequences. For these few minutes I’m utterly glued to my seat in rapture as I watch the genius unfold. Sometimes the opening sequence has little to do with the film itself but rather it is an animated opening or photo stills set to a good song, at other times it might just be the first few breathtaking minutes of the film the just make you want MORE. Anyhow, here they are, my top five favourite opening sequences to films:
5. X-Men 2
After an ok first film, great things were needed from the sequel to qualify it as a good sequence of films (too bad about the third one though eh?). X2 is one of the few examples of a sequel being even better than the original. Though mind you, this does tend to happen more with superhero films, think Spiderman 2 and Dark Knight. I digress.
In this opening sequence, the mutant Nightcrawler storms the Whitehouse taking out every single one of the hapless Special Forces guys trying to protect the president to the backdrop of ominous opera music. Nightcrawler can teleport, leaving a cloud of inky coloured particles wherever he disappears. Bodies and bullets fly through the air as the awesome mounts. His power is one of the cooler abilities seen in the X-Men trilogy and it is used to the maximum level of coolness. This short sequence just made me hungry for more and the film thankfully didn’t disappoint.
4: Spiderman 2
Like X-Men, the Spiderman series of films really took off with the second instalment (and then took a huge nosedive for the third). I love how this opening sequence starts even with the Columbia lady on her pedestal. Danny Elfman’s score is pitch perfect for this film and it builds superbly from the first note. When the drums start, you get all excited and then it’s not just the music that carries you along, it’s the retelling of the first film through drawings so that you’re totally up to speed on everything you need to know.
This opening really grabbed my attention and I must admit that the film is absolutely fantastic. The first, and definitely the third, films I can take or leave but Spiderman 2 is exactly the film it wants to be. It even made me like Tobey Maguire’s acting and that’s quite an achievement.
3: Superman Returns
Anybody notice how all the films so far have been about superheroes? Maybe they all just have some budget left over so they spend it on the opening sequence.
Anyhow, when I went to see Superman Returns in the cinema, I was incredibly excited. When the film started with these opening credits, my jaw dropped to the floor. I think that this was one of the first times that I’d really noticed just how amazing CG sequences could be.
That haunting bugle theme just piques our interest and then we get the shot of a planet. Then a SUPERNOVA. Then nothing, just the wind. But wait! The drums have started and now the orchestra starts those three notes. Then we have what is, quite simply, one of the best theme tunes of all time. We’re flying around these planets and it is just such a spectacular experience.
This YouTube clip is obviously not going to give you the same thrill as I got in the cinema with surround sound and an immense screen but it’ll still make you go wow.
2: Kill Bill: Volume I
We all know that Quentin Tarantino is an utter genius. He is the master of slick, quirky, clever, and incredibly funny dialogue not to mention the rest of his many talents. So picking just one film of his was quite a task. I could have chosen Pulp Fiction with its scene in the diner but instead I chose the beginning of Kill Bill.
At the start all you can hear is breathing, but it’s quite clear that the person breathing is incredibly scared. When the picture arrives, we see that it’s Uma Thurman all battered bloodied and panting for her life. There are ominous footsteps. Then follows a fantastic little piece of dialogue, though actually it’s more of a monologue, I can’t begin to describe so you’ll have to watch it yourself. It makes you utterly detest and hate Bill from the first few seconds of the film, even though we don’t see him until the final minute of the film.
Let me warn you that it’s a bit bloody so those of you with a nervous disposition might want to look away. Sadly I couldn’t find a YouTube clip which has the opening credits as well as the scene. I really like them because they’re set to a good song but well here’s the most I could find:
1: Casino Royale
As a rule, Bond films tend to have a funky opening sequence. Sometimes they’re awful like in Die Another Day (was there anything good about that film) and at other times they’re cheesy like in EVERY OTHER BOND FILM.
Casino Royale was the reboot of the series and what a reboot it was! Even if you didn’t like the film, you had to like the first half an hour at least.
It was the opening that did it for me though. We weren’t sure that we were going to get the whole turn and shoot the camera thing but when it came – it was good!
Then came a sequence I can only describe as divinely inspired. You might not know this about me but I really love symmetry. I mean, like, I have an unhealthy obsession with it. It makes me feel so happy, it almost turns me on.
These opening credits were just so stuffed full symmetry that I was grinning ear to ear in the cinema. The song for the film is also pretty good – Chris Cornell of Sound Garden fame gives us a fantastic tune.
In short, I can’t think of anything wrong with this sequence and I often just watch the film just because of these few minutes.
Observe just how much excellence you can pack into four minutes and three seconds.
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