The Thrilling Three
April 9, 2014 13 Comments
You’re all familiar with Disney’s phenomenal five (Mermaid, Beauty, Aladdin, Lion, and Frozen). But let’s look at the other end of the genre spectrum – suspense and thrillers.
There are three movies that I think are the masters of suspense, and they conveniently fall into three of the seven narrative conflicts (man vs. man, man vs. God, man vs. nature, man vs. science, man vs. technology, man vs. self, man vs. supernatural).
Let’s take a look at my top three picks.
Jurassic Park (m v. s) – You can watch almost any of Spielberg’s movies and rightly claim that it’s his best. Jurassic Park is certainly one such movie. He builds suspense in the first half of the movie by giving the allusion that something is about to go terribly wrong in the amusement park. And in the second half, when the electricity goes out, that anxiety and those nerve pay off. I still consider Jurassic Park to be amongst one of the greatest thrillers of all time. (By the way, who’s pumped about JPIV??)
Speed (m v. m) – For man v. man, this was a toss up between Speed and River Wild. You’d think that River Wild would have come out on top, considering how badly Dennis Hopper butchers his character (and how naturally creepy Kevin Bacon is), but it’s just a little easier to believe in a highjacked bus than a family vacation gone wrong where the bad guys could very well just walk along the river to their freedom.
Twister (m v. n) – Am I really outdated for still liking this movie? I’ve seen plenty of disaster films from Dante’s Peak to 2012. But nothing has yet to come close to Helen Hunt’s desperation to get the Dorothy to fly and warn neighbors of the impending doom. Plus, the soundtrack is awesome to listen to when you’re driving through a wild storm in the summer.
(A fun fact: Those three movies are all related. Twister was made by the producer of Jurassic Park and the director of Speed.)
I’ve yet to come up with the ultimate movies for man v. God, man v. supernatural, man v. society, man v. technology, and man v. self (can I nominate my book The Man in the Box for this last one?).
Do you agree with my three picks? Do you have any suggestions for the other narrative conflicts (book or movie)? If so, list them below!