The latest entry in the Fast and the Furious franchise is apparently on-track to crush April box office records. There’s a plethora of reasons why the series has been so successful – this entry in particular attracting attention after the death of actor Paul Walker – but its greatest asset might be its continued use real, practical effects. In era when films can use CGI to portray all manner of spectacle (something that audiences no longer find as appealing), the Fast and the Furious movies still use real cars and real stuntwork. Yes, even Furious 7‘s ridiculous cars-falling-out-of-a-plan scene actually happened.
HitFix quickly points out that despite the recent glut of CGI, Furious 7 is only the most recent movie to use practical effects in stunning ways. Writer Emily Rome points out twelve other examples – some recent, some quite old – when filmmakers did the real thing instead of faking it. Our favorite tidbit? Christopher Nolan actually upended a truck in Chicago’s financial district for The Dark Knight. And the Red Sea in the 1956’s The Ten Commandments came as close to parting as possible: effects workers simulated the scene by reversing footage of a studio tank filling up from the sides.
The human eye can somehow tell when something is computer-animated. Films like the ones mentioned by HitFix might have cost more to produce, but they undeniably pack powerful that you can’t get from rendering software. Pick up the DVDs for any of those films and check out the special features for more in-depth looks at how they pulled off their madness.