Fantasy and science fiction movies are notable for their amazing visuals, but the most cool thing about any science fiction film is that invariably there is a real human right in the midst of all the pandemonium. We wish to see ourselves in all human vulnerability and frailness superimposed against the mystery and danger of science fiction.
More often than not, it is up to the daring and fearless stunt performers to make it happen on-screen. Some times the one and only way to capture an incredibly cool moment of excitement and danger on-screen is to risk injury or even death of one of the scores of stunt men in Hollywood. Listed below are the top 6 incredible Death-Defying stunts from fantasy and science fiction movies that came really close to seriously injuring or even maiming or killing some one.
Death-Defying Stunts From Sci-Fi Movies
1) Dark Knight: Truck Flip
Chris Corbould, supervisor of special effects for the Dark Knight really did not wish to go ahead with this stunt as it was originally planned by director Christoper Nolan. Chris Corbould kept pushing Christopher Nolan to compromise on the type and size of the vehicle. Corbould was not even sure they could manage the truck flip leave alone doing it in the limited space of a street in Chicago.
If the vehicle got just a bit to one side, the truck would go through a building’s window. If the vehicle got just a bit off the mark, it would damage major portions of the street and infrastructure along with it. There were big concerns about not damaging government property and most of all, a stuntman was scheduled to drive the truck rather than using CGI effects.
Ultimately, Christopher Nolan used his influence to authorize enacting the stunt and issued instructions to the stunt coordinator to go ahead and just do the stunt. Stunt coordinator, Paul Jennings and Corbould and strapped a powerful piston to a truck, created a heavily reinforced roll cage for the vehicle and handed Jim Wilkey, stunt driver a launch remote. Surprisingly every thing went as planned during the trial run and Nolan got his picture perfect stunt, kudos to a daredevil stuntman and a determined stunt team.
2) Dark Knight Rises: Pit Climb
The relatively less awesome stunts are often the most difficult and dangerous, some times even life threatening making a huge impact for the worse on a stunt man’s body and psyche. Bobby Hanton Holland was a stunt double for actor Daniel Craig during the Quantum of Solace movie. He had also worked in Inception, Skyfall, and a few Harry Potter films as well as performing Batman’s physically demanding stunts in Dark Knight Rises.
Bobby Hanton Holland is definitely no stranger to demanding stunts physically. When asked during the interview if there had been a stunt that made him think twice whether to stay in the risky stunt business or leave it for good, he stated it was the pit climb stunt in the Dark Knight movie which was the most challenging in his entire career.
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In the Dark Knight movie, when he was climbing out of pit, there were a couple of moments that he tried to jump out and did not quite make it. It was a 150 feet free fall tethered to a cable which was slack and it had banged him in to the wall. It was a pretty harrowing experience he states. Stunts certainly do not get any bigger or better in terms of the risk involved than this one.
3) Catwoman: 27 Storey Jump
Zoe Bell had been a hardened and tough woman all her adult life. She had her breakthrough as actress Lucy Lawless stunt double in Warrior Princess Xena and Quentin Tarantino was so impressed with her, he stated about her in Death Proof Grindhouse, she is the lady riding on top of a car doing all her stunts on her own. In a candid interview, she quotes her most challenging stunt ever was the really long or so it seemed the 27 storey drop from the top of a building in the movie Catwoman.
Zoe Bell had been nominated for the Taurus, international stunt award for her efforts in that film. The somersaults that she performed during the fall and the spectacular 210 feet height made the stunt even more risky coupled with the fact that she has never done such a dangerous stunt in her career earlier. It was a real daredevil stunt to say the least.
Of note, a stunt man in the movie Avengers tripped during a 35 feet free fall and lost a sizable chunk of his scalp, a relatively less serious injury that can happen in the risk filled world of stunt artists in Hollywood. High budget films have all kinds of safety set ups. When Zoe Bell was doing back flips off a wall in the Xena series she was supported by cables, pulley, and other guys ready to support her in case of any unexpected mishaps.
4) Lord of the Rings – The Two Towers: Battle of Helm’s Deep
George Ruge, stunt coordinator for the movie, Lord of the Rings Two Towers, called the shooting of the stunt scenes for the film harrowing as he had to deal with the overwhelming logistic requirement of animals and people colliding into each other. George Ruge calls the shooting of the orcs scaling ladders as spectacular and incredible. Stunt man Baker who also played the role of Sauron when was not suited up as an orc had other choice words to describe the scenes namely agonizing.
Baker described the stunt, “There was a series of falls. There were 30 stuntmen and stunt-women falling within 3 seconds of one another. We had to hit the mats and then immediately move. Timing was critical to pull the stunt off. It is possibly the most difficult and challenging stunt I had ever attempted because I never knew what to expect.” he stated during an interview. The really fast pace of the stunt and the huge number of people involved in it, made what looks like a rather benign stunt really risky and dangerous.
5) The Matrix Reloaded: Ducati motorcycle scene
The complete sequence of Trinity whizzing past through dense traffic weaving between vehicles is fantastic and memorable. Stunt woman Debbie states the most dangerous and intense moment of filming happened as a huge truck almost mangled her against a wall and she had a providential escape with the truck missing her in a fraction of seconds.
The issue with real people performing stunts against CGI shots is that things keep changing constantly and get unpredictable and unreliable. Unpredictable denotes lesser margin for stuntman safety in the stunt industry. In one frame, the truck veered wildly and hit the wall just as she backed up.
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Debbie Evans the ever calm and collected stunt professional had heaved a sigh of relief when filming was complete. Stunt women often face more risk and danger than their male counter parts owing to their skimpy or tight costumes. There is no place to hide protective gear or padding.
Trinity’s skin-tight costume did not really permit safety gear other than some thin hip plates and shin guards apart from motorcyclist trousers. They wanted Debbie to crop her hair for the stunt part, but she had refused and insisted on wearing a wig. She stated the wig afforded her a little more protection and padding in case anything went wrong during the stunt.
6) Raiders of the Lost Ark: Truck Drag
This stunt specifically is listed out as one of the best and most dangerous movie stunts ever to be filmed in Hollywood. The stunt was so hazardous that stunt man Terry Leonard consented to go ahead and do it only if his buddy and co-stuntman Glenn Randall drove the truck. In the stunt scene, the stunt double Leonard climbs down from the hood of the truck and crawls under the bottom and then drag himself behind the truck using a whip. This scene is based on a famous stunt performed by Yakima Canutt during a 1940 movie called as Stage Coach.
Terry Leonard had very good reasons to be cautious of this specific stunt. When he attempted to do a similar stunt earlier the same year in the Legend of Lone Ranger movie, it went horribly wrong and his legs got crushed by a stage-coach which ran over him. He was still recovering from that incident when Raiders of the Lost Ark was filmed. Trying to perform a similar stunt once again this soon is pretty gutsy indeed.
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