I typically end up missing out on most kid films during their theatrical runs (there just isn't enough time to catch all the G-Forces of the world), but I recently caught up with the money-making monster that is Ice Age: Dawn of the Dinosaurs from the comfort of my own couch. Between watching baby dinosaurs swallow other baby Ice Age critters and thinking about winter's approach, my mind soon drifted towards some of my favorite ice-set moments in film.
I don't know what it is, but having nice, frozen centerpieces in a flick always lure me in. Though I do have my limits, as you won't be finding any of the brain pain that is 10,000 BC on here. Note, these are in no order of importance.
5) A.I.: Artificial Intelligence
If you haven't seen the best science fiction film Steven Spielberg has ever made (yep, I'm one of those weirdos who likes A.I. more than Close Encounters of the Third Kind), you might want to skip down to number 4 as the following is a spoiler. Consider yourself warned. The ending of A.I. is, on its own, a bittersweet thing of beauty, but what makes it so wonderfully inspired is the revelation that David has become frozen in time. Seeing him ensconced in ice combined with all the technology that is used to dig him out provides a fascinating backdrop for the film's final revelation. The fact that he's survived an ice age (maybe even more than one) is a bit over shadowed by the exchange that happens next, but I always found that icy setting to be yet another one of the subtle ways Spielberg throws the audience off their game in A.I.
4) The Thing
Ah, of course John Carpenter's masterpiece The Thing is a must for a list like this, particularly from a horror nut like me who considers it the best horror movie ever made. Since the whole movie takes place entirely in the Antarctic, there are plenty of favorite moments to chose from. I'm a big fan of the sequence in which Kurt Russell and co. explore the inexplicably destroyed remains of the Norwegians' base camp, which has been essentially turned into an ice cave. And even though the image of the researcher who slit his wrists, his blood frozen in air like a red waterfall, has always stuck with me, I've gotta say my favorite moment is the conversation R.J. MacReady and Childs have while sitting in the fire-lit powder, pondering their snow-trapped options. It's such a perfectly played, deftly ambiguous moment that I'll always instantly associate with The Thing.
3) Superman Returns
I know I'm in the minority of those who not only liked Bryan Singer's reboot (is it still called a reboot if no sequels come of it?) of Superman, but who actually watches it once or twice a year. But even if you thought Superman Returns was too long, or too light on action, it's tough to not enjoy what Singer did with Supes' Fortress of Solitude. The hero's hideout has always been a bit droll in film's past, but Singer not only turned it into a crystalline palace, but he leveraged the setting to bring back Marlon Brando as Superman's long-dead father. I've never been a fan of re-purposing an actor's likeness after they've died, but that's only because so few film's handle it with the utmost respect. Singer did, and the result is a truly memorable bit of icy movie magic.
2) Star Wars: Episode V - The Empire Strikes Back
You just cannot make a list about great cinematic moments in ice without mentioning Hoth. I could have easily monopolized this list with moments drawn only from Empire Strikes Back, what with all the Tauntaun slicing, Wampa fighting, and snowy aerial battles, but that would make for a redundant list. Instead I'll just go with Han sacrificing his poor Tauntaun to save Luke's life as my favorite Hoth moment. Seeing the animal not only killed, but Luke getting shoved into his/her's guts for warmth left quite the dent on my malleable juvenile mind at the time. As well it should have.
1) The Day After Tomorrow
I may never, ever, ever want to watch 10,000 BC again, but I'm still a fan of Roland Emmerich's special brand of putting on a disaster bonanza. Having not yet seen 2012, I can't say whether the director he tops his own bar set by The Day After Tomorrow or not, but nothing drops your jaw like the ending to his global warming effects extravaganza. And I'm not talking about it being a jaw dropping spectacle. A number of different things contribute to the agape mandible. It's stupid, ludicrous, and boggles the mind while you're watching it. But at the same time, seeing Jake Gylenhall try to outrun an ice age is so goofily awesome that it puts a smile on my face every time I see it, which is more times than I care to admit.