JURASSIC PARK (1993) “I was lucky enough to grow up in – in my opinion – one of the greatest periods of awesome films. That was the 80s and 90s, so it’s no surprise that this in on my list. My list will probably read like a cliché, but what can I say? I’m a sucker for action and adventure films! Jurassic Park was like my generation’s Star Wars, and I was the right age to understand the themes but still be in awe of the filmmaking. I was already a dinosaur nut before the film hit – my primary school teachers would send me to other classes to give a lecture on the different kinds of dinosaurs – but as we all know, the level of effects work that Steven Spielberg and his team accomplished was unbelievable. I remember becoming obsessed with the filmmaking process. I bought every book that I could about the film and how they made it. I still watch the film to this day, shake my head at the T-Rex attack scene, and just ask, ‘How?!’ It stands up so well compared to modern blockbusters. That scene is like the epitome of an action sequence. Just last year, I finally got to go to Oahu and did the movie tour, stopping at the filming locations in the valley. Now that was a boyhood dream come true!”
THE STAR WARS TRILOGY (1977-1983) “No, not the prequels, but the original trilogy. Yes, picking three is a cop out, but I can never decide! Star Wars just holds a special place in my heart. There’s a baby photo of me at the hospital surrounded with baby boy clothes, balloons, matchbox cars and yep: about 10 original Star Wars action figures. I was even in part named after Luke Skywalker (same initials!), and with every Christmas photo, the Star Wars toys grew. I could name the Rancor monster before I could name our dog! The films themselves are such technological achievements, but the core story of Luke Skywalker trying to find his place in the galaxy and then trying to redeem Darth Vader just always spoke to me and continues to do so. I mean, who hasn’t watched the sun set and dreamed for something else! If I had to pick, The Empire Strikes Back is my favourite.”
SAVING PRIVATE RYAN (1998) “What an experience watching this opening night on the big screen. The sound was blasting so much that it felt like the seats were moving. I don’t think the audience was expecting what we got. Nowadays, shaky war camera footage is the norm, along with tracer fire and really well done bullet wiz by’s, but back then it wasn’t really that known. It’s still my favourite war film hands down, if only for the direction in the battle scenes – most notably the first and last. It’s still the bench mark.”
DIE HARD (1988) “The ultimate action film, and pretty perfect in its own right. You can see Die Hard in so many action films since this, but nothing tops the original: the hero bleeds, he’s smart (and a smart ass), everything is there for a reason, and it has a great villain in Alan Rickman’s Hans Gruber. Seriously, if I could have Hans Gruber rock up in other films, I would…because he would show them how it’s done! Alan Rickman turned in such a good performance to counter balance Bruce…it’s just great to watch. This is also my favourite Christmas movie, and I’ve watched it every Christmas ever since owning the VHS! I would put The Rock (1996) on this list, but Die Hard is still the granddaddy of that too.”
TITANIC (1997) “It might seem like an odd choice, but this is the movie that actually made me walk out and say, ‘I want to make films.’ I was just finishing high school and ended up seeing it a record breaking (for me) ten times on the big screen! I can justify each one, I can assure you: each was with separate members of my family, friends, dates etc. I didn’t really set out to see it that many times, but it just pulled me in every single time. Not the love story so much, but the filmmaking on the epic scale: everything is meticulously recreated, and you could tell that James Cameron was trying to get as much out of the props or sets that they had made onto the screen. It was just oozing passion off the screen. It was probably the only film that actually got me a little emotional the first time that I watched it in the cinema (that and Toy Story 3). I probably haven’t seen it that many times since then, but I’ll never forget the feelings that I had watching it back in 1996/1997…both for the film and for my future.”
Red Billabong is currently screening in Queensland, Victoria, and NSW. For all venue details, head to the official Red Billabong website.