Directed by Renny Harlin
Visual Effects Supervisor: Jeffrey A. Okun

Visual Effects Produced by:


Renny Harlin, the director of such effects-laden films as DIE HARD 2 and CLIFFHANGER, as well as the debacle CUTTHROAT ISLAND, brings us his latest action thriller, THE LONG KISS GOODNIGHT. The film's effects (around 500 digital composites) were supervised by Jeff Okun, who also oversaw the effects for Roland Emmerich's STARGATE.

The most spectacular sequences of the film include Geena Davis and Samuel L. Jackson running from a grenade's blast path, and the climactic tanker explosion at the end of the movie.

Although the scene suffers from numerous realistic and physical unbelivabilities, the former sequence is very exciting and well-crafted by Digiscope, which handled some 60 shots for the film. Davis and Jackson run down a hallway, evading the blast of a recently detonated grenade, with the fireball just feet behind them. A pyro explosion was filmed through a scale-miniature of the hallway painted black, providing the fireball behind the actors. The composites in this scene were crisp and believable--the camera was dollying backwards, and camera shake was considerable. The fireball matched each frame, and blended perfectly.

The final sequence of the film was produced with a myriad of techniques. Miniatures of the tanker were used for its ramming of a concrete wall and its subsequent flip and slide. Nearly every bridge shot was a digital composite, since the water below and an appropriate background had to be matted into each shot.

The tanker filled with explosives
blasts through a concrete wall.

The bridge between America and
Canada explodes in a huge fireball.

The explosion itself looks really nice onscreen, mainly due to the miniature's huge size. The fifth scale model was over 150 feet long, and the size of the model certainly helps the realism of the sequence. Download a quicktime of the bridge explosion sequence from the LONG KISS web site.

Todd A/O Digital Images produced 55 shots for the film, including many invisible effects that are almost too good to be true. Early in the film, Geena Davis displays her newly realized talent for chopping carrots. The camera tilts up from the furious chopping to Davis' face, clearly showing the audience that Davis is actually doing the cutting... or is she? A seamless morph between a real-life chef and Davis was used for the awesome scene. TDI worked on many of the Niagra Falls composites against the sometimes CG, sometimes miniature bridge. Among other CG creations, TDI created CG cars that fly out of the massive explosion and land around the heroes' car. TDI also performed a face replacement for the scene where a sitting Samuel L. Jackson is blown through a window. The stuntman's face was replaced with Jackson's and TDI also composited various CG fire and smoke effects into the fantasic shot.

Many composites consisted of digital removals, adjustments and augmentations. A few composites near the end are quite goofy, including a few when Davis and the bad guy are hanging on a net underneath the bridge, and as Davis and Jackson are driving away from the explosion.

Renny Harlin certainly understands the language of visual effects--I only wish he could craft some of his effects shots better. In each of his films, he tries to use effects to get a shot that is absolutely impossible to get in real life. The goal is admirable, but the shots he designs scream "This is a visual effect!" In DIE HARD 2 (visual effects produced by ILM), John McClane ejects himself from a downed aircraft, just as it explodes. From the God's-Eye-Cam, hundreds of feet in the air, McClane zooms up toward the camera as the explosion envelops the frame. VFX supervisor Michael McAlister had his concerns: "There are certain kinds of effects shots that call attention to themselves because they defy reality--and the ejection seat shot is one of those shots." [Cinefex 45]

Harlin designed a few more of these shots for CLIFFHANGER (visual effects by Boss Film Studios). In one shot, Sylvester Stallone is climbing a mountain, as the camera pulls back, back, back, all the way back to reveal the entire mountain. The shot suffered from the same reality-problem as the DIE HARD 2 shot.

Harlin continued this trend in THE LONG KISS GOODNIGHT. The hallway scene described above is a perfect example. Although skillfully produced, the shot absolutely suffers from a reality problem. These shots just don't sit well with me and the rest of the audience, since they simply are too good to be true.

Source: Michael McAlister's DIE HARD 2 quote from Cinefex 45.

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