300 - The First Battle300 rolls out all the stops, from massive lobster-men to weird gyrating witch ladies to mostly naked Spartan warriors. It’s just a shame that Zack Snyder believed that all his battle sequences would be about a thousand times better if they were filmed in slow motion.
The first battle becomes increasingly confused and confusing, as Spartans crash into the Persian army and spears are thrown in hyper slow motion. This works fine for a few minutes, but after awhile it – like most of Snyder’s work – gets very boring and is certainly not as epic as the filmmakers intended it to be.
Man of Steel - The Final BattleOne of the secrets of a good fight sequence is not to let it overstay its welcome. Less is sometimes more, and showing an endless battle is not always the most interesting cinematic experience.
Superman’s fight with General Zod at the end of Man of Steel goes on interminably, as one fight scene devolves into another, until the pair finally wind up destroying most of Metropolis. What started out as an exciting showdown just becomes exhausting and by the end, we're left not caring very much for the outcome.
Mission: Impossible 2 - Motorcycle JoustFor a film that’s a somewhat decent entry into the Mission: Impossible franchise, this one certainly has its share of crazy fight sequences. The worst, though, is the final showdown between Ethan Hunt and villain Sean Ambrose as they battle it out on the sands…on motorcycles!
The idea of a motorcycle joust might sound awesome in concept, but this one fails to pull it off, as the pair literally launch themselves at each other, epically defying both the dictates of the human body and the basic physical laws of the universe.
The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug - Barrel RidingThe barrel sequence in The Hobbit is one of the most clever, iconic events in the novel. So, leave it to Peter Jackson to turn it into a ridiculous amalgam of CGI and defiance of physics.
It was sort of a toss-up between this scene and the endless chase around the Goblin lair for this spot, but I opted for this one because it includes two characters (Legolas and Tauriel) who were never even close to The Hobbit to begin with.
Transformers: Dark of the Moon - EverythingI would like to pick out just one fight sequence from this one, but really, the whole film is a big, bone-and-metal crunching fight scene. Once more, the idea of robots beating the hell out of other robots on crowded city streets might sound like a good idea on paper, but it needs at least a little coherency, if not nuance.
Instead what we get is too much noise, explosions, and big CGI robots crunching the heads of other big CGI robots. Was this really why cinema was invented?
The Matrix Revolutions - Neo vs. SmithWhen it comes to climactic fight scenes, it would be helpful if the scene was the actual climax. Unfortunately for the final showdown in The Matrix Revolutions, Neo and Agent Smith have been wrestling with each other for far too long to make this feel particularly immediate.
It’s not so much that the choreography is bad or that the CGI doesn’t hold up; it’s that by this point, many viewers have stopped caring. Finally, the entire sequence ends with one of the most annoying cop-outs in sci-fi history, as Neo is crucified and…something changes? Nothing changes? I’m not sure, but I do know that I don’t really care any more.