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Lists Of Our Lifetime: Empire's Greatest Opening Scenes
Our selection of the very best movie beginnings from the 25 years of Empire

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To kick off a year-long celebration of the last 25 years' cinematic highlights, we count down the top 25 movie intros since Empire magazine arrived in 1989. (NB: credit sequences not included.)

WORDS DAN JOLIN
1 2 3 4 5
  1 of 5 Next

Flatliners

25

FLATLINERS (1990)
If you're making a film about students trying out death for kicks, there's no point going subtle. Tracking in over the ocean, we discover Kiefer Sutherland with a deliciously ironic line, "Today's a good day to die".


24

ALI (2001)
For pure filmmaking brio, Michael Mann assembles multiple threads into a dazzling montage-intro set to the beat of a fictionalised live performance of Sam Cooke's 'A Change Is Gonna Come'.


23

INDIANA JONES AND THE LAST CRUSADE (1989)
From the reveal gag, to the snakes explanation, to River Phoenix's note-perfect Harrison Ford impression, to the circus train chase, to Sean Connery's (voice) intro as daddy Dr. Jones... It's the greatest episode of Young Indiana Jones ever made.

 
Indiana Jones And The Last Crusade
 
22

FINAL DESTINATION (2000)
Your very worst flightmare made searingly real: the view from the inside of the exploding plane. And thus it established a whole new horror-sub-genre, where death itself is the stalker-slasher.


21

HEATHERS (1989)
Just three girls, idly playing croquet to 'Que Sera Sera'... Until their ball bonks violently off Winona Ryder's head, buried in the ground. Appropriately, deliciously subversive.

1 2 3 4 5
 
1 of 5
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Your Comments

1 Huge Exclusion
I know the list is going to be a very individual thing, but for me, Private Ryan is a massive exclusion, for tension building. Also (showing my age now) Alien for setting the atmosphere, and the first 10-15 mins of The Hunger (the one with David Bowie), was pretty 'in your face' for the time. More

Posted by acme01 on Monday April 14, 2014, 23:59

2 I would have included...
House of Flying Daggers, Moulin Rouge, Jurassic Park, Midnight in Paris, Life of Pi, 28 Days Later, Trance, Gladiator, Casino Royale More

Posted by JennyWy on Saturday February 1, 2014, 13:43

3 The Two Towers
Seriously, the first 5 minutes of that movie are sheer perfection More

Posted by Jasper_29 on Friday January 31, 2014, 11:17

4
Robert Zemeckis' incredible continuous shot at the start of Contact. More

Posted by flennen on Monday January 20, 2014, 02:13

5 A Poor List
I already replied to this, but my post either got lost or didn't make it. Thoroughly unspectacular bunch of openings in this list IMO. Dark Knight and The Matrix deserve their places for sure - not convinced by many of the others. Most of my favourites have already been mentioned - Blade, Watchmen, Star Trek (Reboot), Se7en and Lord of War. I also really like the opening of Transformers. For Pixar, Wall-E, Toy Story 2 & 3 and Cars 2 are all better than Up's actual opening scene. And for Tarantino, surely Reservoir Dogs trumps pretty much everything....even Inglorious Basterds. And quite how The Fellowship of the Ring and The Two Towers are both missing is simply beyond me. More

Posted by Hillsman on Monday January 13, 2014, 12:35

6 Saving Private Ryan
I don't think that Saving Private Ryan belongs to the list. It's just and old man and his family in a cemetary. Not exactly thrilling to me. Same goes for Heat. If I remember correctly, it's about Robert DeNiro's character taking a subway to a hospital and stealing an ambulance. Boogie Nights (great long shot), Miami Vice (drops you right there at the deep end and tells you to swim or sink), Fucking Åmål and Se7en (sets the mood perfectly for things to come, although you won't know it until you see it the second time), however, I would have liked to see on that list. More

Posted by mrojola on Monday January 13, 2014, 07:56

7 Keep The British End Up
whatever people may thing of the current craig bonds each have had brill pre credit bits. More

Posted by spark1 on Saturday January 11, 2014, 13:27

8
Dead Man's Shoes. No talking, just walking. Smog playing "Vessel in Vain". Awesome. More

Posted by kelchap on Friday January 10, 2014, 13:15

9 Fit Junkies
After all this time, I'm still at a loss as to how two heroin addicts can run all the way from Boots on Princes St to The Black Bull on Leith St and not actually fall over. More

Posted by BRob on Thursday January 9, 2014, 16:29

10 Apologies!
Apparently I need to pay more attention to the fine print! Take Kane and Jaws off my "bitch list". As far as Up's concerned, Empire, the heart wrenching montage sequence takes place after the 7 minute mark (not the first 5 minutes)! You're telling me that's part of the film's opening sequence? More

Posted by Tres Styles on Wednesday January 8, 2014, 13:22

11 Lists Of Our Lifetime: Empire's Greatest Opening Scenes
i agree with alot of your choices but no Saving Private Ryan - one of the greatest opening scenes - Omaha beach scene is a master piece from Spielberg More

Posted by Giants14 on Wednesday January 8, 2014, 08:37

12 RE: Did you just pick 25 movie titles out of a hat?
I was going to post a comment pointing out all the errors in the Trainspotting write-up (herion?), but having skimmed through this thread I'm amazed how many posters have completely misunderstood the list. It's movies from the last TWENTY FIVE years! That said, there are some glaring omissions: Fight Club, Pulp Fiction, Boogie Nights, There Will be Blood, Heat . . . the list goes on and on . . . More

Posted by edoinjapan on Wednesday January 8, 2014, 03:26

13 Did you just pick 25 movie titles out of a hat?
Magnolia, Citizen Kane, Saving Private Ryan, Jaws and even Machete or Blade! More

Posted by Tres Styles on Tuesday January 7, 2014, 20:06

14 Ho HUM!
would have liked to have seen Lord of War, Gladiator, The Watchmen and Lord of the Rings. But happy Up and Dark Knight are in there More

Posted by Hector26 on Tuesday January 7, 2014, 17:26

15 RE: Birth and Intermission
I would also add Equilibrium to the list. An introduction to the Gun Kata but above all the introduction of Christian Bale as an out and out bad ass mofo. No Equilibrium no Batman Begins, simple as... More

Posted by DanTDavies on Monday January 6, 2014, 16:46

16 Birth and Intermission
Birth for the tracking shot following the jogger in Central Park, with the haunting score by Alexandre Desplat. Intermission for Colin Farrell's character chatting up the cashier, before punching her in the face, a shocking start to the movie. More

Posted by sonofagunderson on Monday January 6, 2014, 15:58

17 PS: Are some Empire readers illiterate?
the article says movies within Empire's 25 years, that means movies released within the last 25 years. Doofuses. More

Posted by Jonny24 on Sunday January 5, 2014, 18:30

18 Saving Ryan's Privates
what a gawdawfully shite movie after the shameless exploitation (yes, exploitation) of the beach scene. The only list it belongs on would be top 10 over-rated movies. Flatliners is ace though, I'd forgotten how good that opening was. More

Posted by Jonny24 on Sunday January 5, 2014, 18:27

19 How Could You!?!
Saving Private Ryan More

Posted by RedFive82 on Sunday January 5, 2014, 15:58

20
What about the opening of Drive? More

Posted by genissa on Saturday January 4, 2014, 14:00

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