Look: We see a security guard and a man in a coat in some building with velvet ropes and paintings of ex-Presidents. We’re probably in the White House and something sketchy is about to happen. The guard is alerted and we get a look at the guy, and then the pointed tail swivels into the picture and unless you don’t know, you know its Nightcrawler. Then for the next 2 minutes or so, Nightcrawler jumps around and F’s stuff up in one part of the building, while apparently elsewhere a hole bunch of guys huddle up around the President and shuffle him this way or that and point guns at doors and windows. We cut back and forth between Nightcrawler performing violent gymnastics and the secret service playing dog pile on the president, when nightcrawler appears in one of the rooms full of guys with guns. Then the team in the oval office sits quietly and the audience is treated to a long shot of just a door, and then everybody in the oval office hears something above them, then something on the other side of the door. Then the door swings open and an evil black cloud is in it, and the cloud starts fighting guys, and then Nightcrawler comes out of the cloud, and then its just him and POTUS, and he pins him down on his desk, and kind of squats on top of him and makes faces at him like he’s gonna eat him or make out with him, and then he makes a few more overtly sexual faces while he pulls a dagger and then gets shot in the arm, and then we see the guy who shot him and the President all splayed out on his own desk, and then we get a good look at Nightcrawler’s dagger, which has a red ribbon on it that says “Mutant Freedom Now.” You know, to make a statement.
Listen: The first thing we hear is suspenseful music. Then a guard asking a man if he is lost. Then its chaos. Dramatic opera in the background, the audio track from here on out is composed of the sounds of punches and gunfire, as well as a lot of swooshy, whippy sound effects, and the occasional hiss or snarl. The only dialogue is the security team just freaking out. They have no idea what’s going on and they’re very vocal about it. Immediately we know there is an intruder someplace he shouldn’t be, and about ten seconds in we can reason with certainty that its the White House. It’s made explicit shortly thereafter when somebody says “oval office.” Near the end, the fighting sounds muffled and far away, then in a few seconds we’re back in the action again. In the last seconds its just hissing and the suspenseful music reaches head, then a single shot is fired, then a few more. Then we fade out on mystical sparkly music- a revelation.
Analyze: Just listening to the audio, I realized how kind of, flat it is. Like in order for it to be anything other than jumbled garbage, it needs the video. Both components kind of tell the story of the scene, but in order to get the full thing you need both. Like in the audio, all you hear is hissing from Nightcrawler. There’s nothing in there about his character at all. In fact all you get about him is that the guards use male pronouns to describe him. So we know there is an attack on the president in the white house, but we don’t know who or why from the audio. Only in the video do we know its Nightcrawler and see that he was going to ceremonially murder the president with a dagger to further the cause of mutant freedom. Without the video, we don’t even know he’s a mutant, and there’s no explanation for all of the whooshing sounds that the uninitiated listener wouldn’t know come from him teleporting. It’s no “BAMF” that’s for sure, but it’s something. So the video offers much better context than the audio. We can say this scene at least is more visual than aural. Without the audio though, the visual is choppy and bad, so there’s that.
One thing I noticed: in the beginning of the scene, the camera has a fairly easy time keeping the 180 rule, but as the scene goes on, it really has to jump through hoops to keep on the right side of things (it’s a PUN! Get it? Or other wordplay, I don’t know. It doesn’t matter). At one point it just takes a birds’ eye view as Nightcrawler just bamfs back and forth all through this hallway messin’ dudes’ days up and avoids the issue entirely. But for the most part, the camera (“camera”) is on a swivel out there, really making an effort to keep everything in the right perspective for audience digestion. Here’s the clip.
ALL the stars.