5 Movies (That Get Deranged-Looking) With The Special Effects Removed
As society's tolerance for watching movie characters who aren't superpowered, cuddly animals, or giant alien robots that turn into Volkswagens dwindles, there's no shortage of balls-to-the-wall, visual-effect-filled spectacles in theaters. But as cool as they look onscreen, as we've mentioned once or twice, sometimes these big-budget extravaganzas look like bad avant-garde theater behind the scenes. Look at ...
Avengers: Infinity War -- Thanos Looked Like A Half-Assed Halloween Costume
Marvel's movies have always featured mind-blowing visual effects, from the computer-generated Hulk to Iron Man's suit to whatever digital wizardry makes it look like the team is happy to have Hawkeye hanging around. The epic crossover Infinity War was no exception. Most impressive was the central villain, Thanos, who's completely realistic even though he looks like a California Raisin who got super into CrossFit.
Behind the scenes, Thanos was portrayed by famed actor (and Barbara Streisand stepson) Josh Brolin. For a CGI character, Thanos is so Brolin-y that you almost expect him to abandon the hunt for the Infinity Stones, throw on a bandana, and go searching for pirate treasure. That's because Brolin acted out his role on set in a motion capture suit with a camera capturing his wide assortment of scowls the whole time. Pretty high-tech stuff.
To help the actors acting opposite Brolin -- specifically with their eye lines -- Brolin's mocap suit was outfitted with a decidedly less high-tech broomstick taped to his back with a cardboard cutout of Thanos' head on top. The effect is less "unstoppable galactic evil" and more "Halloween costume thrown together by a parent who clearly doesn't love their child." It's awkward, whether he's battling Iron Man on Titan ...
... or besting Thor and Loki, and mercy-killing Heimdall so Idris Elba can go do other stuff:
And the climactic moment in which Thanos snatches the final Infinity Stone and places it in the Gauntlet?
In reality, he looked like a constipated hockey player.
The Last Jedi -- Snoke Was A Senior Citizen In A Bathrobe
The new batch of Star Wars movies has utilized a surprising number of practical effects. Which looks great on screen, but then again, a computer rendering of a door probably wouldn't have almost crushed Han Solo to death. Despite this old-school mentality, new villain Supreme Leader Snoke is a fully CGI creation, like Jar Jar Binks or Harrison Ford's unpierced ear. The effect basically looks as if a Pixar character turned to the Dark Side.
Snoke was played by motion capture guru Andy Serkis, the guy who was also King Kong, Gollum, and for all we know Peter Jackson himself. (Have you ever seen them together in person?) As videos of him wailing on the saxophone clearly illustrate, Serkis has normal human-sized hands. So for certain shots, he sometimes wielded a giant gnarly puppet hand, giving actress Daisy Ridley the true sensation of being pawed by an unhygienic wizard.
The production also employed a "reference maquette" for these scenes, essentially a bust of Snoke on a pole (not to be confused with the British delicacy "Snoke on the Pole"). Bizarrely, they also roped a bald senior citizen into just standing around, presumably to remind the other actors what old people are like. They even made this poor codger try on that ridiculous gold lame robe.
Criticize computer technology all you want, but at least the head of the First Order didn't look like an elderly swinger throwing the world's saddest birthday party.
Peter Rabbit Was Creepy As Hell
The latest attempt to reboot an icon of children's literature as a CGI character who annoys live-action British people, Peter Rabbit finds Beatrix Potter's lovable bunny dancing, eating carrots, and straight up trying to kill someone. Still, look at those little critters:
Since stuffing an actual rabbit inside of a tiny blue suede coat would surely invite the wrath of animal rights' groups, filmmakers instead employed digital technology to bring Peter and his pals to life. Meanwhile, all the thespians on set were interacting with rabbit-shaped dolls, which looked less like Beatrix Potter's timeless characters and more like dead-eyed nightmare creatures.
If you needed further proof that these physical stand-ins for Potter's characters were birthed straight from the bowels of hell, one of their helpful features were detachable heads.
At one point they simply got a guy in a blue leotard to throw that friggin' doll around:
Presumably, this was to simulate Peter Rabbit's adorably mischievous hijinks. Either that or we're getting a glimpse of the production's debauchedWolf Of Wall Street-esque wrap party.
Skyscraper Was Less Impressive Behind The Scenes
After churning out Die Hard on a bus, Die Hard on an ocean liner, and two fucking Die Hard in the White House movies, in true lazy fashion, Hollywood circled its wagons and did Die Hard in a tall building again -- but this time it's a really tall building. Like, so tall that the movie gives us a metaphorical dick-measuring contest between the titular skyscraper and other inferior, less manly ones.
If this were a Mission: Impossible movie, Tom Cruise would probably have actually gone out and ridden a motorcycle down the side of the building while blindfolded and on fire. But since everyone loves Dwayne Johnson, he doesn't need to perform outrageous stunts in order to, say, erase past rumors of creepy behavior from the public's consciousness. So despite the fact that it was marketed as the movie wherein The Rock dangles from an insane height ...
... behind the scenes he was merely on a soundstage, hanging from a C-stand only slightly taller than the dude holding it.
As seen on some of the posters, in one thrilling scene, Johnson's character, Will Sawyer, performs an epic leap from a construction crane to the building.
In real life it was ... decidedly less epic.
The Justice League Is Just Silly
What comics fan wouldn't be thrilled by the movie that finally brings Wonder Woman, Batman, and the Flash together to fight the forces of evil and ... sneak into a cemetery to dig up their dead friend's grave and haul away his corpse?
Even though the movie was mostly grim and serious (with the exception of any laughter Superman's wonky mouth elicited) behind the scenes, the famed superhero team was pure silliness. While rehearsing their battle with Superman, for example, Aquaman was wearing a bathing suit -- possibly a reference to one of Jason Momoa's earlier roles.
As they took on the Man of Steel (who was annoyed at being Pet Semetary-d back to life) Aquaman's fighting skills weren't exactly as impressive as in the actual movie.
Even less nobly, after dropping his Trident, Aquaman steals Wonder Woman's sword:
And the Flash teaming up with Cyborg and Batman looks like a cosplay-themed gym owned by David Lynch.
Which really illustrates how impressive the movie's CGI elements were -- with the exception of whoever used MS Paint to cover up Superman's mustache.
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For some impressive practical effects, check out 7 Amazing Movie Special Effects You Won't Believe Aren't CGI and 7 Movie Special Effects You Won't Believe Aren't Computers.
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