Godzilla, Cats, and Other Movies That Are Embarrassingly Silly Without CGI
Ever since movie magicians figured out how to make it look like a giant, conspicuously genital-less ape was scaling the Empire State Building, visual effects have been an integral part of the cinematic experience. These days, blockbusters rely more and more on computer generated imagery to instill audiences with a sense of wonder, or grandeur, or the feeling that a blue hedgehog is hanging out with the guy from Westworld. As we like to point out from time to time, these amazing illusions look great on the screen, but look like embarrassing dumpster fires behind the scenes, such as...
How is it Even Possible Cats Looked Creepier in Person?
We've all come to accept that the big-budget screen adaptation of Andrew Lloyd Webber's Cats was pretty much the cinematic equivalent of pouring expired ranch dressing into your eyeballs at a haunted PetSmart -- but while the film's visual effects are, at best, janky and, at worst, a crime against humanity, somehow this goddamn thing looked even creepier behind the scenes.
We have yet to receive much official footage documenting the making of Cats, thankfully, though, co-star Rebel Wilson took to Instagram to share some photos of what that much-ballyhooed "digital fur technology" really looked like in person. Turns out it's not so cat-like, with more of a "middle-aged French clown troupe rethinking literally all of their life decisions" vibe.
Sir Andrew Lloyd Webber looks so unimpressed it's a wonder he resisted the urge to take up residence underneath the soundstage and start dropping lighting fixtures on random cast members.
Even the productions most respected acting legends weren't spared the indignities of their respective mo-cap suits.
Anyway, this all means we're one step closer to Dame Judi Dench taking over the role of Groot.
Aladdin -- If You Thought Will Smith's Genie Was Off-Putting Before ...
When Disney's live-action remake of Aladdin was first announced, folks had a lot of questions ranging from "Why?" to "Huh?" to "maaaybe stop putting all your extras in brownface?" Many fans were concerned with the look of Will Smith's Genie, who resembled some kind of one-man Blue Man Group XXX parody. Venturing into Agrabah's uncanny valley was no easy feat, as evidenced in the decidedly un-magical behind the scenes footage, in which Aladdin had to dance with gyrating dudes in blue gimp suits.
These anonymous figures had to make it look like the Genie was magically conjuring food by literally shoving it in Aladdin's face like a squad of Olive Garden servers who quit that afternoon.
Will Smith was forced to dance around an empty stage conjuring invisible objects, presumably while that "Wild Wild West" song played on a loop inside his brain.
As for that iconic magic carpet ride, on-set Aladdin and Jasmine were perched atop what looks like a hydraulic elephant built by H.R. Giger.
Call of the Wild -- Harrison Ford's Canine Friend was an Adult Man
Proving that audiences only want to see Harrison Ford palling around with a furry sidekick if the words "Star" and/or "Wars" appear in the title, the recent Call of the Wild was a disappointment at the box office. Either because of animal cruelty laws, or to ensure Harrison Ford couldn't sell his co-star for weed money, filmmakers opted not to use a real dog, and instead decided to cobble one together using a bunch of ones and zeroes. In order to provide something for Ford to react to (other than tiresome Han Solo questions) in real-life Buck was played by an actual adult man, Terry Notary.
Obviously pretending to be an animal while wearing a motion-capture suit is nothing new in Hollywood, but you have to imagine this guy felt a little awkward in scenes such as the one where he had to fetch mail for the star of The Fugitive.
It may look weird to us, but for all we know all multimillionaire movie stars secretly pay human beings to act like friendly pets at home, so this may not have been that weird for Harrison Ford.
Dolittle -- Those Adorable Animals Were Crappy Go-Karts
The big-budget Dolittle found Robert Downey Jr. playing the legendary Dr. Dolittle, talking with animals, and... um, going on an adventure with... okay, we didn't actually see it. Hardly anyone did. But one thing we do know is that he spends part of the movie riding around on an Ostrich-- because it was in a trailer that we didn't have to spend twelve actual American dollars on.
In reality, the doc's interspecies Uber was somewhat less enchanting-- as in it was a go-kart-like contraption being driven by a dude seriously re-considering his film school tuition.
And Dolittle's giraffe pal was represented by a head on a pole being driven by some dune buggy thing.
The Gators in Crawl Were Groping Dudes and Poking Puppets
Not to be confused with the low-budget '80s Star Wars knock-off Krull, 2019's Crawl features a killer alligator stalking humans in a house that's flooding during a category 5 hurricane -- and somehow it didn't win all the Oscars. Instead of using a real alligator, which would be expensive and bitey, they went the CGI route. For some shots they merely poked the actors with a foam head on a stick like a bunch of dickhole Jim Hensons.
Other times, the alligator was played by unimpressed randos in bright green suits.
Godzilla: King of the Monsters -- King Ghidorah was Really Three Dudes
The recent sequel to 2014's (sadly Puff Daddy-less) American Godzilla reboo found the titular monster claiming his role as the "King of the Monsters" (with a little help from the most affordable cast members of successful TV shows). Godzilla teams up with Mothra to battle "Monster Zero", which sounds like a new energy drink but is actually King Ghidorah, an alien creature who's just one head shy of forming the world's screechiest barbershop quartet.
Ghidorah wasn't a purely digital creation, his three heads were animated thanks to the motion capture performances of three dudes (Alan Maxson [right head], Jason Liles [center head], and Richard Dorton [left head]) awkwardly wiggling and pretending to breathe fire in a performance indistinguishable from your ex-roommate's modern dance show.
They even got down on all fours and writhed around on the floor as if it was a common Taco Bell restroom.
But at least these actors contributed the nuance and soulfulness necessary for the film's representation of a skyscraper-sized space-dragon.
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