Along with people, there are still certain elements that CG can't quite get right. For example, water and explosions demand an amount of randomness that programs have yet to streamline (on account of it being, you know, random). This is why a lot of films still do their explosions in-camera.
And to make things worse ... even if you do make your explosion effective, your average moviegoer has seen more metropolitan rubble than hot meals. Wiping out a urban block became dry and expensive, like dating a mummy with fancy tastes. And thus came a new era of effects designed to combat the same-ol city destruction ... ironically used by every goddamn film at once. I'm talking about this:
20th Century Fox
20th Century Fox
"ACTIVATE SPACE VACUUM!"
Yes folks ... when the aliens or mutants or robots come, no longer will they simply fire up their laser and hadouken mankind into an orbital crisp. Instead, buildings and cars and people will be raptured for just the time it takes to piledrive them back into the dirt like a toddler playing hamster-bounce. So why is this happening? Well, besides the aforementioned boredom factor, particle effects are way easier to deal with when you're not trying to be random. No one can animate every little spec of rubble and flame by hand, so it's way easier to program everything to flow in a single direction and work that into the plot.
Am I saying that digital effects dictated the plot of these films? Probably not. But as Slate recently pointed out -- along with looking original, sucking things into the sky is a considerably less violent form of destruction for films aimed at pleasing families.
Not that they exactly minded watching countless CGI 9/11's in the past ...
It comes down to this: if something both entertains the audience and makes it infinitely easier to meet the ever-growing standards of CG, then studios with glom on it like cats to a canal corpse. But the unfortunate result is that we're taking artistic decisions and handing them over to an algorithm.
Remember when matte painters had to create entire sci-fi cities like this?
Now this can be done on a graphing calculator.
These days the same beauty will be made by a digital artist on a computer, which is just as great! Only as that gets too time-consuming, the job of designing a freaking landscape is bafflingly being taken over by a program that will randomly generate cities instead.
Like New Yorcagoston Francisco here.
Superman's Metropolis is one of the most famous fictional cities out there, and yet the new films handed its design to a program called CityEngine. The result couldn't be more generic and soulless...probably because the thing designing it didn't have a goddamn soul. So I guess I'm not saying we shouldn't put robots in charge of city-destroying simulations...just that we should teach them how to love and hate and fear first. I see no way this plan can go wrong.
Movies And TV Got 'Grittier' (Because Of Better Sound And Camera Equipment)
The other day my mother mentioned to me that people were getting "harder to understand" on television -- specifically that they were "always mumbling" and speaking extra-quiet. Obviously, I began calling retirement homes to price-compare the various "bag and toss" packages they had to offer -- only to discover that a good deal of these so-called "services" didn't take people against their will. Determined to find something that would hold up in court, I began Googling her statement...only to find that a lot of folk actually shared this same affliction. And not just the lunatics like my mom...but like, Roger Moore -- who complained that modern actors seem to fart dialogue through numb lips.
To be fair, has no one ever heard Marlon Brando talk?