4 Horrible CGI Effects That Movies Need to Stop Using
As we've mentioned in the past, good CGI in films requires the filmmakers to spend monster cash -- which is why the Jurassic World and Terminator Genisys trailers both look like Turkish porn parodies despite being made decades after their groundbreaking originals. If the studios were able to make CGI look convincing years before freaking The Mummy Returns came out, then goddammit they should be able to do so now too.
"By Jove, such farce warrants $433 million of our hard-earned lucre!" -the human race, 2001
And, to be fair, some movies have great CGI! However, even when the CGI is good (see the new Star Wars, Mad Max, or any graffiti-ridden Neill Blomkamp film), it still has to be used right. With that in mind, we've collected some of the more egregious computer-generated trends of 2014, such as ...
Using Fake (as in Completely Digital) Blood
Fake blood has been the violent glue that holds storytelling together since the days of Shakespeare, and as movie makeup in general got better, so did the nose ketchup -- say what you will about Fight Club's manboob prosthetics, but that was some top-notch fake blood. And yet, at some point in the past decade, something very strange started to happen. Here's The Expendables 2:
Just watch this for 20 more minutes and you've pretty much seen the entire first act.
Really, Stallone? You of all people would replace practical fake blood with CGI-rendered goop, when you owe your career to tangible fake blood? We're not sure why films like this started digitally phoning in their gore, but our best guess is that it has something to do with turning a PG-13 theatrical release into an "unrated edition" Blu-ray with the press of a few buttons.
And then again, why not? For the studios, CG blood is cleaner on set and easy to control in post-production -- the only measly drawbacks are that characters are now apparently filled with red Flubber, and the movie looks like crusty dog shit.
The fluid physics were based on a careful study of the porn parody 369.
Yeah, we're honestly not sure why the 300 sequel needed an R rating when all the violence looks like a stop-motion Go-Gurt ad. Well, at least that other hallmark of action movies -- the bare-knuckle car chase -- remains unsullied by bleep-bloop laptop fuckwittery.
Replacing Real Car and Plane Stunts With CGI
Hey, remember when the Blues Brothers drove their car through a mall? Or when Indiana Jones got road-hauled by his own whip in Raiders of the Lost Ark? We didn't fall in love with those scenes because of their poetic significance to the story -- we love them because they feature real cars crashing into shit like drunk Transformers. (Are you done taking notes, Michael Bay?)
In fact, seeing real stunts is kind of the point of action and adventure films. The Matrix Reloaded may suck ass in every other conceivable sense, but you still feel it is worth your money because they smashed up real cars. The Expendables 3, on the other hand, apparently couldn't be bothered to leave the four-block radius around Arnold Schwarzenegger's Malibu compound:
Pictured: The sunset filmed from the window of a limousine.
Isn't this supposed to be the Fantasia of action films? And they didn't bother to go to an actual city to film it? At least the movie Lucy gives us a real car in a real city ... albeit surrounded by a bunch of fake shit.
Also, Scarlett Johansson is actually a 79-year-old Armenian man.
It's not hard to see why the Need for Speed movie was flooded with praise for shooting actual car chases, when the next Fast and Furious film looks like someone hooked a computer up to an 8-year-old's brain.
Or the gritty Pitfall reboot.
It doesn't matter how nice it looks; if your action film has a cartoon man jumping off a computer-generated bus, it has failed as an action film. At least the literal and figurative CGI car wreck from In Time is hilarious enough to be entertaining.
People that ran out of time: Olivia Wilde, the CG department.
Completely Ignoring Horrific CGI Murder
People have been upset about the new TMNT film for a lot of reasons, but, weirdly enough, none of them seem to be that they've apparently been rebranded as Teenage Mutant Psycho Murderers.
"CowabungaaaAAAAHHHH THE BLOOD!!! THE BLOOOOD!!!"
Yeah. That's not one of those robot soldiers or putty patrollers or whatever-the-fuck from the cartoon; a human man gets thrown into a high-speed train by what's supposed to be one of the film's heroes. And now, presumably, he's mangled on the train floor with shards of glass in his lifeless face, next to some small child who will now probably grow up to join ISIS. For some reason, Hollywood's totally fine with that being in a kid movie, just how they're fine with incinerating the comic relief in Transformers 4 before completely forgetting about his death a few scenes later.
"Stop covering your eyes, boy. I paid IMAX 3D prices; you're watching it. All. Of. It."
Don't get us wrong: trivial violence is a lot of fun when the action guy is mowing down rows of evil terrorists or Nazis -- but there's a big difference between Indiana Jones letting a bad guy get shredded by a war plane and Captain America's sidekick, Bucky, casually sidekicking a good guy into a turbine:
"Witness the secret origin of The Splendid Turbine-Man! Marvel Phase 7!"
Spoilers: Bucky is evil when this happens, but he's supposed to eventually turn good again, and the film spends exactly zero time letting us reflect on how fucked-up it is that he uses an innocent man as an anti-aircraft projectile. But, then again, that's just how it is now: Man of Steel carelessly murders hundreds of thousands because Superman punching a guy through a building looks cool. CGI can make casual deaths so cartoonishly removed from real life that we're spending only enough time for it to be trivial -- not long enough to realize the irony of doing so. That is, when CGI is even showing death in the first place ...
Movie People Are Turning Into Rubber
In fairness, the CGI in the newest Captain America doesn't just bloodlessly murder a man; it bloodlessly saves one as well:
Reminder: This man's innards are now pudding.
That's the 100 percent non-superhuman Falcon rolling through a concussion of demise (after effortlessly weaving through a barrage of sky explosions mere feet from his internal organs) only to immediately get back up like it's a picnic. At no point do we fear for his safety -- because why would we? He's clearly not a real human being, the same way Spider-Man's costume isn't a real, tearable fabric:
Or how the script isn't a real, fleshed-out plot.
For fans who want bright, dumb superhero action injected into their eyeballs, that's totally fine ... but combine modern-day CGI with studio apathy, and suddenly every film becomes a rag-doll PG-13 circus where the human body does whatever the screenwriter needs it to do (except emote).
"QUICK! FALL SAFELY INTO MY HARD METAL HANDS!"
This is why CG is great for making fantastical beings look real, but it sucks at making real beings look fantastical. We can buy Gandalf fighting a Balrog in Lord of the Rings and falling off a cliff, because we see him royally fucked-up afterward. But the moment this shit starts to happen in The Hobbit ...
"Oh, dear. Got a splinter in my finger."
... they might as well just make a cartoon.
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While we're on the topic, check out The 7 Most Common CGI Screw-Ups (Explained) and 7 Amazing Movie Special Effects You Won't Believe Aren't CGI.