What the hell happened? A phenomenon we've lovingly named the CGI effect ... effect.
As we've mentioned before, Peter Jackson's attention to detail on the Lord of the Rings trilogy was so insane that every armor was crafted based on the backstory of an orc, most of which were onscreen for a whole six frames before being decapitated -- not only that, costume designers painstakingly handcrafted over six miles (for metric enthusiasts, that's "a shitload of kilometers") of chain mail, just so that they could put them on orc actors who would be wearing armor over the mail, at night, in the rain. After Jackson was dragged kicking and screaming back to the director's chair for The Hobbit, though, he said to hell with that and created all the orcs in nice and easy (for him) CGI. Hence the buttlord in the screencap above.
And The Hobbit trilogy is just one example in an increasingly disturbing trend of filmmakers who use CGI where practical effects would at least suffice, if not be better. Check out this supercut of VFX from The Expendables 2, where CGI was used for breathtaking effects like making a white helicopter black:
The same technique was used on the cast's hair.
Or the scene where Sly sends a CGI motorcycle careening off a ramp into a CGI helicopter. We're talking about the same guy who became a film legend by actually jumping off cliffs and getting knocked out on camera. But, OK, maybe the helicopter/bike thing isn't such a good example, because when have you ever seen a scene like that using practical effects?
20th Century Fox