The overabundance of CGI in contemporary cinema has made many moviegoers nostalgic for the days of stop motion and prosthetics, but Hollywood is content to continue churning out blockbuster hits with the use of CGI, and movie fans will buy tickets to see them. As Jack The Giant Slayer hits the multiplex March 1st, we look at how CG effects have been used in ways both good and bad at the movies.
Worst: Halloween: H20
Michael Meyers’ mask was enhanced via the use of CGI in Halloween: H20. There were reportedly four different masks used throughout the film’s production. Horror fans are especially sensitive about CGI, so taking a beloved horror icon and digitally enhancing his mask proved not only controversial, but it struck a major nerve with a lot of horror enthusiasts.
Best: Terminator 1&2
The Terminator franchise has brought viewers some of the best computer generated imagery audiences have seen. The T1000 and his ability to turn in to liquid metal is absolutely amazing. It even looks cool, years after the film’s release. Subsequent Terminator films have continued to employ the use of CGI and have done a fantastic job of making it appear lifelike.
Most moviegoers haaated this movie. The pacing was slow, the storyline was boring, but worst of all was the cartoonish CGI that was supposed to represent The Hulk. This film made us long for the days of Lou Ferrigno in green body paint. No doubt the lukewarm reaction to Hulk is what led to the 2008 reboot The Incredible Hulk being made. Never fear, Ang Lee would be back a few years later with...
Best: Life of Pi
There's a reason this film won accolades in 2013 (including Best Picture) in everything besides the acting categories—there wasn't much acting, only CGI animals and scenery. But these animals and scenery are some of the most beautiful use of computer graphics we've ever seen, and kudos to Oscar winner Ang Lee for pulling it off.
Worst: Deep Blue Sea
Though there were critics who championed Deep Blue Sea as a gory good time, there were so many things to dislike about this movie: It’s a shameless Jaws rip-off, and the CG shark effects were awful. While Jaws has stood the test of time, Deep Blue Sea has not. Just look at this CG shark supposedly tearing Sam L. Jackson to pieces! When such a pivotal piece of the film isn’t believable to audiences, it causes the entire film to fall flat.
What can you say about this box office and critical juggernaut that hasn't been said already? James Cameron's groundbreaking use of 3D and CG caused jaws to drop in 2009, and having set the bar, continues to affect how movies are made today.
Worst: Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull
For a lot of fans, The Last Crusade should have been the last crusade for Dr. Jones. With the kind of budget afforded to a Steven Spielberg film, we would expect better than what we got. The CGI monkeys angered fans for obvious reasons. And then there was that spaceship….
Best: Jurassic Park
Who can forget the first moment you laid eyes on the giant Brontosaurus among the trees, or the heart-stopping sequence when the T-rex stomped thunderously behind the speeding Jeep, jaws with giant teeth gnashing right on its tail? The movie came out decades ago, but remains a benchmark of CG technology and doesn’t seem dated even now. You can re-live the adventure when Jurassic Park 3D hits theaters April 5.
Worst: The Thing (2011)
The most disappointing thing about this 2011 prequel to John Carpenter’s The Thing was that a lot of the effects that were done practically were replaced or "enhanced" with CGI, during post-production. The effects in Carpenter’s 1982 film are less polished, but they look so much better than the effects in the 2011 prequel. There isn’t one example we can point out as the worst; CGI was used liberally, throughout the entire film and it’s all bad.
Best: The Lord of the Rings
This is another franchise with impressive use of CGI. Gollum is so well done that it’s easy for audiences to forget that he is CGI. Much of the credit for the quality of the CGI used in the films belongs to Andy Serkis, who was the model on which Gollum's movements were based. Serkis donned a motion suit to give a reference point to the animators who brought Gollum to life.
Worst: TRON: Legacy
Jeff Bridges’ face was digitally restored to 1982 in TRON: Legacy. Some type of prosthesis or make-up FX to achieve the age regression shots would have been more believable and not to mention less creepy. Jeff Bridges’ face wasn’t the only regrettable use of CGI in TRON: Legacy, but it was certainly the worst. In fact, there are entire forums devoted to complaints against Jeff Bridges’ fake face.
Best: The Matrix
Remember when "bullet time" was the hot new thing? By 2002 it had been spoofed in 20 different movies, but in 1999 the effect was nothing short of brilliant, the kind of thing where you'd leave the theater saying, "Whoa…I've never seen that before!".
Worst: Die Another Day
This was among the first Bond films to use CGI and it must be commended for doing so in such an epically bad way. During this ice surfing scene, the icecaps look like they were drawn in with a colored pencil. It appears that Pierce Brosnan just stood in front of a green screen and swiveled back and forth to create the scene.