Okay, it’s time for Hollywood to stop abusing computers. CGI is now the go-to guy when a lazy director and cheap producer don’t want to put forth the effort and expense to make something actually look realistic. Special effects in movies have regressed in the last decade or so; in some cases the special effects of today are more laughable than they were in the 1950s.
I can certainly understand going to CGI when you want something that just isn’t logical to try doing with actual humans. But CGI has become a crutch on which to construct set pieces that really aren’t integral to the plot. The first thing to come to mind is the atrocious CGI effects of the dinosaur attack in the recent remake of King Kong. How is that the dinosaurs in that movie don’t even look as realistic as the dinosaurs created for Jurassic Park in 1993?
Snakes on a Plane. Yes, sure, everyone is excited by the prospect of Samuel L. Jackson shouting obscenities at snakes on a plane. But have you seen the trailer? Horrors! And I don’t mean the story, I mean the snakes on a plane. Is anyone really expected to take those snakes seriously? Did they even use real snakes at all? The effects in the trailer of Snakes on a Plane are nothing short of pathetic. Let’s hope that those scenes were shot early and that the CGI effects improved during the shoot.
There’s another trailer making the rounds, for something called The Covenant. It appears to be a standard millennial-era horror flick, nothing special. And, of course, extensive use of CGI is used, making the movie look more like an animated special than a realistic movies. Everywhere you turn now there’s a CGI effect somewhere. And many times it’s thoroughly uncalled for.
I ask you, which aliens look more realistic: Those Muppet-type writers of bad poetry in The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy or any-ANY-CGI created alien in any movie? I’m not saying that CGI can’t look good or add to the movie. Hell, anyone who has read my stuff knows how much I positively detest the Lord of the Rings movies, but I’ll give it this: Gollum was the most realistic and interesting character in those movies. He may have been computer generated, but his performance carried far more depth than the real actors playing Frodo or Strider.
Same deal with Dobby in the Harry Potter movies. Dobby springs forth from CGI, but so far he’s acted rings around poor Daniel Radcliffe. I know that’s not saying a whole lot, but Dobby is almost as good as Rupert Grint, too. So, yes, there are cases when CGI can be effective. But there is a rumor swirling about now concerning the next Fantastic Four movie that, if true, proves Hollywood is well on their way to going all CGI and dispensing with human actors altogether.
The director of the forthcoming Fantastic Four sequel, Tim Story, revealed in an interview that the Silver Surfer will be CGI. Now I’m not a big comic book fan by any means…but we’re talking about the freaking SILVER SURFER here! Only the coolest comic book hero of all time. And yes, sure, I know there’s not really any star around today who is even capable of coming close to doing justice to the Silver Surfer, but I mean, come on. You don’t need a star to play the Silver Surfer. Find a talented unknown.
We’re talking the Silver Surfer here, people! In the first place, it’s the ultimate in stupidity to even make a movie about him. Let’s face it, the Silver Surfer really isn’t movie material. He’s a philosopher-warrior; not some web-slinging or flying crime fighter. Hollywood hasn’t yet gotten those kind of comic book heroes right; you really think they could possibly do justice to the Silver Surfer? Puh-leeze!
And to prove that they won’t get it right, they want to turn him into some kind of Terminator 2 type CGI liquid-metal morph-man. Okay, sure, the appearance of the Silver Surfer lends himself to that kind of CGI digitizing, but to do so would take away what makes the character so great. He is not human, true, but ironically he may be the most human of all comic book heroes. The Silver Surfer is an iconic figure who has been referenced in everything from the Richard Gere movie Breathless to the cartoon Futurama. Clearly, the Silver Surfer is cool in a way that Superman or even Batman can never hope to be.
To turn him into another phony looking CGI animated figure would be the ultimate indignity. CGI is overused, but it has a value, no doubt. My best friend in high school, Mark Kochinski, works in the CGI industry and has done great work on shows like X-Files and Xena as well as a host of movies. He’s good at what he does. In fact, his work is so superior to quite a bit of the CGI that I have seen in big budget special effects movies that I can only assume that many special effects supervisors get hired less on their ability and more on who they know.
The potential for high quality CGI effects is there, as is the ability. It’s just too bad that CGI is now used in place of more difficult effects that actually look realistic. Hollywood producers and directors are like most of us average guys who use video effects software. Many of us tend to use all the cool effects when we make our home video masterpieces even when it would probably be a better movie if we didn’t. I’m guilty of it. The difference between me and those Hollywood guys is that I’m aware that I overuse the effects. I hope they will become aware of it soon.
If not, they face a very serious problem. It used to take several decades for special effects in Hollywood to become corny. The movies being made today that rely on CGI won’t have that luxury. With the way technology is developing faster than users now how to utilize it-again, just look at the woefully bad effects in the dinosaur chase scene in King Kong-it may only take another decade before all those movies that rely on CGI effects today makes viewers laugh out loud the same way that today’s audiences laugh at the special effects of Ed Wood movies.