Wednesday, May 13, 2009

The "Effect" That Makes a Big-Budget Movie Become Terrible

You ever go to see a movie and think, "This is going to be great!" and then after it begins you start to realize they have decided to not only use an effect that ruins every movie, but also use it every time there is a special effect? Me too. It makes me so mad, and there are some directors that utilize this in every movie so much so that I don't even want to go to their movies now.

You may be asking yourself, what is this effect and why don't I know about it already? Well...I'm going to tell you. I'm going to explain it to you, in detail, in just a second. And I am not kidding, this effect turns me off faster than the possibility of accidentally watching The Hills. The effect is this: The computer animated person. Not motion capture, though that can be creepy and weird too (lifeless eyes, anyone?), but a computer animated person that looks almost corny and so, so fake. I've noticed in my research over movies containing this suck that almost all of them came out in 2003. It's like someone got a new toy and everyone thought, "Let's play with it and see how it can ruin our movie". Let me explain/point out examples.

I'm not a huge fan of Spiderman and I can't lie and say I like Tobey Maguire, I can't stand him. That stupid look he puts on his face; in fact I never watched more than five minutes of the last Spider-Man because of that dumb look on his face while riding that bike. But enough about Tobey...let's cover the bad CG. Here is a hint at what I hate in this movie:

This isn't a real trailer, but it does encompass a large amount of the suck this movie contains with the animated, flying Spider-Man. I've heard people say, "But, he's supposed to look like he would in the comic book!" Uh! No...why would you want the character set in the real world to look cheesy, half-completed and layered over the background when flying around through the city? Even if that was the real reason, it's almost like they were running low on budget and instead of getting someone who could make a fake person look real, they went with, "Just draw him and make it kind of look real...but not all the way. People are too dumb to notice". We aren't too dumb to notice. I noticed and it's one reason I won't finish this movie and can't bear to watch the other, Tobey Maguire.

Matrix: Reloaded

I'm pretty sure this little effect was used in some manner in all of the Matrix movies, but for some reason I just find this scene particularly annoying. During that unforgettable scene where Neo and Agent Smith fight the movie uses excellent motion capture and wire work to show he's in a program...and then at 4:15 it all starts to fall apart. Did you see that little Agent Smith fly off to the left. See how terrible that was? Interspersing it within better shots and stunt-work does not make it flow smoothly. It's very obvious. And it starts to reach it's climax of suck right around 6:08. Neo jumps up and twirls around and starts smacking the animated shit out of the little Smiths. This is why it doesn't work: Because it's too fluid, something is slightly off about the movements and the sounds of the bar smacking the Smiths isn't right. I know he was using his hands and feet before, but they had some heft. This sounds is like a thud and a *tink*. The image of the little Smiths flying around in animated fashion ruins the entire scene and makes me lose interest in the rest of the movie(s).

There are plenty of other instances of this in the rest of the movie...

The Day After Tomorrow
Probably, hands-down, the worst of the movies that use this effect, The Day After Tomorrow is typical Roland Emmerich crap (I know I said this effect was used on people, but this is a special case of suck). I can't say it's even fluff, because it is boring, tedious and you get so annoyed at this one particular scene (among many):
I can't find a clip of it's awfulness, so let me describe how horrible it is. At one point some kind of ship sails into Manhattan and for some unknown reason Jake Gyllenhaal goes on board (I know there was a reason, but by this point I was "Oh come on"-ing too much to care). When he's on board some terribly animated wolves (one wolf, two? I don't remember) go after him, and ONLY him on the ship. They don't try to get into the library where the rest of the people are and they didn't leave when the rest of the animals did...I don't know why. If it's so cold, they would not stick around when everything else is fleeing south.
The wolves are so badly created that it does in this movie, completely turn me off, causing me to say this is one of the worst movies I've ever seen.

Terminator 3: Rise of the Machines
It pains me to claim that I don't like this movie. I am a huge Terminator fan and was really happy that there was a new movie. Unfortunately they decided to copy the first two movies and end this movie completely against what we have been told from the get go: that there is not future but the one you make. In this movie we threw that out the window and were told: oop! no matter what you do, it doesn't matter, Judgement Day will happen anyway.
So here it is:

The terror all starts at 0:57 when Arnie starts throwing T-X into the bathroom walls. Now...why would you use this effect here? You just used real people to be smashed through walls, into floors, etc. Why would you intersperse this scene in this manner? Why? The movie wasn't that great all around, but this sullied it completely. USE REAL PEOPLE!!!! Or, better CGI.

Both Hulk movies use this annoying trick of the computer. But the Eric Bana version takes the cake in awful. I like Eric Bana and Ang Lee and I am glad that this shit-storm of crap didn't destroy their careers...although it almost did.

This is a nice blend of crap CGI from both Hulk movies. I get it's hard to make a real person smash crap like the Hulk does, but I've seen this done better, and this isn't better. It's terrible.

I understand that there is a lot to making a movie and sometimes the CGI/SFX budget might not be the top priority, though it should be in movies like Hulk, where the SFX contains a great deal of the movie. It makes no sense to take parts of a scene and make them look so fake, especially as in T3 and Matrix where there is a good amount of realistic looking shots using real people. So all I ask is that you please, movie studios, STOP using this effect. It ruins the movie, it takes the audience member completely out of the movie, out of the suspension of disbelief because it looks SO fake. And after all, that is why people go to the movies, to escape and live in an alternate world.

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