While CGI can be a powerful tool in VFX, the effects don’t always age well. Here are some of the most regrettable VFX in film history.
The history of visual effects (VFX) is as long and deep as the history of film itself. Since the early days, a combination of different practical effects, like miniature replicas, life-sized costumes and interactive sets, were used with analog effects overlaid or hand-drawn onto individual film cells.
While these special effects may sometimes appear crude or silly many years later, at the time they could be quite astonishing and impressive to audiences who were less sophisticated and more willing to suspend disbelief.
Since the innovations of computers and digital filmmaking, VFX have become more reliant on computer generated imagery (CGI). While also rudimentary at first, CGI effects have become a mainstay of modern Hollywood and can be used to create everything from entire digital worlds to completely change faces.
Although, as technologies continue to advance at an astounding rate, it does create a gap where CGI can sometimes look very dated (and at times comically bad) a few years removed from their release. In honor of those VFX that are no longer quite up to snuff, here are some of the most dated CGI-heavy films.
Star Wars Prequels
The Star Wars prequels may have earned their way into American’s heart based on sheer brand authority, but George Lucas’s CGI reliance steals the show for unnecessary and comically bad VFX. The infamous pear eating scene from Star Wars: Episode II – Attack of the Clones may be the ultimate example of CGI unchecked. The pear, which force floats across the room, seems as out of place as it is unnatural.
Spy Kids Franchise
While at its heart made for children, the entire Spy Kids franchise deserves mention for its seemingly gleeful habit of creating creatures and environments with no regard toward what is accurate or even plausible.
This final battle scene from Spy Kids 3-D: Game Over was meant to cap off Robert Rodriquez’s franchise — before he realized that the amount of money they would earn on minimal budgets (especially in the graphics departments) may never die.
The Ring Two
The sequel to the remake of the Japanese cult classic, The Ring Two was a widely criticized, too-quickly-released sequel which skimped on story development and CGI animation. You could call it ambitious to script a scene of deer indiscriminately attacking a car in broad daylight, or you might call it an unmitigated disaster. The entire film fell flat and will ultimately be forgotten, but the deer scene may live on in infamy.
Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull
It’s not surprising that one of the first adopters (and heavy investors) of CGI again pops up on the list. Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull (produced by Lucasfilm Ltd) was generally quite successful, but still scorned for its over-reliance on over-the-top CGI sequences and unnecessary effects.
Particularly of note: the scene featuring a CGI Shia LeBeouf swinging from CGI vines with CGI monkeys to the collective groan of movie audiences everywhere.
The Mummy Returns
The golden years of embarrassing CGI effects seemed to coincide perfectly with most popular installments of The Mummy franchise. Perhaps most notable was the 2001 follow-up The Mummy Returns which featured a CGI Scorpion King (complete with CGI-rendered face of Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson) skittering across the screen like a cut scene in a 90s video game.
Have any other regrettable CGI scenes in films you’d like to include? Let us know in the comments.