Are you talkin’ to me? A film column by Jamie Hill
There was a moment in the original Jurassic Park where CGI first became something wonderful. Something that changed cinema forever.
It was the reveal of the dinosaurs in all their glory. They seemed alive up there on the screen. The world had never seen anything like it before.
Before that in the early infancy of CGI it had always seemed a bit shonky. But from that moment CGI could bring the imaginary and the magical to life.
And since then it has had a fantastic impact on cinema giving us the wonderful films of Pixar where every hair is done to the minute detail to the visuals of Avatar where a whole alien world is brought to life.
But then came the over-reliance. And the downright stupid.
Before CGI, movie magic was performed with animatronics, amazing creature effects, brilliant design and camera trickery. But film-makers became obsessed with the green screen and actors having to interact with tennis balls on sticks.
The best films used both. The Harry Potter franchise and Lord of the Rings being two great examples of this.
But even now 24 years later, there are films that simply get it wrong and we’re not just talking low budget films. Who remembers the horrible CGIed Dwayne Johnson at the end of the Mummy Returns? Horrible stuff.
And more recently Justice League really ballsed up by making their main baddie Steppenwolf look like he had just stepped out of a Sega Megadrive game in the early nineties. I’m not even going to mention Superman’s CGIed out moustache which just looked frankly wrong. And in the latest Avengers: Infinity War trailer Thanos looks like a big cheesy Wotsit (let’s hope they improve the CGI before the film comes out!)
But there are still absolutely wonderful examples of what can be done with the technology. And you have to look no further than the latest slew of Planet of the Apes films to see how this can be done to still make the hairs on the back of your neck stand up.
I’m all for CGI but most of all, especially in live action films, I don’t want to even be able to tell that it’s being used.
It needs to be so lifelike that it feels alive. We’ve got the technology now but we just need it to be used in the right way.