Even though most of us will have a hard time believing it or recalling it, there was a time when CGI really wasn't a thing. It's not like that stopped directors and producers from making high-quality films. However, when it comes down to fantasy movies, it sure does help to have some besides puppets, strings, and your imagination.
When used poorly, CGI can completely destroy a movie. It doesn't really matter how big of a budget you have, if you go overboard with the special effects, you can wave those stellar critics goodbye. But when used properly, CGI can come in handy to make some scenes even better than they already are. And how do you know if it was well used? Well, most of the time, if audiences don't notice it! Let's take a look at ten instances from fantasy movies where the use of CGI was seamless.
10 Shazam! - The Shopping Bags
Shazam! hit the screens pretty recently. With a mix of good and bad reviews, one thing is for certain - this movie speaks to all fourteen-year-olds out there who wish they had superpowers. It's a fairly entertaining movie and a fresh take on superheroes in a day and age where Marvel and DC are everywhere.
Overall, it didn't go too far with CGI besides the bare essentials. However, there was a particularly seamless instance when Shazam is fighting Dr.Sivana at the mall, and some shoppers appear in the scene. These were actual crew members shot accidentally, and shopping bags were added to make it seem intentional.
9 The Chronicles of Narnia: The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe - The Wolves' Tales
Obviously, the Chronicles of Narnia movies were swimming in CGI. It's pretty much impossible to find any of the creatures in this imaginary world roaming around the streets of our cities. These were pretty obvious scenes where digital effects were used, along with several scenic shots.
But when it came down to the wolves that destroyed the Beavers' homes in The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe, although pretty much all of the animals were actual wolves, their tales were digitally inserted using CGI. This happened because the animals kept wagging their tales, making them look more like sweet puppies than vicious beasts.
8 E.T. The Extra-Terrestrial - The Walkie Talkies
E.T. The Extra-Terrestrial is one of those heart-warming classics that will live in our memories forever. The genius of director Steven Spielberg didn't keep him from introducing us to an extraterrestrial on a flying bike all the way back in 1982 when CGI was something still rough around the edges.
But besides the most obvious things, there is a curious thing that was altered from the original recording using digital techniques. During the police standoff, the officers were originally pointing guns at the kids. But because this was considered quite a horrible practice, walkie-talkies were inserted instead - and incredibly seamlessly too!
7 Charlie And The Chocolate Factory - The Oompa Loompas
While the original motion picture of Charlie And The Chocolate Factory was the one that gifted us a meme that will probably last forever, Tim Burton's more wonky and colorful version also has its merits. Aside from the stellar performance, Johnny Depp gave us as Charlie, the movie also gave us the weird little creatures called Oompa Loompas.
Curiously enough, every single one of the Oompa Loompas was played by the same actor, and CGI was used to replicate him. Even though special effects were used, each Oompa Loompa consists of a different performance by Deep Roy. A great example of acting and CGI working together!
6 Harry Potter And The Sorcerer's Stone - The Great Hall Candles
Look, as much as we wish magic wands and flying cars were actually a thing, they simply aren't. At least not for now, or at least not in a universe we're familiar with. Describing all the things that were CGI in the Harry Potter movie franchise could fill a couple of textbooks, so we'll focus on the more subtle details.
In the first installment of the series, after experimentation went wrong, it was decided that the floating candles had to be done using CGI. This happened because the initial attempt of having actual candles hanging by wires almost resulted in a true disaster. The second best thing would probably be a spell, though, but we're okay with special effects!
5 Harry Potter And The Half-Blood Prince - The Pensive Liquid
Not much was ever truly jolly when it comes to the Harry Potter movies. We did get some laughs, mostly thanks to the awesome characters of Ron Weasley and Neville Longbottom, but something dark was always looming around. And the sixth installment of the series was when things started taking an even more dramatic turn to the worst.
The scenes where Dumbledore yanks his thoughts out of his head with a wand are somewhat uncomfortable, and we couldn't help but wonder what kind of mushy liquid was used to represent the liquid in the pensive. As it turns out, the whole thing was digitally inserted using CGI. Everybody chill, it wasn't snot after all.
4 Harry Potter And The Deathly Hallows Part 1 - Godric's Hollow
Many iconic sets and views were used throughout the entire Harry Potter series, and many of them were actual places. Even though some pretty obvious alterations had to be made for the sake of magic, many landscapes retained their original characteristics without needing to be altered.
The place all fans know as Godric's Hollow is, in reality, the historic village of Lavenham, Suffolk. All the scenes that happen there didn't use any CGI, except for one - when Hermione and Harry are walking, the whole thing was created digitally. And very masterfully, we might add, since it was barely noticeable.
3 Bridge To Terabithia - Jess And Maybelle
Bridge To Terabithia explored the creative minds of children in the most poetic and beautiful way possible. Also, it awarded us with a pre-teen Josh Hutcherson, which is always a cute sight to behold. While the world created by the two main characters, Jess and Maybelle, is truly a sight to behold, it's safe to say that most of it couldn't be accomplished without special effects.
But the movie did feature an extremely smooth CGI move. When we see the huge panorama shot of this wonderful world that is Terabithia, we also see the two friends. However, none of the actors were actually present, and they were inserted using CGI instead, mostly for practicality purposes.
2 Cinderella - The Glass Slipper
Live-action Disney movies tend to be a hit or miss. As much as we all love the chance of seeing our childhood heroes being portrayed on-screen once more by actual actors, CGI can completely butcher characters (yes, we're looking at the Beast from Beauty And The Beast because, honestly, what was that?).
Cinderella was actually a very good example of a Disney movie turned real. The special effects weren't overboard, and everything was pretty believable - as far as fairy godmothers can be. Hats off to the special effects team for making the glass slipper fitting into Cinderella's foot completely CGI since, ironically enough, the original it didn't fit on Lily James' foot.
1 Pan's Labyrinth - The Faun's Non-Legs
When it comes to beautiful fantasy movies that also have the power to scar you for life, nothing can hold a candle to Spanish classic Pan's Labyrinth. It's eery, it's magical, and at times, outright fear-inducing. The movie gets a place on its list due to a very interesting use of CGI.
Instead of adding something, this time around we're talking about removing. See, the Faun's legs were actually a concoction from director Guillermo Del Toro that allowed the actor to control them, which is why the movements seem so seamless and natural. In post-production, CGI was used to remove the actor's legs and voilá - we got ourselves a Faun!
NEXT: 10 Most Underrated Sci-Fi/Fantasy Films Of The Last 20 Years