Visual effects have come a long way since Bruce the shark made production on Jaws a living hell for Steven Spielberg. Thanks to the advent of CGI, filmmakers can do just about anything they imagine. This has led to space ships and creatures that look more photorealistic than ever, and some viewers have trouble telling if what they’re looking at is real or digital. There’s no shortage of great examples of these techniques, but not everyone is capable of knocking it out of the park. Sometimes we watch a scene and wonder what the director was thinking when he approved the effects. Here are 10 shockingly bad uses of CGI in famous movies.
X-Men Origins: Wolverine
This film is one of the most maligned in the comic book genre for several factors, including an apparently rushed post-production. One of the defining aspects of Wolverine is his claws, and fans love it when Logan brings them out. In this prequel though, moviegoers were angered by what they saw. After receiving his adamantium skeleton, Wolverine examines his new metal claws, and they are painful to look at. They’re so obviously cartoonish, they look like something out of Who Framed Roger Rabbit. Considering that the claws looked more realistic nine years earlier in the first X-Men, this is inexcusable.
The Hobbit: The Battle of the Five Armies
Peter Jackson’s Lord of the Rings trilogy was noteworthy for its extensive use of practical effects, but the director’s Hobbit trilogy leaned extensively on CGI. Arguably, he went too far in a few places. The climactic fight sequence in Battle of the Five Armies includes a scene where Legolas basically defies the laws of physics as he runs up a tower that has been knocked over by a troll. It’s so ridiculous that even the Myth Busters had to come out and prove it couldn’t actually happen. We’re all for suspending disbelief in movies, but some things have to be grounded for us to buy in.
Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull
Like so many blockbusters of its era, the original Indiana Jones trilogy pioneered some amazing practical visual effects, but Steven Spielberg couldn’t resist the temptations of CGI for the fourth installment. Fans knew things were off from the start, when a digital gopher popped his head up in the first scene. For many, this was a bad omen that Crystal Skull would rely too much on digital technology as opposed to the old school techniques that made its predecessors memorable. It was an odd choice and seemed to serve no real purpose. A real gopher, or even an animatronic one, might have led to better results.
As we’ve said many times before, getting a superhero’s costume right for his or her big screen adaptation is a priority. Martin Campbell went in a very interesting direction while making Green Lantern: he decided the whole suit should be CGI. While some comic book blockbusters will digitally augment small sections – like a cape – this was unprecedented and came under intense scrutiny by fans. The costume did not look very good on the big screen, and even Ryan Reynolds had to be disappointed by the results. How else can you explain the jab at the Green Lantern costume in Deadpool? Hopefully for the reboot, WB makes a real costume.
This film had a lot of problems on its path to the big screen, so some slight errors could be forgiven. That said, some of the CGI on display definitely does not clear the bar many expect in 2015. In one sequence, the Thing throws a tank that immediately disappears in an explosion, without any trace of the vehicle left. A careful examination of certain scenes also shows that portions of the digitally inserted background has been copied and pasted throughout the frame, creating a sloppy look for what should be a visually stunning film. Badly rendered effects were the least of this movie’s problems, but they’re still glaring issues.