In the world of movies, a budget can only be stretched so far to create hulking green monsters, realistic-looking spaceships, or add an extra layer to crazy action sequences. That means film crews occasionally need to cut corners hoping the viewers won’t notice – a plan that doesn’t always work out. And some terrible effects are too big to miss.
Here are Screen Rant’s 10 Special Effects Fails in Popular Movies.
The Mummy Returns
Although the first movie in the series featured the reverse-decay of a 3,000 year old mummy, biblical plagues, and flesh-eating beetles, it’s the film’s sequel, The Mummy Returns, that makes this list. The movie features large CGI set pieces like a hundred-foot high tidal wave and a massive jungle, but the graphics weren’t as polished when it came to rendering Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson as the part-human, part-insect Scorpion King. The computer-generated creature was criticized for looking more like a video game character than a movie’s villain, especially considering the effects of the movie that came before it.
Star Trek Insurrection
The 1998 Star Trek movie relied on a mix of practical sets, make up and computer generated effects to create the alien planets and outer space needed for its sci-fi storyline. But the movie is best remembered for its shortcomings, starting with its villains, who practice a strange form of skin-stretching to keep looking young. When the same machine is used against a Starfleet officer’s will, the result is… terrible. Besides not making any real sense, the face-stretching is so out of place and ugly, the movie simply NOT showing him being killed would have been a better idea.
Plenty of moviegoers took issue with George Lucas’ use of green screen for the Star Wars prequels, or tweaking scenes from his original trilogy for no real reason. But one scene sticks out in all re-released versions of the first movie. In 1997, Lucas decided that computer effects would finally let him use a deleted scene where Han first crosses paths with Jabba the Hutt. A CG Jabba was painted in over the human actor, and things only got worse from there. Whether you like the scene or not, it’s obvious that technology wasn’t where it needed to be to make the CG Jabba match the original puppet. And when Han had to be artificially raised and lowered over Jabba’s tail, fans completely forgot they were watching a billion-dollar property, not an amateur computer class.
You would think that a movie capable of delivering one truly amazing CG creation should be able to keep that standard across the board. But Peter Jackson’s King Kong wasn’t up to the task. The work done with actor andy Serkis to bring the giant gorilla to life was incredible, but the dinosaur chase scene… wasn’t. The first few shots of a brontosaurus stampede can be forgiven, but as the sequence went on – and on, and on – the effects went from bad to worse. Mismatched ffects that know they’re bad are one thing, but the movie seemed to have no idea how many eyes would be rolling. And that can never be forgiven.
The modern reboot of Robocop put its budget to good use, but the original 1987 film only had $13 million to work with. Fans can be thankful that a good chunk of that budget was spent on the practically-built Robocop suits alone, and relying on practical effects to make officer Alex Murphy into a crimestopping cyborg. But the final face off between Robocop and the movie’s corporate villain turned to computers for an added punch, sending him crashing through a window and falling to his death. Apparently there wasn’t time to take a second crack at the shot when they realized the artificial model’s limbs were completely out of proportion with a normal human’s. Considering the magic the crew pulled off with practical effects, this laughable finale sticks out like a sore thumb.
Out of the three films in the Blade series, Blade II became the most critically well-received and financially successful of the trilogy, though the sequel is far from perfect. Despite his years of martial arts work, director Guillermo del Toro thought a CG version of Wesley Snipes would work best, taking a fight with two masked vampires to even more superhuman levels. It was an interesting idea, but once the real swordplay was handed off to CG characters, the sequence became one that fans would soon want to forget, with effects that looked like they belonged in a video game, not a movie – in the worst way possible.
Harrison Ford’s starring role as The Fugitive‘s Dr. Richard Kimble helped guarantee that the story of a man wrongfully accused of murdering his wife would be a hit, with U.S. Marshall Sam Gerard – played by Tommy Lee Jones – stacking the odds even further. But when the men first come face to face, Gerard leaves his target with no choice but to leap to the uncertain waters below. The movie managed to stage an impressive train crash, but their dummy budget was apparently scaled back as a result. We’re not saying Ford, or even a stuntman, should have made the jump, but maybe finding a dummy with arms that actually bent would have been a good place to start.
Escape from L.A.
After rescuing the President from the island-turned-prison of Manhattan in Escape from New York, Snake Plisskin returns in Escape from L.A. to save the president’s daughter from the island of sin that Los Angeles has become. Unlike the first film, Escape from L.A. had a relatively massive budget of $50 million. But all that cash couldn’t save the movie’s now-notorious surf scene in which star Kurt Russell pretends to ride a poorly realized tidal wave, while actually acting against a green screen. It may have helped the movie’s campy fun, but the scene wasn’t on the level that any fan could have reasonably hoped for.
It was a very real shark puppet that led Steven Spielberg to huge success with the first Jaws, but by the third movie in the series, there weren’t any reservations about using CGI to render the great white shark in three dimensions. Jaws 3-D probably planned to use the effect to enhance the tension, and as a gimmick to lure in audiences. But the result was at best, cheesy, and at worst, possibly one of the most ridiculous shots to ever make it into a blockbuster hopeful. To make things worse, the motionless shark and stunned actors were highlighted in slow-motion, so audiences wouldn’t miss a single terrible frame.
Star Wars: Attack of The Clones
One of the biggest complaints about the Star Wars prequel trilogy is George Lucas’ use of CGI, favoring fake green screen over actual sets or costumes. There are plenty of bad effects to picks as a result, but the worst in the prequel trilogy has to be the Republic’s clone troopers. Unlike the CGI aliens and impossible sets in the other prequels, George Lucas could have filmed actors in trooper armor, but instead, not a single suit of the stormtrooper-precursors was ever made. The CG troopers were a perfect study in the uncanny valley, looking and acting almost human, but falling short, leaving audiences turned off or taken out of the film completely. Since some investment in their ranks was needed for the emotional twists of the entire trilogy… it was probably a bad call in the long run.
So what do you think of our list? Did we miss any bad special effects in your favorite movies? Let us know in our comment section and don’t forget to subscribe to our channel for more videos like this one.