CGI Is Not A Band-Aid

Note: this post is going to be primarily about live-action movies, not animated movies like Toy Story.

I am getting a little bit tired of the overuse and heavy reliance on CGI to do everything in movies nowadays. I feel as though some directors use CGI as a substitute for quality. Sometimes it feels as though directors go “Just slap some CGI on it and it will make money.”

Now, don’t get me wrong, there are plenty of times where there are few options but to use CGI. It would be extremely difficult to make movies where giant robots fight each other or have massive alien ships drop down out of the sky without the use of CGI.

There’s a movie critic on youtube who I watch regularly called The Nostalgia Critic. He posed a video about his views on the over-reliance on CGI, and I agree with the majority of his views. There were just a few things I wanted to add to what he said. You can watch his video here.

I feel as though CGI should be used to enhance the visuals, not be the only visuals. I like how Chris Nolan will go for physical effects instead of simply using CGI. For example, in The Dark Knight during the chase scene with the Joker in the semi and Batman on his bat-cycle Christopher Nolan actually flipped the real semi head-over-heels onto it’s roof! That was AWESOME! Sure, it could easily have been done with CGI, but Nolan chose to do it the hard way, with a huge piston underneath the truck to flip it right the fuck over! Also, at the beginning of The Dark Knight Rises he actually dropped a real plane out of the sky from another plane! I loved Jurassic Park because there were lots of animatronic dinosaurs along with the CGI ones. Lord of the Rings had a lot of CGI, yes, but it also had a lot of practical effects, camera tricks like forced perspective, miniatures and “big-atures”. I think that if some special effect can be done practically, then why use CGI to do it? What I want to stress here is that I’m not against the use of CGI, I’m against heavy reliance on it to “make” the movie. It’s the old “style over substance” debate. If your movie has problems with the script or direction or whatever, you can’t just slap a giant CGI band-aid on it and say that it’s fixed. On top of the overblown CGI messes of today there is the new fad of  3D everything, but I’ll discuss that next month.