Computer-generated imagery (CGI) has become a prevalent feature in modern movies, spanning various genres such as action, superhero, sci-fi, and fantasy. One notable example of groundbreaking CGI implementation is James Cameron’s Avatar, where motion capture technology played a pivotal role. Despite notable successes, there are also instances of CGI falling short.
The challenges and costs involved in achieving seamless CGI are immense, leading to a considerable number of films featuring subpar CGI sequences. Among the most demanding aspects to execute convincingly are large-scale action scenes and de-aging effects. Even experts can identify flaws in most CGI, but the most egregious mistakes can be apparent to general audiences.
Regardless of a movie’s release date, substandard CGI can still be found. Various factors contribute to poor CGI, including budget limitations, tight deadlines, and even scheduling conflicts involving actors. When a significant portion of the audience notices subpar CGI, it can lead to the film gaining a notorious reputation.
In the film Green Lantern, one notable aspect was the CGI suit worn by a superhero. The vibrant green color and its interaction with Ryan Reynolds’ skin gave it an unnatural appearance, resembling a coating of goo. Furthermore, the suit’s mask covered his eyes, resulting in the need for animated features reminiscent of a video game character rather than an actor in a movie.
In terms of visual aesthetics, Reynolds’ CGI body proportions were noticeably exaggerated, featuring a small waist, thin arms, and broad shoulders. This portrayal leaned more towards a cartoonish depiction rather than a realistic human form. Additionally, several secondary characters and the constructs generated by their power rings were entirely CGI, which further emphasized the reliance on computer-generated imagery.
Unfortunately, the villain Parallax, with its lackluster and poorly designed CGI rendering, failed to impress fans. As a result, the film faced criticism and disappointment from viewers.
Black Panther, an outstanding film that achieved remarkable success at the box office, owed its triumph to its captivating characters and immersive world-building. Nevertheless, similar to several contemporary Marvel movies, it grappled with an excessive reliance on computer-generated imagery (CGI) instead of practical effects. The movie showcased ambitious and diverse action sequences, encompassing intense one-on-one combat as well as large-scale battle scenes.
One particular aspect that contributed to the predicament was the complete reliance on CGI for T’Challa’s suit. This approach, akin to Catwoman’s portrayal, resulted in CGI movements that veered into an unsettling and unnatural realm. To compound matters, the editors opted to incorporate motion blur as an attempt to conceal the numerous CGI flaws, further exacerbating the issue.
The 2004 film Catwoman utilized an unusual and heavily stylized approach to CGI. The use of CGI predominantly occurred during action and acrobatic scenes, where a CGI model of Catwoman was favored over a human stunt double. This decision proved to be detrimental, as the acrobatic CGI often made the character appear overly stretchy and unnatural.
Furthermore, the filmmakers’ choice to depict Catwoman leaping great distances into the air before gracefully walking with a seductive allure added to the poor quality of the CGI. It is widely known that a significant portion of the film’s budget was allocated to paying the cast rather than investing in the visual effects department, which is evident in the final product on screen.
Ang Lee made his directorial debut in the live-action theatrical adaptation of Marvel’s iconic character, Hulk, in 2003. However, critics were quick to point out flaws in the CGI used to bring the character to life on the big screen. Unlike the CGI used in She-Hulk, which has faced its fair share of criticism, the CGI in Hulk failed to properly capture the character’s movements and suffered from a flawed character model.
Another issue that emerged with the 2003 film was the excessive use of CGI to introduce new adversaries, such as the Hulk Dogs. These gamma-infused threats were intended to be menacing but ended up appearing more cartoonish than intimidating. This overreliance on CGI undermined the portrayal of the Hulk’s immense power and left some fans feeling unsatisfied.
Peter Jackson’s 2005 reboot of King Kong had commendable writing and marked a significant advancement in motion capture technology. Although the motion capture performance by Andy Serkis brought Kong to life with believable movements, the CGI elements fell short in terms of realism, often disrupting the film’s immersive atmosphere.
The integration of Kong into his surroundings was particularly problematic, as the stark contrast between practical effects and CGI became noticeable to audiences. The CGI-rendered environments, including the jungle and city settings, failed to impress and appeared lacking in quality. Unlike some earlier CGI films that have aged well, the environments in King Kong resembled those found in low-budget video games rather than a high-profile Hollywood blockbuster.
Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull, released in 2008, received widespread criticism for various reasons, particularly its heavy reliance on CGI. This installment came as a surprise to fans, who believed the franchise had concluded with 1989’s The Last Crusade. The film follows Indiana Jones, accompanied by his lover and son, as they battle Soviet agents in their quest for the titular alien artifact.
The introduction of aliens into the Indiana Jones universe seemed implausible and was met with skepticism. Moreover, the excessive use of CGI throughout the movie was widely regarded as a detriment. The CGI effects, ranging from an improbable survival from a nuclear blast by hiding in a fridge to Indy’s son swinging through the jungle like Tarzan, added little value to the plot, leaving fans disappointed with this fourth entry in the series.
The 2019 film adaptation of Cats was widely criticized by both audiences and critics due to its unsettling and unnatural visuals. The decision to create CGI human/cat hybrids resulted in a lack of believability and garnered significant negative attention. The characters’ size inconsistency with their surroundings further accentuated the flawed scaling of the digital environments.
Cats was widely regarded as an incomplete production hastily released in theaters. Numerous unfinished aspects of the characters, such as human hands instead of paws, highlighted the rushed nature of the film. Moreover, viewers were quick to point out the subpar lighting in many scenes, further undermining the realism and adding to the overall strangeness of the film.
The second installment of The Matrix trilogy is an entertaining film with intriguing concepts, but it exceeded the technological capabilities of its time. The movie’s simulated reality allowed for forgiving larger-than-life action sequences and stunts. However, there was one scene that disappointed fans due to its poor execution.
In Neo’s battle against numerous Agent Smith clones, the visual quality fell short, resembling graphics from a PlayStation 2 game. Neo’s character model appeared unnatural, and the limitations of the green screen were evident. Despite the scene’s enjoyability and subsequent imitations in other media, the subpar CGI characters were hard to ignore.
The Mummy Returns, released in 2001, served as the highly anticipated sequel to the popular reboot of The Mummy. Regrettably, Dwayne Johnson’s portrayal of the Scorpion King has gone down in history as one of the most poorly executed CGI creations in the world of cinema. At the time, Johnson’s wrestling commitments prevented him from providing sufficient reference footage for the digital artists, leaving them to fill in the gaps for the climactic showdown.
In theory, the Scorpion King seemed like a fascinating hybrid creature, combining the features of a man and a scorpion, complete with disfiguring scars and formidable pincers. Unfortunately, the visual realization fell short of expectations. The lighting was subpar, resulting in an unconvincing appearance. The creature’s movements appeared jittery and stiff, lacking the fluidity necessary for believability. Moreover, the facial rigging was executed so poorly that it resembled a rudimentary clay sculpture rather than a sophisticated CGI creation. Consequently, the Scorpion King’s portrayal remains a haunting reminder of its era, leaving a lasting impression on audiences.
Sharknado‘s story lacks substance, the action is barely enjoyable, and the acting is subpar. However, the most egregious flaw of the movie is its CGI, particularly the inclusion of flying great white sharks. The CGI is not only highly unrealistic but also biologically inaccurate.
The film’s coloring is consistently off, making it obvious whenever CGI is used. While Sharknado may reflect the era in which it was made, there is no excuse for the multitude of mistakes present in this production. From poorly simulated blood effects to questionable astronaut models, Sharknado epitomizes terrible CGI and astonishingly spawned a franchise with equally inferior visual effects.