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Are Today’s VFX Ruining Movies?

by Paul Strauss

Having grown up in the late ’70s and through the 1980s, I’ve seen science fiction and action movies make the full transition from being done without CGI at all, to having entire scenes created by computer animation.

While I’m not one to get hung up on sentimentality, I have to say that I’m pretty burnt out on the giant action sequences that are so commonly found in franchises like The Avengers and Transformers. As a computer geek myself, I’ve always been fascinated by CGI and have great appreciation for the artists and technicians who are responsible for this work. That said, I find that scenes that rely too heavily on CGI seem to have lost something when compared to their counterparts from prior decades.

As StoryBrain points out in his somewhat controversial video called The WETA Effect, the problem seems to be rooted in the lack of relatability of the scenes. Rather than injecting a single CGI or practical effect onto a real world backdrop, these new scenes replace everything, from the backgrounds to the actors. This often creates a sense of hyperrealism that I find to be less believable than the way that effects used to be done.

For me, I also think it has to do with the idea that there is no sense of consequence for the actors when scenes are created this way. For instance, the sense of tension in the car chases in the practical stunt driven Mad Max: Fury Road is much greater than it is when they jumped that CGI car between buildings in Furious 7. Of course, this is also proof that modern movies can still kick ass, when in the hands of the right director.

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