This Cracked article is devoted to taking an axe to the trailers for Jurassic World and Terminator: Genesys, detailing why everyone is saying they look fake as hell. Author David Christopher Bell further goes into why their forebears (Jurassic Park, T2) from the primordial days of CGI in the early ’90s looked so much better.
As further evidence, here is an article from an industry website read by digital artists themselves. In their top-5 list of all-time greatest CGI movies, the only one produced in the last 10 years was Avatar. Their #1 choice was, yep, the original Jurassic Park, which is old enough to drink. And this is a website by and for industry professionals. Even they acknowledge their current work has yet to beat a movie that came out in an era where graphics workstations had a fraction of the CPU power of a freaking iPhone.
It’s a shame the Cracked article made no mention of Star Wars, because no article about CGI failure is complete without mentioning George Lucas and his execrable prequels.
A comprehensive list of why, exactly, the prequels suck would make for a book that looks like this:
… but let’s start with George’s insane overuse of CGI. During press interviews of the time, he could not talk about anything but CGI. He went on and on about how glad he had CGI when he was forced to use models and on-scene live shooting for the originals.
But as sophisticated as computer imaging has gotten today, let alone the turn-of-the-millenium era of the prequels, it’s still hard to fool the human brain into thinking that it’s looking at something real. For instance, insane amounts of talent, computer hardware and man-hours went into the creation of Gollum for the Lord of the Rings movies. It certainly was a technical marvel… but my brain did not buy for one second that Frodo and Sam were interacting with anything but a cartoon. It’s not that I’m somehow incapable of suspension of disbelief — I was totally buying that Helm’s Deep was under siege by 10,000 orcs, for instance. But then again, the orcs we see up close were played by real actors with a crapload of makeup. I even knew the actor who played the one orc who ran up with that torch to light the bombs.
(At parties, he loves hearing: “Anyone got a light?”)
But do you think you or I would have bought into that army of orcs if they were all CGI and the whole movie was shot on green-screen? Which is what would have happened if Lucas was running the show? Hell no.