Holy shit, CGI has changed the way we
look at the world around us. Back in the 70’s if you were waiting for
the movie to start and the bucket of popcorn grew eyes and started
dancing around the counter top assisted by a reanimated bag of Skittles
you’d puke in your hat and call a ventriloquist, a priest, and a burly
cop six weeks from retirement to come deal with it. Now we can’t flip
through the channels without seeing a seemingly living 2,000 foot robot
whipping up a lather in his 17,000 foot shower or a muffin writhing out
of some bitch’s grasp as she does a walk-and-talk about menopause being a
real pisser. Superman
made us believe a man could fly but it wasn’t until The Revenge of the Sith
that we could believe that Christopher Lee had both Jedi Powers and
Phase-Shift Parkinsons.

CGI is an amazing tool that many
filmmakers wield like a digital Mjolnir,
creating worlds and creatures that take our breath away. Unfortunately
through the years some have used it as a scythe, slashing our dreams and
severing that muscle that connects our sexual pleasure organs to the
muscle that tells our mind we’re really good at using our sexual
pleasure organs. The result is oblivion.

So with that we bring you CHUD’s
latest glorious list. The twenty worst instances of CGI in movie
history. In no order. Well, except the order we decide to do them.

Brought to you by Elisabeth Rappe

THE OFFENDER: 300 (2007)

  There’s a lot of wonky CGI in 300, but I give the rhino and the elephants a pass because they’re what I think of as “heightened CGI.”  It’s not meant to look photoreal. These are the outlandish creatures you meet on a Greek frieze, and so they look it.  No, the major offender is when Xerxes decides to get up close and personal with King Leonidas.  (Not that could blame him, we’ve seen that ass.)  In order to symbolically show the Persians had bigger “army” than the Greeks, Xerxes becomes a giant.  A really lousy CGI giant. 

  On the drawing board.  Look, you have arrows that blot out the sun. You see “but a fraction of Xerxes’ army” drown in a thunderous ocean.  We observe miles upon miles of tents and campfires that threaten to overwhelm the musclebound Spartans.  By now, the audience gets it. Do you really need to say “I don’t think they do. Let’s make Xerxes a fucking giant.”

All right, so you want to get all symbolic. I can respect that. So spend a little extra money — tell the cast they can’t spray tan that day or something — and make sure it looks really good. Make sure we can’t see the ugly edges where you superimposed them together.  Also, make sure that you’re consistent. When Xerxes is hanging out in the tent with all his deformed Persian ladies, he should also seem to tower above them.   Instead, he seems to be the size of your average man again.  I guess he has access to Alice in Wonderland mushrooms.

HOW IT COULD HAVE BEEN DONE PRACTICALLY:  With forced perspective.  From what I remember from the special features, Gerard Butler and Rodrigo Santoro were never in the same room together. They shot the scenes separately, and special effects teams put them together, taking care to enlarge Santoro. (There’s no way to write about this without sounding like I’m writing a porn manual, is there?) The scene pictured below suggests there was some forced perspective used, I’m unsure. Santoro still looks freakish, like he’s been run through a computer and spat out again.    Contrast it to The Lord of the Rings, which is a fine example of how you can make average sized men like Viggo Mortensen and Ian McKellen look much, much bigger than their hobbit friends.  Realistically so, too, no giant, rubbery hands fondling Spartan shoulders.

You tell me. I think it’s laughable. When I saw the film at BNAT 8, I thought it was a rough cut.  I was sure the tender embrace of Xerxes and Leonidas would be cleaned up by the following March. But it wasn’t.  And it’s a shame. 300 is a film that’s pretty phenomenal to look at. (And I’m not just talking about the calves, the thighs, and the 8 packs.) You know none of it looks exactly real, but you can appreciate the artistry that went into it. This is one scene that jumps out and reminds you it’s all fake, fake, fake.