Last night’s season finale of LOST had many good moments. In fact, there were some I’m sure will go down as some of the best in the series’ history. But it should have been better. And there are definitely two moments where LOST blew its load by deciding to blatantly show its budget.
Both of these moments occured when the showrunners decided to show big, violent explosions by way of CGI. Previously in the series, there had been moments that were definitely CGI, and yet it didn’t really matter. Why? Because they were not emotionally-wound moments. Does it really matter if the Smoke Monster looks completely real or that the Oceanic 815 plane that streaks across the sky looks and moves exactly like a real one? No. It’s really no biggie. We get the idea.
But it’s when you stage two climatic moments in a heavily-promoted season finale with dodgy effects that you risk losing your power. The first moment came when the Freighter blew up just as the helicopter took off and Jin was screaming for them to come back. The resulting explosion of the ship looked almost completely terrible. And it almost completely ruined Jin’s death for me to the point where I just wanted Sun to stop bawling. Seriously. The other moment came when the helicopter ran out of fuel and ended up crash-landing into the Pacific Ocean. For the most part, the crew did a good job of creating tension without resorting to effects; but when the helicopter actually hit the water, it looked nothing like the real thing. In fact, it looked more like something Michael Bay would pre-vis in his sleep. It was embarrasing.
So why do these moments of dodgy effects bother me so much? Because they could be easily avoided. Now, I understand that LOST has a terribly short postproduction period time before each episode airs (especially with the writer’s strike), but if they KNOW they will have these two climatic CGI scenes in the show, why can’t they start them sooner? Or even better, why can’t they be a little smarter with their camera angles? There are plenty of other ways they could of shot the Freighter explosion that wouldn’t have looked so cheap and would not have cost as much money to do. And as for the helicopter crash – remember when the FedEx plane hit the ocean in “Cast Away”? For the most part (as far as I remember), we never saw the plane hit the water; we only saw what it looked like from inside the plane. When the plane was just about to hit the waves, you saw them through the pilot’s window for enough of a moment to send you in a state of panic. That was brilliant. And surely saved Robert Zemeckis a ton of money. If they had done something similar with LOST, it would have made a much more believable and startling crash.
LOST is not the only culprit, for sure, when it comes to irresponsible uses of CGI. I recently forced myself to watch ‘Evan Almighty’ with my family and found countless moments in which the shots could have been done differently so that the effects didn’t look so bad and that it certainly would not have cost 200 million dollars to make. I admire people like Guillermo Del Toro who can make something completely epic with a tiny, tiny budget because they know how to get the most out of their shots. I even remember how Joss Whedon would sneak in a short ‘Firefly’ take-off shot amidst a busy city just so that you got a sense of scope, even if it was only for a second or two.
Now, I love my LOST and certainly have no intentions to abandon the show despite it’s CGI failures. But for all the smart people behind the scenes that the show employs, it would be nice if they could take better care of their climatic moments so that we might not feel so cheated or apathetic.
Oh, and LOST? Shame on you for killing Keamy. I loved that dude.