Computer-generated imagery can accomplish some truly astonishing things nowadays. With proper use it can create amazingly impossible things, add to already-impressive filmed scenes, and can bring us to entirely new worlds that would otherwise only exist in our imaginations. A good way to think of filmmakers and CGI is akin to a chef with salt—stay with me here. Phenomenal when added in the right proportions but when used improperly, too much (or too little) salt can absolutely ruin the entire meal. Tony Wilson and the wonderful folks over at Dorkly recently released a video for their “Today In Nerd History” series that points out when film makers seemingly threw handfuls of salt at their movies with reckless abandon.
Their list includes the necessity for John Wick‘s production team to create fake dog crap, 50 Shades of Gray bringing digital merkins (Look it up folks) into existence, Jessica Alba’s strange never-nudeness in Machete, and The Change-Up‘s errr… change-up of female naughty bits. Tony finishes off the list by making sure to mention what most of our minds go to on the topic of useless CGI: the scenes in E.T. where guns have been digitally replaced with walkie-talkies. Come to think of it, those scenes might just be the patient zero of unnecessary CG.
Highlighting some incredible practical effects toward the end of the video, Tony makes a solid case for not going overboard with computer graphics. That’s not to say everything should or can be completely practical effects, but the mixture is always a good thing. Having actors react to something real will ALWAYS be better than being told to imagine you’re running away from a monster with a tennis ball on a stick as a point of reference. The best CGI is the kind that doesn’t draw attention to itself.
Tony’s number one pick is especially damning for the use of CGI as not only one of the weirdest CG moments, but one that I hope someday has a great story behind it from a disgruntled ILM employee. We are of course talking about Anakin Skywalker’s “Force pear.” With CG so glaringly bad that it takes every bit of heartpounding “will they, won’t they” romance out of magically floating a third of a hand fruit to your not-girlfriend’s face. This was probably the weirdest thing Anakin ever accomplished since building C3P0 with the help of a spray painted wiffle-ball scoop.
What scenes should be on Dorkly’s list for baffling CGI? Let us know in the comments below.
Blake Rodgers writes for Nerdist from Chicago IL where he lives happily with his Guinness World Record for High Fives. You can be his pal by following him on Twitter (@TheBlakeRodgers)