Worst Abuses of CGI

Clarisse Loughrey

"You know how the script has this scene where these two characters have a conversation? Well, maybe these characters could have that conversation in the middle of a battle between robots and dinosaurs in a laser disco while a fireworks factory explodes behind them." – every producer ever. Why not save the time and effort and just throw a bucket of money at the camera? We get it, you blew the budget on this. And sometimes you guys just get too ambitious and these crimes against judgement happen...

1. Birdemic: Shock and Terror (James Nguyen, 2010) 

I actually don't know whether this even counts as CGI, because those birds look suscpiciously like those crappy animated GIFs people liked to put on their websites in the '90s. This seriously has to be, hands down, the worst piece of CGI I have ever had the misfortune to witness. Scratch that, the worst piece of special effects as a whole. At least Ed Wood comes off like he put some care and attention into tying string onto hubcaps when making Plan 9 From Outer Space's spaceships. This just looks like someone's copy and pasted something a child made on the internet. Let this be a warning to anyone who funds their special effects crew with change they found down the back of the sofa.

2. Mega Shark vs. Giant Octopus (Jack Perez, 2009)

About 90 per cent of CGI-based crimes are commited by giant animal B-movies. You know, the ones with names like Slothosaurus or MegaCarp (not real, sorry); anything that sounds so stupid you just have to watch it. However, if you're only going to watch one giant animal B-movie, you might as well get double for your money and watch Mega Shark vs. Giant Octopus. If only for the fact it includes this delightful scene in which a shark manages to jump high enough (with the aide of a trampoline the size of Chicago, I assume) to eat a jumbo jet. It's just a shame the camera was so out of focus when trying to capture this historical event.

3. Star Wars: Episode VI- Return of the Jedi (Richard Marquand, 1983)

The other 10 per cent of CGI crimes are commited by George Lucas going back and ruining every good thing he ever did with his life. It's the equivalent to Da Vinci going back 10 years after painting the Mona Lisa and chucking a bucket of Dulux Paint in Sea Breeze all over it. There's no justification for it. Absolutely no one except the voices in George Lucas' head were demanding any kind of CGI additions to the classic trilogy. While there's absolutely loads of stuff to choose from in Lucas' horrible "revisioned" re-releases, I've always been the most weirded out by the re-do of this scene from Jabba the Hut's palace. It was already kind of stupid to begin with, but I will never understand why Lucas thought the singer really needed to be more obvious and more gyrating and that she should leer at the camera with her giant gross lips because...MERCHANDISING!

4. Let the Right One In (Tomas Alfredson, 2008)

This is a particularly sad example because it comes from a film which is otherwise so hauntingly perfect. It's clear the screenwriter behind this was a dog owner, being the only explanation for his total lack of awarness of how crap cats are at following instructions. See, if this were a scene involving a dog attack, real dogs would have been more than happy to serve their owners by growling and pacing. While here: notice how the only real cat in this scene is just sitting there, doing nothing, the only thing that cats will do on command.

5. Anaconda 3 (Don E. FonteLeRoy, 2008)

Here's another great entry into the giant animal B-movie collection of bad CGI. This is basically what happens when you take the poor CGI of a giant animal B-movie, then run it through the natural decline in quality of being not the first, but second sequel: a crappy-looking big snake that's vision is a sepia-toned Instagram filter. At least David Hasselhoff was there to scare it away.

7. Green Lantern (Martin Campbell, 2011)

What makes me so angry about this abuse of CGI is how deeply, deeply uncessary it was TO CGI ON RYAN REYNOLD'S MASK, let alone the rest of his ridiculous-looking suit. I just can't process why they thought putting on some spandex like every single other superhero on film wasn't good enough for their precious blockbuster. Especially because they already would have been so busy rendering all that bland, forgettable "space stuff" which makes up the rest of this crapfest. 

7. The Langoliers (Patricia Wettig, 1995)

Probably not Stephen King's favourite adaptation of one of his novels, The Langoliers asks the question: what if Pacman turned EVVVVIIIILLLLLL?

8. Die Another Day (Lee Tamahori, 2002)

Look, I think we all need to accept that the Bond franchise is absolutely filled with ridiculous action scenes. Remember when his gondola turned into a speedboat in Moonraker? Or that bad guy who inflated like a balloon and exploded in Live and Let Die? I think I've made my point. Technically, having Bond windsurf a giant CGI tsunami really shouldn't be that out of line with what's happened before. Which is easy until you watch it again and remember how incredibly, painfully stupid this scene was. Almost as stupid as that scene with fencing Madonna. God, this movie was so stupid.

9. Sharktopus (Declan O'Brien, 2010)

It's a shark. And an octopus. TOGETHER IN ONE.

10. The Mummy Returns (Stephen Sommers, 2001)

I feel kind of sad having to end the list with this, because I had such a genuine adoration of The Rock circa 2001. For some unexplainable reason, 11-year-old me just thought The Rock was the coolest guy on the planet. Fast Five wasn't even a thing back then. However this is beyond forgiveness. To put this in perspective, let's just remember that this was released the same year as The Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring. One movie was produced by the Hollywood gargantuan Universal Pictures, while the other had its special effects produced by a little known company called Weta Workshop. A company who had previously worked on Xena: Warrior Princess. Just let that sink in for a second, then, go on, have a little cry about the future of humanity.

What heinous acts of CGI make you want to cry about the future of humanity? Let us know in the comments!

Follow Clarisse on Twitter: @clarisselou

Top image via

Unconventional by Tradition

Discover how urban creatives helped us design our new packaging.

Read more