The Top Seven Movies Ruined by CGI

July 2, 2010

When computer-generated imagery gets incorporated into a movie it can take a film to a whole new, awesome level.  On the other hand, a lot of film buffs believe that CGI tears the soul right out of a film and deprives it of any true artistic merit. Either way, there are a few films out there that would've been much better if they gave their computers a little time off.

7. Godzilla

Source: Centropolis Entertainment/TriStar Pictures

There are not a lot of things that could've saved the 1998 American version of Godzilla from trainwrecking. Mixing a clichéd, all-star cast with summer blockbuster director Roland Emmerich was an instant recipe for disaster. When being advertised, the “new and improved” Godzilla was nowhere to be found. All they would show us on posters was either a giant lizard-like foot in the middle of New York City or a huge fiery eyeball. It was instantly obvious that the studio wanted us all to pay for our ticket before we got to feast our eyes on the new face the legendary Japanese monster. I guess this was a brilliant move cause the film went on to gross ever $379 million worldwide. Now we all know it was a pile of whale vomit, but what was the true reason behind all of the hate on Godzilla? Answer: CGI Godzilla.

In my opinion, this movie could've been instantly saved if they would have at least tried to stay close to the original roots of the franchise and threw most of the Independence Day-style CG out the freakin’ window. I understand updating things with technology is the main reason why people get excited about a remake, but turning the entire look of the classic creature into a more lifelike lizard was just the wrong way to go. Stay true to the roots! Giving Zilla a little personality is one thing, but besides his classic battle cry, the 1998 Godzilla was nothing even remotely close to the creature that made the franchise popular in the first place.


6. The Mummy Returns

Source: Universal Pictures/Alphaville Films

When I first went to go see this movie I was honestly wrapped up in all the hype that The Rock was gonna be the next Schwarzenegger and The Mummy Returns was going to be Conan-like role that was gonna blast him into superstardom. This was yet another highly-anticipated sequel that dropped the ball when it came to giving audiences what they expected. Instead of having raw, barbaric action like the first Conan, they gave us slapstick computer-generated images that would even make my Nana laugh. It did put The Rock on the map in Hollywood, but it wasn't anywhere near Schwarzenegger-like material. The Scorpion King scenes near the end of the film ruined everything. How in the hell can you let one of the main characters be CG’d in such horrible fashion?


5. X-Men Origins: Wolverine

Source: 20th Century Fox/Marvel Entertainment

For a film released in 2009, X-Men Origins: Wolverine has some of the worst CGI effects I've ever seen. The helicopter chase scene in particular was so utterly over the top I can’t even begin to explain it. I know audiences want a legit eyeball buffet when they go to the cinema, but it really seemed that the makers of this movie relied too heavily on trying to give us some of the most unrealistic action images ever created.

The story of how Wolverine came to be is enough to keep audiences captivated for two hours. They also had a great cast starring one of the last true action stars. Don’t hate, y’all, Hugh Jackman rules. Also, call me crazy, but’s portrayal as John Wraith was actually one of the real highlights of the film. His chemistry with Jackman was great and this alone could have made the movie that much better if they didn’t hit us in the face with another ridiculous green-screened action sequence every two seconds. The only remotely fun scene with CGI is when Deadpool cuts the room to bits with his bullet-slicing skills.  


4. Spider-Man 3

Source: Marvel Entertainment/Columbia Pictures

I have a friend who is really good friends with one of the stars of this film and I vividly remember them saying that they “called it in” when making the third live-action Spider-Man. After seeing the film a few days later I completely understood what that meant.

Look, Sam Raimi is hands down one of the most creative and gifted directors around and you really can’t blame him for dropping the ball and using an endless string of visual effects to mend the gaping holes in SM3. To me, the biggest flaw of the film is that there are far too many things going on story-wise. The film gives us three bad guys, drama with Mary Jane, Harry beefin’ with Peter P, and two freakin’ Spider-Mans. This stacked card gave viewers a very wide range of amazing special effects to feast on. Again, the CGI in the film was stellar. The Sandman scenes in particular were a thrill for any vintage Spidey fan. Although, on the flipside, all of this visual madness led the film to lack the true heart and soul of the first two films. CGI made this movie fail because the makers simply depended on it much too much.

BTW, I always felt that Topher Grace would have been better as Carnage. Just a thought, dudes.



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3. I Am Legend

Source: Village Roadshow Pictures/Warner Bros. Pictures

I actually thought that Will Smith was amazing in I Am Legend. It’s no easy task to lead a film Cast Away-style all by your lonesome. This is why the questionable special effects pissed me off so much and why this movie would have been soooo much better if they just hired Rob Bottin or Rick Baker to do some legit make-up and special effects work.

The humanoid zombies in I Am Legend were simply horrendous as well as straight up laughable. Older films with less technical tools can get away with having crappy effects because they could only really work with what they had. I Am Legend on the other hand had a $150 million budget and still couldn’t pull it off.  Using CGI effects to make a post-apocalyptic New York City is one thing, but using it to poorly create the Alpha Zombie is just plain wrong.

Will Smith does all his hard work in the film for nothing. The villain has no soul and zero charisma. All they needed to do was get a great actor like Gary Oldman in some Rick Baker makeup and things would've been all good in the hood. Instead, the director thought it would be neater for Will to battle a hollow computer-generated mess.


2. Ang Lee's Hulk

Source: Universal/Marvel Entertainment/Good Machine

Where to start?? How about with a CG Hulk prancing around the desert in purple shorts?

Films like Hulk seem to rely on keeping all images of their main character under wraps until moviegoers purchase their tickets at the theatre. A movie like this can be marketed basically on the fact that they know that fans of the series just want to see Bruce Banner Hulk out and destroy some s***. That said, the 2003 live-action version of Hulk was as bad as people make it out to be.

The comic book-like editing is any geek's dream, but the weak CG Hulk deflated things instantly. The fight sequences with the army seemed to go on forever and each sequence was more mind-numbing than the next.  I know we all want to see Hulk smash, but like many action films, it overdosed.


1. The Matrix Reloaded/The Matrix Revolutions

Source: Village Roadshow Pictures/Warner Bros.

When released, the first Matrix seemed to have the perfect mix of jaw-dropping CGI and a legit storyline that kept you hooked from beginning to end. But when it comes to the sequels, it's a different story.

The Matrix Reloaded and The Matrix Revolutions are two of the best examples of what not to do when trying to follow up a successful first film. Why? Well, because the Wachowski brothers seemed to pour all their time into eye-popping stunts, fight scenes, and special effects instead of focusing a little more on the story that made the film a box office smash in the first place. I’m not saying that as hungry moviegoers we didn’t want some serious optical junk food when going to the theatre, but endless fight scenes like the one Neo has with a million Agent Smiths got stupid after the second minute.

The movies themselves weren’t all that horrible in the end (they gave a lot of people what they were asking for), but if the filmmakers would've spent a tad bit more time using some of the basic foundations of filmmaking instead of relying on a computer during post-production, things would've turned out much better for us all.


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