The 10 Worst CGI Moments Ever
CGI can be great, right? All you have to do is stick on Jurassic Park or The Lord Of The Rings to see it at its finest; transporting us to another world, these effects can make a film look and feel utterly tangible. But, on the other hand, CGI can also be a tool employed by the Devil to steal the souls of weak-minded movie makers. George Lucas, for example, but he has enough bad press at the moment; I’m not known for kicking a man while he’s down, after all. Instead, I’ve taken the time to look deep into our cinema archives and pull out the 10 worst CGI moments that actually made us doubt our own sanity. The ones that made us laugh when we were supposed to gasp. The ones that made us want to grab the nearest fork and plunge it straight into our welcoming eyes…
#10 – The Troll
Harry Potter And The Philosopher’s Stone
I hate to rip on my favourite of the Harry Potter movies but, looking back, how insanely terrible is the CGI in this particular clip? Focus on the troll. Doesn’t he look like he clambered out of a bad Playstation 1 game and lumbered onto the film set uninvited? He doesn’t connect very well with his surroundings, he moves with about as much dexterity as a brick and let’s not even talk about what happens when Daniel Radcliffe perches on his shoulders. It’s strange; at the time, this seemed like an utterly plausible Hogwarts moment. Now, looking back, I pity my younger self for being so easily duped. That troll? Not really there. Those kids? Not really acting. This film? Somehow still amazing, thus proving that magic really does exist.
#9 – The Scorpion King
The Mummy Returns
Rick (Brendan Fraser) and his arch-nemesis, High Priest Imhotep (Arnold Vosloo) are locked in a battle to the death. Rick’s got nothing to lose, as he believes his beautiful wife (Rachel Weisz) is dead, so he throws himself into this battle with no care for his own safety. It’s gripping stuff… especially as we know that the dreaded Scorpion King has been raised from the dead. Suddenly, the door opens and the two men turn, eyes wide, to face this new terror. Except Dwayne Johnson’s head badly morphed onto the body of a scorpion isn’t exactly terrifying, is it? Terrifyingly bad CGI maybe, but not something to make you fear for your mortal soul. Dwayne, the predatory arthropod, moves clumsily and slowly, swiping ineffectively at the air with his grasping claws and, generally, making a bit of a tit of himself. Unsurprisingly, he’s quickly defeated.
#8 – The Tsunami Surfing
Die Another Day
Scouting For Girls wished they were James Bond, just for the day. They obviously hadn’t seen this clip from Die Another Day. What the hell is 007 doing anyway? Escaping a man-made tidal wave, that’s what. How? A kite, a surfboard and some extraordinarily bad special effects. Look at Brosnan’s little disgruntled face – even he knows this is a stupid action sequence. Brilliant, but stupid. Did you watch this scene and enjoy it? Go and rent Indiana Jones And The Crystal Skull then, as I think it’ll be right up your alley…
#7 – The Temple of Zuul
Ghostbusters is, without a doubt, one of the greatest films of the 80s. First up, it boasts a stellar cast, led by Bill Murray, Harold Ramis and Dan Aykroyd. Second, it has a fantastic script, full of the witticisms and put-downs us lesser mortals wish we had to hand when confronted with an asshole in everyday life; “someone with your qualifications would have no trouble finding a top-flight job in either the food service or housekeeping industries.” Genius. And yet, there’s the little niggle in the back of my mind that, through blinding us with the immensity of the rest of the film, the Ghostbusters special effects team have really done a number on us. Take a look at that scene above; the tension builds, Sigourney Weaver moves tremulously towards the fridge, pulls it slowly open and… oh. Oh, there’s just a bit of swirly smoke, a pyramid and, quite possibly, the least terrifying bear-pig-dog thing that I’ve ever seen. It’s nothing a bit of de-icing wouldn’t sort out. Oh yeah, they’ve really done a number on us…
#6 – The Sharks
Deep Blue Sea
Nobody likes Deep Blue Sea, because it’s a stupid movie. Clearly, the writers got stoned on some bad hash one night, watched Jaws and figured, hey, that’s a cool concept. Let’s do that EXACT same storyline, but with lots of sharks. And, er, let’s give them super-intelligence. And the ability to plot and plan and, weirdly, swim backwards. The final result is not brilliant. In fact, the best thing in the entire movie is Samuel L Jackson, which is why I was very happy when he began his passionate speech. Look into his eyes; you can really feel the emotion ebbing from his very soul. In fact, I thought, maybe this movie isn’t so ba… and then he gets killed. Not just killed, however, as he’s snapped up and shaken like a rat by the sort of CGI shark that wouldn’t have made the cut on Finding Nemo. It’s completely ridiculous.
#5 – The Snakes
Snakes On A Plane
The concept was simple enough; take the two things people fear most in the world and throw them together for a nailbiting thriller movie. Instead, we got Snakes On A Plane. Before we get into the CGI, the plot; doesn’t this seem like an extraordinary amount of effort on an assassin’s behalf? Rather than popping some poison in the peanuts, or having someone tinker with the engine, he’s gone for the less obvious ‘release hundreds of different species of snake mid-flight and bite and kill everybody’ option. And, next up, have you SEEN these snakes? I sometimes wonder if, after shooting the whole movie, the director suddenly turned aghast to his producer and went, “we forgot to put any mother-fuckin’ snakes on the mother-fuckin’ plane!” and had to quickly edit some in at the last second. Look at that guy’s face when the trouser-snake metaphor goes down and try to take this movie seriously. Just try…
#4 – The Penis Scene
This film seems to follow the standard formula of good looking people in swimwear being attacked underwater by an unstoppable force. Unfortunately, the unstoppable force of choice is a bunch of piranhas. In 3D. Which means that, when one of these little toothy monsters rips of a Jerry O’Connell’s penis and regurgitates it, we get to see that in three horrifyingly realistic dimensions. Obviously these fish are the spit not swallow kind, which makes for vom-worthy viewing. God, watch it again. If possible, it looks even worse the second time around…
#3 The Plane Scene
Mega Shark vs. Giant Octopus
Oh yes, you really DID just see an enormous shark take down a plane mid-flight. How realistic. There are literally no words to explain why this happened, so I’m just going to suggest that maybe people should stop trying to make shark movies, full stop. Ever. The plane looks shit too.
#2 – Sharktopus
Meet Sharktopus, the genetically-engineered result of a somewhat misguided scientific/military experiment to create the perfect water-based killing machine. Thanks to his tentacles, he can climb out of the water and stab people… wait, what? That’s not what octopi use their tentacles for, is it? Never mind. Regardless of the innumerable factual errors, we still have something so utterly baffling that it literally hurts my brain. How about the fact that the hybrid critter changes size throughout, going from the size of a VW Bug to mere human sized. The only thing worse than the continuity and effects was the god-awful acting. Damn you Sharktopus!
#1 – The ENTIRE Movie
What could possibly beat Sharktopus to the top slot? Birdemic, that’s what. Forget CGI birds, these are badly drawn GIF images with their own personal brand of squawking terror to unleash. Did you know that birds explode when they dive-bomb buildings? I’ll just bet you didn’t! Did you know that they can produce enough vomit-venom to rival Linda Blair in The Exorcist? Nope, me neither. I just… I just don’t want to do this anymore. Everytime I watch the clip I end up with my head in my hands, quietly sobbing. The guy who made this genuinely thinks it’s good. He genuinely thinks that it’s good for a first attempt. That’s like saying “hey, you crashed your car into a children’s hospital and over 250 people died? It’s fine. It’s your first driving lesson, don’t even give it a second thought.” The conclusion? As they say on set, ‘birds aren’t the dangerous animal… humans are.’ Especially humans with unlimited GIF birds to hand.