Why do people rave about bad special effects?

I’m thinking of the clips I’ve seen of Spider-Man. If a 50s movies had done effects that bad, you’d be hearing complaints for years. Willis O’Brien is probably turning in his grave.

All the shots are flashy and colorful, but completely unbelieveable. The characters don’t move in a realistic manner – they jerk from spot to spot, first too slow, then too fast. There is not the slightest attempt to make them look like a real person.

Considering the worst criticism you can make these days about a film is “it’s not realistic,” why do people not only accept unrealistic special effects, but end up raving about how great they are?

From what I’ve seen, most people aren’t raving about the effects. In fact, I think the movie succeeded despite the poor CGI.

FWIW, Ebert gave the movie a thumbs down mostly for that very reason. I haven’t seen it, but looking at the trailers, I have the same complaint. The first AOTC trailer that was shown on TV awhile back suffered from a similar cartoony look. The more recent commercials that I’ve seen on Fox seem to be improved though.

I haven’t seen “Spiderman,” so I won’t comment on how good/bad its special effects are, but I DO fully agree that CGI effects usually leave me cold.

In many instances, the old Ray Harryhausen-style stop-motion effects were far more convincing than the high tech stuff we see regularly, now.

It’s usually very obvious when CGI effects are used, and while these may make for great video game graphics, CGI people very rarely look lifelike and CGI stunts rarely look realistic on the big screen.

Technology is improving all the time, and future ventures may be better. But to date, Hollywood CGI has proven a major disappointment.

Could you explain how it could possibly look real. In reality it would not be possible to do the things Spiderman does. Even if you gave the ability to shoot webs the idea that he would be able to swing from building to building, sometimes changing directions mid flight, is ridiculous. So IMHO it could never ‘look real’.

CGI is just part of the problem. What burns me up is (in the words of an off-screen character in Close Encounters) non-ballistic motion. If I hit something or someone hard enough to knock them through the air, they are going to travel in some sort of arc. Think Brad Pitt’s character in the big fight scene toward the end of Snatch. They will not, as I see increasingly in the movies, travel in a straight line until interrupted by a wall or similar obstruction. X-Men was particularly offensive on this point.

I think this problem started with The Matrix, with its ridiculous fight scenes.

And why in the world would you want it to look real, anyway? If you want “realistic” web slinging, go outside and jump off a bridge.

The comic wasn’t very convincing either. I could tell in a flash that it didn’t portray real people. I still enjoyed it.

Somehow it worked for me: the weird, contorted, jerky, movements were exactly the way I pictured Spidey and the Goblin moving when Ditko was drawing them.

Had this been, say…a Fantastic Four or Silver Surfer movie, Hell, if it’d been Doc Ock instead of the Goblin, I’d have been annoyed, but what would have been a flaw actually added to the experience for me because of the characters involved.


they would only travel in an arc if the direction of the force wasn vectored that way. perhaps if the wall wasnt there they would arc downward when their moment slowed. bullets travel pretty straight till they hit the target providing the target is close enough. draw yur arc and then close in on just a small piece of it and it gets straighter and straighter as yu get smaller and smaller pieces …plus i dont think the effects where “bad”…maybe not the “greatest”… this may be a subjective point tho… what would be “good” effects? 2001? bah… boring lol

I think the best use of CGI is when you can’t tell it’s CGI. IE in Gladiator, where they had the large shots of the Coliseum. The CGI wasn’t what captured the viewers’ attention. The people walking in the foreground was.

zebra, I rented the “Spider-Man: The Movie” video game and I hate to admit but spidey’s movement are better animated in the game than the movie. You can do everything spiderman can, including swinging through the streets of NYC (to change direction mid-air, you just cut your line at the height of your arc and attach another in a new direction, hence you begin swinging in that direction). However my problem was not entirely with the animation in the movie, I was also let down by the quality of the 3D models. Jar Jar is hellspawn but at least he resembles a flesh and blood creature. The CG shot of parker un-costumed learning to wall crawl was horrendous – it was slightly better than the cut scenes in the video game. The dinosaurs in Jurassic Park and the T-1000 in T2 were more believable. If I was Rami and I saw that shot, I would have said no way; if you can’t make it look like its real on the computer then do it on wires with a green screen. Plus this is a comic book adaptation, scifi/fantasy, summer blockbuster with a huge $130 million budget – if that’s not a venue for groundbreaking special effects thean I don’t know what is. And yes, spider-man is supposed to have outrageous, impossibly fast and nimble movements, but he’s the one that’s supposed to be jerky, not the camera.

I know the lead character animator at Sony who did most of the Spidey figure animation. The point he would make is this: please understand, he and his fx/animation crew are hired hands, who are asked to deliver a job of work to a producer and a director. They take a brief, they do what’s asked of them.

Now, some people want CGI animation to be ‘realistic’. That’s the ‘holy grail’ for them - is it ‘realistic’? Does it look like a real person walking and moving? And sometimes these people disagree between themselves on what looks ‘real’ and what doesn’t.

Other people take the view that there is little point using CGI to depict something realistic - the whole poiint is that you can use the tool to deliver something, creatively and artistically, which you couldn’t get any other way.

If the producers and exec producers and director don’t all share exactly the same ‘vision’ of what they want from the animation team, then the team get caught between a rock and a hard place because the brief keeps changing, often from day to day.

All of these issues are compounded by the fact that Spider-Man is about a super hero. He does things no ‘real’ person has done or could do. If you make the motion too ‘realistic’, you perhaps make him less of a superhero. If you make the motion too ‘super hero’ and ‘incredible’, then some will moan it’s not realistic enough.

A wise man said you can’t please all the people all the time. Even with a 100 million dollar budget.

I haven’t actually seen the movie, because I live in the pre-historic time warp known as England where it doesn’t open until June 14th. But I have seen sneaks from the animation tests and rushes the animation team developed for the director, and the motion looked pretty good to me.

I will assume that was a response to me, razer, and ask your forgiveness if not. I would not argue with the straight-line trajectories travelled by so many “falling” bodies if, like bullets, they were travelling extremely fast. But watch the train station scene in X-Men. I believe it is Sabertooth who gets blasted through the air. He travels at a rapid speed through the air but nowhere near rapid enough to compare his trajectory to that of a bullet.

Anyway, it seems that this thread has become entirely about CGI, so rather than keep hijacking it, I’ll just go back to being irked in silence. :slight_smile:

Well, if anyone cares, Stan Lee himself has said that the movie perfectly captures his Spider-man.

I’ve heard many people in the sfx industry say things to the effect of, the audience isn’t great at realizing why something looks fake, they just feel that it looks wrong. I think this goes back to the pattern matching shortcuts our brains use, but the bottom line is a lot of people think the effects in Spider-man were subpar and un-realistic. Granted, it was a comic book adaptation, but it was also a live action film, and the level of consistency that I expect for a live action movie just wasn’t there. Many spidey CG shots looked great, but a lot didn’t. Some were so bad, like the un-costumed parker wall crawl shot I mentioned, that they simply should not have made it into the final cut. Regardless of the animators, Rami or the producers should have stepped in and made the decision to reshoot or scrap bad material.

Please don’t get me wrong I didn’t hate this film, but I don’t think it’s unreasonable to expect near perfect effects in a special effects heavy movie. Star Wars, T2, Jurassic Park, LOTR and many other films have accomplished that feat so it’s obviously attainable.

Also, not to knock the incomparable Stan Lee, but he was an executive producer, so I don’t think it would be likely for him to talk down his own film, unless it was utter crap and he wanted to distance himself from it. Besides, how could he not enjoy seeing $130 million dollars in action to retell his own story?

ya i was responding to yu <b>KneadToKnow</b>… :slight_smile:

i was just trying to point out that its related to “force” not just speed and also that there would be an arc no matter what … but if yu could “extend” the trajectory of sabertooth past the wall would there be an arc? some pitchers in baseball throw balls that dont arc much at all… but if the catcher was put another 20feet back or so yu might see the arch. not hacking on yu tho knead, yur 2cents are just as valuable as mine lol

the main thing tho is realizm is sometimes not very interesting to watch, compared to artist 'emphisis" that these artists can come up with. i am willing to bet that ANY special effects cant be put in a light that makes it unrealistic…

That was CG? I had no idea.

But now they are using CGI to get away with shots that they could have done easily with bluescreens and wires, but are just being lazy. I’d prefer muppet aliens over some of the CGcrap they are trying to make us swallow (in fact, I’m a big fan of muppet aliens, Farscape’s muppets look much more realistic than Jar Jar. And the human actors look AT the aliens, not up to the right!)

Even if it’s “usually very obvious” when CGI is being used (which I don’t buy), it’s always obvious when stop-motion is being used. CGI is superior to stop-motion; it’s not even close.

I have to concur with Paully; CGI may not be perfect, and Harryhausen was a genius, but have you seen Jason and the Argonauts lately? It was amazing thirty years ago, but can’t compare to what’s being done with CGI.

And I really liked the effects in Spider-Man; it seemed to fit with the overall kinda-cheesy-but-not-too-cheesy feel of the film.