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Wednesday, January 11, 2006

Sophisticated special effects with unsophisticated thinking

It’s one of the so many ironies around us. The most sophisticated movie special-effects walk hand-in-hand with the most unsophisticated themes and plots. Think of movies like Independence Day, Anaconda, Mummy, Cobra – and you know what I am talking of. Even such hyped directors like Peter Jackson fail to think a little deeper when it comes to special effects. Take the “Lord of the Rings” series- most of the characters are non-human and speak with a bloated mechanical non-human special effect enhanced voice. All that is fine, but I find it very difficult to follow what they are saying given their distorted voice effects. And here’s my issue with Peter Jackson- if I can be gullible enough to be OK with the possibility of trees, smeagols and other fantasy characters speaking the human language, I should be also OK if they were speaking like normal humans without those distorted voices. Think, Mr. Jackson, Think!!!

Or take King Kong for example, why have human actors at all when the lead character of King Kong looks so very computer generated? If everything else was animated, the movie would have perhaps looked more realistic.

Special effects experts also run out ideas so quickly- the same car chase themes, air craft fights, the same looking aliens. Take any new alien invasion movie- they would invariably destroy the White House, The Capitol, and the Pyramids. Why destroy these buildings when they have already been destroyed by aliens who appeared on screen before them? The aliens are also always of the same character – either the most vile, or the dumbest of all – as in E.T. and Jadoo. What about aliens who are hot – a race of champion seductresses, invading earth to take away all the males?

Or take the genetically modified animals – always the same lot- crocodiles, snakes, spiders, bats. Why not the goats, hens, or slugs? Or again, genetically modified hot humans- males or females- a race with enhanced sexual organs rather than enhanced tentacles and fangs.

Special effects movies are also so very feudal in nature. These movies are always about one to at most four people saving the world. And you can see this feudal thinking in all popular special effects movies- Jurassic Park, Anaconda etc. “Independence day” took this feudal thinking to its height when the movie showed the US president as the prime destroyer of alien space-ships.

Either the special effects experts lack imagination or they are doing their best to make something out of thin movie plots. All the same, I am done with them.

2 comments:

Indianpad said...

I don't agree :) In most of these movies the special effects are getting so good that you are totally engrossed in the movie and even forget that the characters are CGI. Most of these stories (LOTR, King Kong, Harry Potter) require such characters so I am totally cool with great CGI rather than a lame mask. Hopefully, Narnia will change your mind...

Dhiman said...

Sometimes special effects are indispensable. Suggest how can one convey the concept of Matrix I (e.g., Godel's Theorem) to common people. I think Peter Jackson did awesome job specially in LOR part III, in expressing his imagination (ignore trees talking stuffs). Try to appreciate the efforts spend in capturing details. In doing Monster Incorporation, Pixar had to hire experts in vision and graphics to simulate one million hair or so on the monster's body. Furthermore, its not easy to demonstrate clothes folding, and generate appropriate shades. That day is not a distant dream when we won't need actors or actresses to make a movie.