I miss the 80s: before everything was rendered in CGI and actors didn’t have to appear perfect

August 6, 2013 § Leave a comment

jack-in-american-werewolf-in-london

“Have you seen the CGI in An American Werewolf in Paris? Hilarious!
At least the beast who got me was actually there”

First of all, let me just say that I am not slating CGI – in certain contexts it can be brilliant.  It works best, in my opinion, when it is used more subtly, for example, in films like Fight Club, Interview with the Vampire, Inception.  There are films which have successfully and brilliantly used CGI to create the impossible – Jurassic Park for one – although it did feature a combination of CGI and animatronics – and a great story.

What I’m fed up with, though, is the increasing reliance on having every element of a film computer generated, in place of a built set or make-up.  I watched the recent showings of the Star Wars saga on ITV2 (it’s been a while since I’ve seen them) and I couldn’t believe how much the latest films – Episodes I-III – have dated, purely due to the fact that virtually every element of the sets and each scene are CGI.  The original, and best, Episodes IV-VI, with their model ships, travelling matte backgrounds, motion control, puppets and real sets etc. still look FANTASTIC (except for the CGI elements that were added later for the Special Edition releases).

Kudos to directors like Christopher Nolan, who likes to film as much as he can get away with in live action and favours location shooting and real sets.  Ridley Scott also built huge sets for Prometheus, in a similar vein to AlienMoons director, Duncan Jones, also used excellent model work for his movie, proving that lower budget sci-fi films often have an element of problem-solving required for the special effects which, more often than not, turn out much better than the CGI option.

I also mourn for the days when actors didn’t have to be perma-tanned, hair extensioned plastic, with teeth so white that looking at them for too long could damage your retinas.  People looked better back then.  They were still beautiful – look at Sean Young in Blade Runner.  Yes, I know, there was still make-up and wigs and expert lighting and Vaseline smeared on the camera lens, and I’m sure that people did get surgery and veneers then, too, but it was all much more subtle.  Although they were still gorgeous movie stars it all seemed, somehow, more attainable; identifiable.   Everything, and everybody, these days seems so…illusory.

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