Movies are captivating and wonderful. They have been transporting audiences away from the mundane drudge of every day life and into numerous, complex, brilliant worlds for over 100 years. From the days of the Lumiere Brothers terrifying French viewers by filming a train pulling in at a station head on, through sets more and more sophisticated and elaborate throughout the Silent Film era and as soon as sound and color were pioneered, this delivered average Joes and Janes from the boring daily grind as Technicolor worlds like ancient Sherwood Forest and Oz whisked imaginations into a frenzy.
In those days the implementation of the fantastical to become captured for the ages and wonder of us relied on exhaustive theater style backdrops and Biblical epics relied on vast amounts of extras. From this point forward came special effect, most notably the work of legendary Ray Harryhausen. His clay models began to allow mythical, fictional beasts from imagination and the page onto the silver screen. This, alongside model sets and objects threw even further fuel into imaginations. Though Harryhausen’s innovations were painstakingly grueling. His clay models had to be fashioned into each individual movement, a practice that reduced the trademark jerking motion emblematic of stop motion photography. CGI has now taken the mantle from the old guard of models and even extras! The hours of shaping clay has been swapped with an editors chair and fastidious rendering and touch ups. However, along the ages of cinematic endeavor, there have been a myriad of dreadful attempts to capture the miracle of the imagination. Some ghastly varieties and examples have marred the celluloid of film… this is not a horror movie, but read on IF YOU DARE!!
10. The Mummy Returns
An antagonist with a dreadful sting in its tail, surely? Um, hardly! The Mummy Returns was a highly anticipated sequel to the Egyptian supernatural adventure, starring Brendan Fraser and Rachel Weisz, released in 2001. A follow up of 1997’s epic The Mummy, the sequel was also the first major Hollywood role for WWE legend Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson. He nudged his People’s Elbow into the cinematic world as a scorpion monster, yet the $98 million budget involved one hell of a Rock Bottom in terms of CGI!
Johnson’s role was The Scorpion King, an ancient warlord whose dominion of an ancient device would unleash all manner of chaos on earth. His final battle with the film’s hero, Rick O’Connell, and his nemesis, the ancient Sorcerer/Priest Imhotep, could have heralded an epic nail biting triple threat match worthy of the greatest Wrestlemania annals. Instead, fans got treated to a bizarre and boring wrestler/scorpion hybrid that O’Connell had to fend off with a golden spear! Did The Rock smell the crap effects cooking? Not likely!
9. Total Recall
Is there life on Mars? Yes, indeed there is, if you count trite action movie shenanigans on a sub-par colony that is! Now over 25-years-old, a plethora of effects and $65 million earned the movie an Academy Award for Special Effects… yes, really! However, it ranks up there with stinking effects. Plasticine face masks and overacting swelling of the faces at the mercy of the Martian atmosphere was clearly sufficient enough to earn the movie the biggest gong of them all! Yet with brutal scenes and the stiff acting from violent flick fave Arnold Schwarzenegger, more rigid than the Oscar statuette itself, it remains a film none would forget and even was treated to a poor remake starring Colin Farrell.
In 2004 a live-action remake of the famous cartoon cat was produced. One may have thought that perhaps the producers would have gone so far as to try and train a ginger puss to take the helm in the role, but of course that would be too difficult, it’s not like that hasn’t been done (ahem, Homeward Bound) or place an animated character amid a live action cast (ahem, Who Framed Roger Rabbit, Space Jam). Although why bother with such tactics when one can employ an oddly poor example of computer graphics. The fat cat was dreadfully seen interacting with it’s real life counterparts and rather than appear cute and cuddly, instead it seemed rather sinister and cold and altogether just, well, ‘fake.’
7. The Fugitive
The cinema remake of the classic 60s TV series was a runaway success (pardon the pun), making nearly ten times the $44 million spent in production. To be fair, the movie did contain some stunning effects, including a million dollar scene where a train and bus collide, a mammoth feat involving 13 cameras and one take, of which a trio of cameras never survived! Let’s spare a moment for the expensive movie equipment… perhaps it was the grim fate of the cameras that resulted in a poor choice involving superstar Harrison Ford’s leap from a dam? Just set up a really distant shot and hurl a life sized doll into the furious churning water… that’s one way to ‘escape’ the dilemma!
6. Escape from L.A.
Green screen has the potential to be Russian Roulette in terms of cinema and special effects. If it is perfected, then you have a realistic backdrop. However, mess it up just a tad and all the world can see how obvious the actor is pretending to do something, Escape from L.A. exemplifies the latter! Sequel to the dystopian thriller Escape from New York, where the hero, Snake, must rescue the President’s daughter or be executed. Many of John Carpenter’s film have been hit and miss and the man famous for giving the world the Halloween movie franchise certainly dropped the ball with this cringe worthy green screen fail! Kurt Russell’s pretense at surfing is epic, but for all the wrong reasons! Because it takes no more than a second to spot the terrible acting of a man seeming to pass as the best surfer ever, but no. it’s just a badly created piece of green screen with Mr. Goldie Hawn standing on a fake surfboard.
5. Superman IV: The Quest for Peace
Christopher Reeve made his big screen debut in 1978 as Superman more than a quarter of a century after the similar surnamed George Reeves starred as DC comics’ Man of Steel. The blockbuster with Margot Kidder as Lois Lane spawned 3 sequels and in 1987 the Quest for Peace depicts a battle between Superman and his enemy Nuclear Man. The fight took place on the surface of the moon and a dramatic battle and conflict took place between them throughout space and was set to be a nail biting duel. Yet this fell as flat as a piece of Kryptonite being hurled at Superman flying by. Much less for the fact that viewers can obviously spot the flailing black cape of the set backdrop supposed to be outer space in the background. This was the real Supervillain of the movie, the Mighty Space Cape of Space! And no, there is no flying around the planet at super speeds to make it reverse in order to erase this faux pas!
4. Die Another Day
This was the last Bond role for the fifth James Bond actor and incarnation, Pierce Brosnan. Bad title track by Madonna aside, this Bond film was full of the odd clanger in regards to dodgy CGI. Chief among these fails is when the British Secret Agent rides a parachute and canoe down a melting ice cap. An ice cap that is dreadfully unbalanced as a backdrop and the obvious green screening of the water beneath the canoe, not to mention the fake sheet of ice behind him. All of this could leave the discerning movie goer shaken, not stirred by the movie content. Maybe this was enough to give the license to kill the Pierce Brosnan invocation and replace him with Daniel Craig? I suppose not, anyway, this scene gets a 007 (or 0.07) for effort!
3. Star Trek
In 1979, the highly successful and legendary TV series Star Trek that began it’s voyage into the stars in 1966, went into Warp Drive onto the big screen. The sequel to the motion picture, The Wrath of Khan (released in 1982) is widely considered to be superior to the first and has the heartbreaking twist of Spock dying at the end (it’s been 34 years, containing this spoiler shouldn’t be too much of a shocker by now!) Yet the “economic” use of a space station shows up as one hell of an awkward moment in the movie. A glimpse or two of a space station drifting through the cosmos may appear to be somewhat innocent, yet the discerning Star Trek geek immediately witnesses that the station in question has just been rotated. What a Herculean task in movie special effects that is!
2. Mega Shark vs. Giant Octopus
That’s right! A movie out there with such a monumental title actually exists! Of course the movie does precisely what the movie says, a giant shark and an octopus going at it in a fight (for what reason? Who knows!) Instinct whispers no doubt that this film is going to be a stinker in terms of special effects, possibly as ludicrous and probably more so than the title and premise of the movie itself. So when a scene involves the giant shark leaping as high an altitude as an airplane, this is obviously more crap than scary! Not only has the shark got a mighty jump (maybe it has flea DNA?), the beast ostensibly has a yen for steel airborne mass transport objects and was feeling a little puckish. “Holy s***!” A passenger cries, as much from incredulity that this is a movie as from the ridiculous abilities that this Mega Shark possesses!
Here’s a big budget movie straight out of the Batman DC universe and hailed by many as one of the worst movies ever made. It was arguably a movie that attempted to cash in on Halle Berry’s Oscar winning turn in Monster’s Ball… by dragging her career down the toilet! Produced for around $100 million, the movie actually made a loss, which is a dreadful blow for a big budget CGI movie, starring an Oscar winning leading lady! Yet the CGI in question was unbearably and stupidly bad, the leading lady in question was in fact animated for the majority of the movie and it was glaringly obvious too! These faux pas included a CGI spiders, cats and even a seagull with a grudge against the terrible film! As jerky and crap as Halle Berry’s movements were, it was only matched by the story itself, so this film really didn’t have nine lives!