While theater audiences reacquaint themselves with the characters of Disney’s The Jungle Book, in the new CGI-laden remake from Jon Favreau, the use of computer generated imagery has become a topic of conversation once again. Ever since CGI appeared in the film industry, it has been a lightning rod for criticism, both positive and negative.
There are few, if any, human CGI characters that have been celebrated, likely due to an aesthetic theory known as Uncanny Valley. UV hypothesizes that when robots or CGI characters approach the true likeness of humans, there is a drop-off point, and then observers become repulsed or simply creeped-out by the almost-but-not-quite-human characteristics. However, CGI does allow film creators to portray that which doesn’t exist in a far more realistic manner, often with captivating precision.
There’s always been some resistance to CGI. In fact, in 1982, TRON was ineligible from receiving an Academy Award Nomination because it was believed that using computers was essentially cheating. Even today, there is a very thin line between great CGI and awful CGI. With unconvincing imagery, not only will a film risk ridicule in its current age, but it’s shelf-life will be terribly short as well. Bad CGI is hilariously cringe-worthy, but bad CGI that is dated is something altogether different.
Despite all of the goofy examples of bad CGI, there have been moments of sheer brilliance as well, with computer-aided films and characters that still work today, in some cases, decades after they debuted. Here’s a list of the 15 best CGI movie characters of all time.
15 Wall-E – Wall-E
14 Godzilla – Godzilla
13 Draco - Dragonheart
12 T-1000 – Terminator 2
11 Transformers & Decepticons – Transformers
10 Shrek – Shrek
9 Smaug – The Hobbit
8 Caesar – Planet of the Apes
7 The Hulk – The Avengers
6 Neytiri – Avatar
5 Davy Jones – Pirates of the Caribbean
4 T-Rex – Jurassic Park
3 King Kong – King Kong
2 Woody and Buzz – Toy Story
1 Gollum – The Lord of the Rings
No surprise really that Gollum from The Lord of the Rings trilogy is number one on this list. Quite possibly the most beloved villain in one of the largest and most successful film franchises of all time, Gollum is without a doubt the best CG character ever designed. The success of Gollum is a combination of amazingly lifelike CG work from Weta Digital and the unbelievable performance of the multi-talented Andy Serkis. Using motion-capture, the movements and facial expressions of Serkis were able to be transplanted onto Gollum to create one of the most realistic and creepy characters ever seen on screen.
Sources: IMDB.com, Wikipedia.com
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