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Why Special Effects No Longer Impress 532

Posted by CmdrTaco
from the bored-now dept.
brumgrunt writes "When an advert for toilet roll now has a CG dog in it, have we come to the point where special effects have no lasting impact whatsoever? As Den of Geek argues, 'Where we once sat through Terminator 2 and gasped when Robert Patrick turned into a slippery blob of mercury, we now watch, say, Inception and simply acknowledge that, yes, the folding city looks quite realistic.'"
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Why Special Effects No Longer Impress

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  • Cars? (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday December 14, 2010 @04:35PM (#34551540)

    When was the last time you gasped at a car driving next to you? Yeah, people get used to technology.

    • by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday December 14, 2010 @04:39PM (#34551620)
      Hey, I'm from 1890, you insensitive clod! STOP

      FULL STOP
    • Re:Cars? (Score:5, Insightful)

      by FooAtWFU (699187) on Tuesday December 14, 2010 @04:51PM (#34551818) Homepage

      I posit that special effects are like other kinds of art, now. No one is really "amazed" that you can put together some oil paints and come up with a picture. However, Starry Night is still widely recognized as some mighty fine artwork. It's what you do with it.

      The folding city in Inception looked cool. No one was surprised that they could get it to look cool. For that you'll still need to look at things like Avatar et cetera. (Also very shiny, by the way. Total eye candy.)

      • This times 1000. We have the tools now, but very little worth putting them to use on.

        I wish people would stop saying that the VFX are ruining moves. We're a tool used by the director (or, more often, by the studio) if that Director (or again, the studio) fail to utilize us within the story properly, how is it the VFX that are ruining movies?

        • Re: Mod parent up (Score:5, Insightful)

          by vlm (69642) on Tuesday December 14, 2010 @05:32PM (#34552594)

          how is it the VFX that are ruining movies?

          Allocating all the funds towards "yet another explosion" instead of ... well virtually all other expenses.

          • Actually, production companies mostly allocate money to themselves. VFX companies have been dropping like bees lately from bankruptcy as clients demand more, better work faster and for less money.

          • Allocating all the funds towards "yet another explosion" instead of ... well virtually all other expenses.

            It doesn't cost any more to write a good screenplay.

            Actors are still a significant portion of the budget, more so than VFX in most features. And long gone are the days where directors have to shoot a film with a VFX supervisor sitting over their shoulder saying "Yeah that shot will be really hard, don't you want to do a lock off?" If anything the exact opposite is happening, directors are more and more just shooting regardless of everything being perfect and assume that the VFX will fix everything amiss.

        • Re: Mod parent up (Score:5, Interesting)

          by Chris Burke (6130) on Tuesday December 14, 2010 @06:50PM (#34553790) Homepage

          I wish people would stop saying that the VFX are ruining moves. We're a tool used by the director (or, more often, by the studio) if that Director (or again, the studio) fail to utilize us within the story properly, how is it the VFX that are ruining movies?

          In the same way vodka ruins Bob's personality. Of course it's actually Bob's problem, and vodka is just a neutral tool that can be used for bad or for awesome, but it would still miss part of the point to ignore the vodka's role in enabling Bob to start sucking. Before vodka came along, Bob was okay most of the time. Well, some of the time.

          Just to be clear, when we (or I) say "VFX are ruining movies", we are blaming it on the lack of creativity of Hollywood. It's just unfortunate yet true that the existence of affordable and good VFX allows that lack of creativity to flourish.

          There's a lot to be said for limitations and how it can make movies better.

          Look at Jaws, Spielberg's breakout movie. Think of how horrifying the opening scene is, when you never even see the shark as the woman is (you presume, under the water) being torn apart. How often that movie is positively compared to Hitchcock, the master of suspense. Yet that's not the movie Spielberg set out to make! Originally, it was going to be a crappy monster movie in the ocean with Jaws front and center the whole time literally chewing up the scenery. But because they couldn't get their giant hydraulic-powered animatronic shark to work in salt water (the ocean's just a big wavy lake, right?), he had to make adjustments and go for a much subtler, and ultimately more effective, style.

          Or the biggest example of something "ruined by VFX": Star Wars. Lucas luurved his effects even back then and Star Wars had the best around. But nevertheless, they couldn't afford to do endless lightsaber effects so we only had a few instances of them being used heavily in dramatically important moments, and so they were more awesome. He couldn't have a million jedi and robots and lasers to make them all stupid and boring. He had to have real locations and sets that looked real and that actors could interact with. He had to have character moments because he couldn't fill the entire movie with action sequences to make you forget that you didn't care about anyone on screen. Hell, maybe the only reason we didn't have a bouncing spinning light saber Yoda in Empire was because there was no way for him to do that on the end of Jim Henson's hand. Well, that and Lucas had little to do with that movie...

          Anyway.

          I know it's not the VFX studio's fault that so much VFX is used in place of actual good ideas and story and character. It would be completely ridiculous to blame you for doing your work better, faster, cheaper. But uh, that's exactly what enabled a lot of this crap. It would be completely ridiculous to say VFX companies shouldn't accept checks from the producers of crappy movies, but uh, that's exactly what you'll have to start doing if you don't want to hear "VFX are ruining movies" anymore.

          Hey, actually, I never thought to ask that... Do effects companies ever turn down work? Good actors will turn down work, because they don't want their name associated with some piece of crap. Maybe if only the directors with talent or just good ideas got to work with the best VFX, maybe something positive would happen. *shrug* I don't know.

          • This is an excellent comment with excellent points, thank you. With those well stated points I would have to agree, it works as an enabler.

          • by RJFerret (1279530)

            I did 3D years ago now, back when it was emerging, in a small shop.

            Yes, just like any other business, companies don't want their name associated with shoddy products that hurt their image and chance for future work. Or their principles disallow them to produce work for clients that promote products they deem harmful to their core business, such as children.

            However, as someone else points out below, you have to have the luxury of cash flow, and not be desperate to keep the doors open.

            Then there's also a sen

      • Yeah, in Inception what was more impressive was how they were able to make all these special effects believable. It wasn't a weak-sause plot that seemed to be an excuse for crazy special effects, it was just an amazing plot that wouldn't have been very manageable without them. Of course, now we can expect a bunch of weak-sause movies that will find any excuse to explore the dream world.

        • Re:Cars? (Score:5, Insightful)

          by theIsovist (1348209) on Tuesday December 14, 2010 @05:27PM (#34552490)
          I'd also argue that inception was impressive because several of the special effects rely on physical techniques. The spinning hallway really was spinning during filming, which might not seem that important, but it means that we have a real system in place for rules. Gravity is never lost during that shot, which often happens in pure CG special effects. everyone's movements happen as naturally as we'd expect them to in that situation. When you replace with CG, you're likely to forget to add small details that the audience will notice consciously or subconsciously, breaking the experience.
      • Realistic vs pretty (Score:4, Interesting)

        by Dan East (318230) on Tuesday December 14, 2010 @05:45PM (#34552818) Homepage Journal

        There are two levels to visual effects. One is what you see. The detail, the quality, the lighting, texturing, etc. In other words, how realistic it merely looks, which is more art than anything. The second is the physics and mechanics of whatever is being portrayed. That is where most movies screw it all up.

        Everyone keeps mentioning Avatar, but it's not just how pretty it looks, but the physics and mechanics are all at least superficially realistic. Machines are bulky and slow moving, animals are organic and subtle, etc.

        I'll name a few movies that totally screw up the special effects. Oh, they look nice, but the physics are so over the top that it destroys the movie.
        One is Van Helsing. Tons of potential in that movie, but they screwed up the mechanics of the effects horribly. One scene shows the heroine being carried up in the air by a winged vampire and dropped. She flops around like a rag doll in such a ridiculous way that it literally insulted the parts of my brain hardwired to process physics.
        Another is The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen. Again, wonderful visuals and attention to detail, but the part where buildings in Venice fell like dominoes, and the method they used to stop it was to fire a guided missile (in the year 1899) to knock down even more buildings? Jumped the shark right then and there.
        Transformers was yet another. Somehow the robot's mass and bulk would quadruple when converting from a vehicle into a robot. Just didn't feel right, although it was intricate and detailed.

        So I think that's why special effects typically don't impress, because they lack the engineering (in a literal sense!) required to underpin effects to at least a token level of realism.

        • One is Van Helsing. Tons of potential in that movie, but they screwed up the mechanics of the effects horribly.

          I think you're being generous. If Hugh Jackman's character had been using a whip, then this movie would be indistinguishable from an adaptation of Castlevania by Uwe Boll.

    • by sribe (304414)

      When was the last time you gasped at a car driving next to you? Yeah, people get used to technology.

      Night before last actually. Of course it wasn't so much the car itself, as it was the car's position and trajectory ;-)

  • Poor Michael Bay (Score:5, Insightful)

    by dominion (3153) on Tuesday December 14, 2010 @04:35PM (#34551546) Homepage

    Does this mean that directors actually have to focus instead on character development, plot, and pacing?

    • by maxwell demon (590494) on Tuesday December 14, 2010 @04:38PM (#34551608) Journal

      No, it means directors have to focus on 3D. That's still new enough.

      • by polar red (215081)

        That's still new enough.

        I think that will last no more than 6 months from now.

  • Good (Score:5, Funny)

    by Sarten-X (1102295) on Tuesday December 14, 2010 @04:36PM (#34551550) Homepage
    Now filmmakers will focus on compelling stories, complex characters, and complete worlds, right? Right? Please?
    • The bulk of movies made have never done that (face it, most of what makes it on theater screens is garbage), but it does mean that maybe a certain subset of directors who could be better if they didn't use CGI in an overbearing fashion may look to more realism and less to making what amounts to cartoons. Hopefully we'll see less trash like The Last Airbender or Transformers 2.

      • by mcgrew (92797) *

        face it, most of what makes it on theater screens is garbage

        It's been said that 90% of everything is crap. That includes MY crap too, unfortunately.

    • by mikael_j (106439)

      Please, no more character development for the sake of character development.

      I don't mind it when it makes sense but when it seems like any and all characters who have speaking parts in a movie have to have some kind of character development (or be bad guys who die horribly) it gets kind of tiring. In general the problem with a lot of movies is that when one thing becomes old and tired the producers/directors just seem to exaggerate the formulaic parts even more.

      Then there's the genre butchering which I susp

  • Some people here weren't even alive when Terminator 2 came out. Those people have lived their entire lives seeing flashy special effects in movies, therefore it is nothing special to them.

    If you want to impress people, then stop churning out cookie cutter sequels and start using some fresh stories that will keep people interested.
    • I'm sure the same applied to color film, to sound, and indeed, to films themselves. The technology of film advances, and each new innovation soon becomes a standard method of filmmaking. Lots of people were wowed by the "documentary" style of Hard Days Night, at the time it was a pretty new and unique kind of film, and so influential was it that now we don't really bat an eyelash, and someone watching it now would go "Meh, Christopher Guest does it better".

      The problem with special effects, and this has be

  • by 0123456 (636235) on Tuesday December 14, 2010 @04:37PM (#34551582)

    I don't just find CGI effects unimpressive, but fundamentally boring. They're good if they actually add to the story, but who cares if Keanu Reeves is fighting a raptor on top of a truck that's racing around the deck off a cruise liner that's going to explode if it goes below the speed of sound when it's all just created inside a computer? I could be impressed with effects in the pre-CG days when someone actually had to stand on top of a moving truck fighting a guy in a rubber dinoaur suit to achieve the same thing, but now, so what?

    • by TooMuchToDo (882796) on Tuesday December 14, 2010 @04:55PM (#34551898)

      "but who cares if Keanu Reeves is fighting a raptor on top of a truck that's racing around the deck off a cruise liner that's going to explode if it goes below the speed of sound"

      Sir, I do think I'd pay to see that.

    • Creating the VFX of Keanu fighting a raptor on top of a truck that's racing around the deck off a cruise liner that's going to explode if it goes below the speed of sound isn't just pressing a render button on a computer? Just because the tools of the trade have advanced to the point where we're finally creating very impressive but invisible effects, that doesn't make the job any easier.

      I guess if no one is in physical danger of death (unless you count working 12-16 hour days 7 days a week for 3-6 months in

    • by MBCook (132727) <foobarsoft@foobarsoft.com> on Tuesday December 14, 2010 @04:58PM (#34551938) Homepage

      I've been modding in this thread, but forget it. I want to post on this.

      This is my big problem. I recently saw Indiana Jones & The Crystal Skull. I knew it wasn't going to be very good, but I was still amazed at two parts of the movie.

      The first is when he was first being lead into the warehouse where all the artifacts are being stored. They have a show showing him walking in through the big doors, and in the background is a 20-30ft piles of boxes, made in CGI. Did you not have the budget in your $100m movie to buy boxes? Wait! You did. You piles of them 5 minutes later. I get you don't want to recreate the whole warehouse, but a single pile of boxes? It was pathetic.

      At the same time the 'crystal skull' in the movie not only does not look like the real crystal skull but in fact looks like someone balled up palstic wrap and then poured resin around it. You couldn't have a few pieces of high quality glass blown? You couldn't have used the CGI for the skulls?

      The CGI is applied in so many of the wrong places. The final scenes are very well done, as were the ants, but why keep spending the budget on making groundhogs look at Indy or troupes of monkeys playing Tarzan in a scene that TOTALLY breaks any suspension of disbelief.

      I'm used to CGI. It takes a ton to impress me. But a good motorcycle chase that isn't all CGI and blue-screen will go a lot farther because I can tell they actually did it.

      Heck, I suppose I'm lucky the quicksand in KotCS wasn't pure CGI. Stupid Lucas.

      • This is interesting isn't it; modern CGI looks completely fake! In a couple of decades, we'll look back on this stuff and cringe. In a couple more decades, there will be people will watch it purely for the cheese factor.

        • I just recently got the chance to watch T2 on bluray, I'm still amazed at the CGI in the film. I'm not certain if it's because it's comparatively "simple" effects or if it was just more tasteful use of the tool but it stands up a hell of a lot better than many more expensive/elaborate CG used in recent films. Some of the traditional FX appliances look like appliances but they did back then, too. OTOH, some are amazingly seamless, like the chest appliance for the bar scene.
          Is it waxing romantic or did the

  • that moving pictures in black and white with no sound were once considered impressive as well.
  • by eldavojohn (898314) * <eldavojohnNO@SPAMgmail.com> on Tuesday December 14, 2010 @04:38PM (#34551586) Journal

    "Where we once sat through Terminator 2 and gasped when Robert Patrick turned into a slippery blob of mercury, we now watch, say, Inception and simply acknowledge that, yes, the folding city looks quite realistic."

    Right and we also used to sit and stare in awe as a person used a phone from their car to make a phonecall. Now if a call is dropped we curse whatever carrier we have even though the sheer concept of what that signal is going through is borderline witchcraft. And so help me god if that signal drops to one bar. I act as if that communication capability is some inalienable right.

    Any technology developed for one generation can now be taken for granted almost instantly instead of taking several generations for gratitude to ebb. Seriously, you could build a machine that extends life indefinitely through five minutes of use each day and people will complain that one model tingles more than another. And if it stops working, they'll flock to the internet to complain that their life was shortened. And if their internet isn't working, some company just violated the Geneva Conventions.

    As computers (both general and special) become more powerful, you'll see this is in movies more and more. It's going to be like sound recording. Decent recording equipment is so cheap you can record a passable album in your basement. We expect decent CGI now that it's relatively cheap. Terminator 2 was the most expensive movie to make when it came out. Wouldn't be the same price today. I could sit here thinking of comparisons all day.

    I guess I would question the author with simply: "Where did you draw the line and why?" He talks about 30 years of special effects but, yeah, 30 years in any lucrative field or market would see some drastic progressive changes like this.

  • I'm still really impressed by the special effects that filmmakers managed in the 1950s. To do the same with the tools they had available would still be very impressive today.

  • by DreadPiratePizz (803402) on Tuesday December 14, 2010 @04:39PM (#34551626)
    Who remembers the Matrix? I recall gasps in the theatre as the camera rotated around trinity in midair. That shit was tight. What about Avatar? Tons of people were impressed with the world of pandora and the 3D effects. Special effects can definitely impress, but only if you keep them moving forward!
    • Clearly those people hadn't watched Wing Commander, which did the rotating perspective thing earlier that year without getting lost up its own ass about it.
  • Two words: Star Wars

    Seriously - Star Wars "Episode I" sucked so hard I never bothered to see the other two prequels - just looked up the story online later.

    • Re: (Score:2, Informative)

      by swanzilla (1458281)
      Three words: Han shot first
      • by Ogive17 (691899)
        Watched it on tv last week... still shake my head when I see the "editing" that makes it appear he tried to dodge the shot.
    • by D Ninja (825055)

      I never bothered to see the other two prequels - just looked up the story online later.

      Your search - star wars prequal story line - did not match any documents.

      Suggestions:

              - Make sure all words are spelled correctly.
              - Try different keywords.
              - Try more general keywords.
              - Try fewer keywords.

      • by AndrewNeo (979708)

        Did you mean: star wars prequel storyline

        • prequal: short for Pre Quality Assurance. Any item that has not been checked for defects and/or shortcomings. An unfinished product. A prototype, or beta version; not to be confused with the polished final version.
  • Go watch the Ong Bak trilogy where the stunts are all real. Or watch Alien where all the ships and systems looked like they could be from the future but were just parts of Vulcan bombers and other stuff lumped together. Human imagination is being made lazy by cheap fx.

    Hopefully we'll see a backlash against FX and see directors building some great sets and models again.

    If I recall Bill Hicks correctly, we'll soon be sending in the terminally ill as stuntmen to make death scenes more realistic. "Chuck
  • by gilesjuk (604902) <giles.jones@nOspam.zen.co.uk> on Tuesday December 14, 2010 @04:41PM (#34551658)

    My biggest problem is not the masses of CGI, it is the insistence of directors or photography directors that the camera has to fly around all over the place.

    I would much rather have nice composed shots, nice panning shots. I don't want millions of different angles and machine gun edits (lots of edits per second).

    So many films seem the same due to the above.

    • by andyr86 (1942246) on Tuesday December 14, 2010 @05:02PM (#34552020)
      The only really impressive technique in film making these days is the 'long take' where a whole scene is shot from end to end without a tone of edits. Hard Boiled has a great long take right at the end. Personally i think photography has gone down hill in the last decade, no one seems to care about colour, light and shade anymore. Why bother when you are going to screw it all up in post anyway.
  • Why would this be any different from any other aspect of modern technology, or anything else for that matter? People become accustomed to things. It's like when you had a PS car when you were younger, didn't mind it. Then, you moved up to something brand new and loved it until you became used to it. Now, if you were to go back to that same old PS car you would not believe you ever were able to tolerate that jalopy. It's human nature.
  • I saw the folding city in Inception and thought "Holy fuck, that is cool". I guess I must have been the only one then?

    There will always be room for movies focused around spectacles and eye candy because of visceral thrill... Perhaps the article writer has lost his ability to suspend his disbelief, but I was loving every second of the sfx (actors floating) and vfx (folding buildings) of Inception.

    • I saw the folding city in Inception and thought "Holy fuck, that is cool". I guess I must have been the only one then?

      There will always be room for movies focused around spectacles and eye candy because of visceral thrill... Perhaps the article writer has lost his ability to suspend his disbelief, but I was loving every second of the sfx (actors floating) and vfx (folding buildings) of Inception.

      Oh, hell no, you aren't the only one. I felt the exact same way. I felt the sfx were absolutely amazing -- hell, I mentioned this to a friend just two nights ago now; I said that the sfx in Inception were even more awesome because they weren't "flashy" and in your face. But most importantly, the story was engaging and, IMO, unique. I spent most of my time going, "wow, what a mind fuck. Which level are they on again? Oh, yeah! And how will they figure out to do the kick with no gravity?"

      I clearly rememb

    • by Thud457 (234763)
      no, I thought, gee, that's what Freeside could look like. I wish they'd get their shit together and do a decent adaptation of Neuromancer.
    • I saw the folding city in Inception and thought "Holy fuck, that is cool". I guess I must have been the only one then?

      There will always be room for movies focused around spectacles and eye candy because of visceral thrill... Perhaps the article writer has lost his ability to suspend his disbelief, but I was loving every second of the sfx (actors floating) and vfx (folding buildings) of Inception.

      I also would have been so much more impressed if the first time I saw that WAS IN THE FUCKING THEATER. I don't even watch television and I've seen that shot a thousand times while in the gym. I have my audiobook in and yep, folding city, tagline Inception. So I don't even know what the movie's about and have had what looks to be an impressive SFX shot completely ruined for me. Great move, assholes.

      My rule of thumb: movie trailers in the theater should be mini-movies that tease the audience while revealing a

  • With the proflieration of computers into everyday life, and the never ending advancement of realism in computer animation, it was bound to happen that special effects are taken for granted. The other night, my wife had asked me if I thought the cliff they were driving next to in the last Indiana Jones movie was real or removed by computer. You almost couldn't tell. We are at the point where we expect special effects to give us the movie we want. We expect them to be so seamless that you aren't sure they

  • Ubiquity (Score:5, Insightful)

    by eepok (545733) on Tuesday December 14, 2010 @04:47PM (#34551758) Homepage

    It's called ubiquity. Once something, ANYTHING, is ubiquitous, it is then assumed to be normal, common, and easy.

    • by netsavior (627338)
      Exactly,
      When 14 year olds are making realistic ligthsabre fights using a 50 dollar camcorder it just isn't that impressive when George Lucas does it. Even if he did it first.
  • The trailer for Real Steel makes me think many explodey thoughts. Admittedly it's because the trailer looks seamless and intimate and doesn't at all look like it's using trickery (as opposed to, say, Transformers, which used a lot of moving bits to hide some flim flammery).
  • Everybody in the movie industry worships the big score. Big capital is banked on the hope of a big hit. Big expensive special effects are seen as a means to that end.

    But modern effects technology also enables the production of quality-made inexpensive films. And things are only going to get cheaper . . .

    I, for one, welcome the arrival of our new independent movie production overlords!

  • If Arthur C Clarke was right in saying that sufficiently advanced technology is indistinguishable from magic, then commonplace technology is banal and not worth mentioning. When the first films came out, directors would put in gratuitous shots of autos and trains rushing towards the audience as they knew it would get gasps and screams. These days I don't think you'd find a director hoping to have audiences faint in the aisles if they included a shot of a train rushing towards the viewer.

    Hopefully as another

    • I don't believe you're quoting him correctly- it's sufficiently advanced technology is indistinguishable from magic to people back then. He meant that if you traveled to 1810 with a flying car, it'd just be magic to the natives of the time. They don't even grasp automobiles and you're showing them something so many steps removed from a horse and carriage that they can't make the jump.

      It's not supposed to be applied to people of today with technology of today.

  • I am just waiting for the Office Space CGI remake...

    • I am just waiting for the Office Space CGI remake...

      Screw CGI, I want a remake of Office Space in Legos.

  • When I was young, I liked the explosions and cool FX too. These days I'm much more impressed by a strong script, and original idea, good acting, etc. Those are MUCH more rare (and special) than CGI or cool stuntwork. Anyone can throw a bunch of money at something and make it LOOK cool. It takes a lot more to find that truly clever screenplay.

    Chris Nolan impressed me about a hundred times more with "Memento" than he every will with any lame-ass Batman movie.

  • Overexposure to anything will cause people to become less impressed. The very first cinemas didn't even try to show movies with stories, it was just everyday stuff filmed in motion. People freaked out at the sight of a locomotive coming at the camera. Who could blame them? Their whole frame of reference was still trying to come to terms with moving pictures projected against a giant screen. The illusion was entirely too convincing.

    Just think back to things that impressed you as a kid. I can think of many mo

  • ...so why do you want CGI to continue to be intrusive?

  • Lets compare Independence Day to say Avatar. In Independence Day they actually blew up a small scale replica of a city with mini explosions. In Avatar you had them all behind keyed behind a stunning computer generated background.

    I think the combination of high def and computer generated graphics took the luster of explosions away. Watching Independence Day, Star Wars, Terminator 1 and 2, etc are still really cool to watch simply because they couldn't over rely on computers to do the graphics. They had to

  • by Ultra64 (318705)

    You mean that dog is a computer?!?

  • by sehlat (180760) on Tuesday December 14, 2010 @05:14PM (#34552268)

    Robert A. Heinlein, in his 1950 essay "Where to?" mentioned as a law of nature that a nine-day wonder is taken as a matter of course on the tenth day, and Frederic Brown, in his 1954 story "Preposterous" told of a man who lives in a future so advanced even we haven't gotten there, and that man took for granted things like the "Fourth Martian War" and the "Immortality Center" who ridiculed science fiction and at the end of the story, "he quirtled."

    Consider this: I was born in 1949, the year the transistor was invented. A few years ago, I realized I had on my person 1. a cell phone. 2. A PalmPilot and 3: a 60Gigabyte iPod. I suddenly realized that all of that represented more transistors, more raw digital storage, and more raw computer processing power put together than existed on all Earth the year I was born, and probably for several years after that.

    What surprised me wasn't that I took these items for granted, but that, essentially, I was wearing them as part of my clothing.

  • crapy movies (Score:5, Insightful)

    by cuby (832037) on Tuesday December 14, 2010 @05:19PM (#34552344)
    Lately, movies seem like an excuse to show special effects with no regard for plot.
    • by jpapon (1877296)
      Oh get over yourself. Movies have always been an excuse for visual effects. If all that mattered was plot, storylines would be the end-all of story-telling. That has never, nor will it ever, be the case. Humans have sensory input. We like to use them.
  • Moreover, the youth of this generation is completely desensitized to it, likened to a forensic investigator at a gory crime scene. Star Wars is saved due to it's 'cool' factor, but Toy Story 1 is shrugged off. Story and originality are very important, and it's great to see films that aren't remakes or sequels. But I will be at the Tron premiere tomorrow night, and that's because I connected with the original. The fact that it's in 3D is meaningless. The film makers of today are being forced to lure audience
  • by Animats (122034) on Tuesday December 14, 2010 @05:24PM (#34552424) Homepage

    There's no respect any more when it's done for real.

    There's a minor movie in which the female hero runs down the side of a 40-story building with a rope reeling out behind her for support. As she nears the ground, she flips to land feet-first, and starts shooting. That was real. The run down the side of the building was done by a stuntwoman, and the landing and shooting was done by the star of the film. Most viewers assume it was faked. It wasn't.

    Overdoing it can make things worse. "Kick-Ass" has Hit Girl in three fights. The first two were plausible, which made Hit Girl credible - she had the right weapons and tactics to benefit from her small size and speed. The final one was overdone, with flying on wires, an impossible reloading sequence, and dumb tactics.

  • A movie shouldn't make you go "WOW!! THOSE SPECIAL EFFECTS ARE AWESOME!!!"

    It should make you go "WOW!! THAT MOVIE WAS GREAT!!" REGARDLESS of the special effects. If the special effects add to the sense of wow, great. If the special effects make you notice them AS special effects, they're not doing their job.

    Heck, a scene in Avatar distracted me because of the special effects. The "tree of life" or whatever it was called. I saw the "tentacles" hanging down, and my first thought was "wow, for such a high-budget movie, you'd think they'd do something other than clear plastic tubing with strand of glow-wire inside." Then I realized that the entire scene was CGI, and was impressed by the CGI so realistic, I thought it was a bad physical prop. I completely ignored the actual plot of the movie for a good minute while thinking about the special effects. That is a BAD thing for a movie maker. (Well, except Lucas, who uses special effects to hide the lack-of-plot...)

  • by tompaulco (629533) on Tuesday December 14, 2010 @06:21PM (#34553426) Homepage Journal
    I am much more impressed watching Jackie Chan do nearly superhuman stunts than watching other actors on wires doing actual superhuman stunts. I cannot stand watching martial artists flying hundreds of feet into the air while kicking the crap out of each other or swordfighting. I'd much rather watch Jackie Chan scale a 12 foot fence using only his own power.
  • Forrest Gump (Score:5, Informative)

    by Stele (9443) on Tuesday December 14, 2010 @06:32PM (#34553592) Homepage

    As others have pointed out, good stories seem much harder to come by these days.

    I think back fondly to Forrest Gump - a movie CHOCK FULL of "special effects", none of them "visible". Every one added something to the story or visual style of the movie in a totally realistic way.

    I think Transformers 2 finally confirmed for me that stuff blowing up wasn't enough. Why someone bothered to make The Expendables I have no idea.

Organic chemistry is the chemistry of carbon compounds. Biochemistry is the study of carbon compounds that crawl. -- Mike Adams

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