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  • E.T. the Extra-Terrestrial on Random Times Movies Used CGI For Absolutely No Good Reason

    (#6) E.T. the Extra-Terrestrial

    • Henry Thomas, Dee Wallace, Peter Coyote, Drew Barrymore, C. Thomas Howell, Robert MacNaughton, K.C. Martel, Sean Frye

    Toward the end of the sci-fi classic E.T., the plucky kids our alien hero has befriended try to help the unclothed, disturbing-looking xeno-monstrosity escape the authorities so that it might return to space (and presumably deliver the vital intelligence to its race needed to plan humanity's demise). The FBI agents tasked with saving Earth are armed with shotguns, which seems perfectly reasonable when you're dealing with an interplanetary, telekinetic goblin with a threateningly bioluminescent pointy finger.

    But decades after the film's release, Spielberg apparently developed the same overwhelming urge that caused George Lucas to make unnecessary "special edition" alterations to the Star Wars universe. Specifically, Spielberg thought showing FBI agents wielding firearms was simply too terrifying a notion to be contemplated by our sensitive youth, and so he digitally replaced the weapons with less threatening walkie-talkies (which, when you think about it, could be used to call in more agents with shotguns). But at least later on he apparently saw the overbearing nanny-like errors of his ways, lamenting to an audience at a 30th anniversary screening of Raiders of the Lost Ark, "I realized that what I had done was I had robbed the people who loved E.T. of their memories of E.T. And I regretted that."

  • Cats: The Movie on Random Times Movies Used CGI For Absolutely No Good Reason

    (#3) Cats: The Movie

    • Michelle Rodriguez, Jeremy Piven, Jeremy Sisto, Dominique Swain, Troy Garity

    The musical Cats was a very successful and long-running Broadway production, with a plot based on T.S. Eliot poems and songs by Andrew Lloyd Webber. It won its fair share of Tony Awards back in the 1980s and received mostly favorable critical responses, like the one from Frank Rich of The New York Times in which he said the show "transports the audience into a complete fantasy world that could only exist in the theater."

    Then, in 2019, Hollywood showed us all that they really should have paid more attention to the last few words of that sentence. Perhaps a movie version of Cats could have actually worked if the filmmakers stuck to the original plan of dressing the actors up in imaginative costumes with a little computer assistance here and there. But instead, they chose to fully embrace the dark power of CGI to turn legendary thespians Judi Dench and Ian McKellen into horrid abominations, then transform Idris Elba, Jennifer Hudson, Taylor Swift, and Rebel Wilson into the niche fantasies of those members of society who choose to attend furry conventions. Perhaps some moviemaker with a dream may try again someday, but until then, we shall perhaps only speak of names like Grizabella and Rum Tum Tugger in hushed tones in order to frighten misbehaving children.

  • Eyes Wide Shut on Random Times Movies Used CGI For Absolutely No Good Reason

    (#12) Eyes Wide Shut

    • Tom Cruise, Nicole Kidman, Sydney Pollack, Marie Richardson, Rade Serbedzija, Todd Field, Vinessa Shaw, Alan Cumming, Sky du Mont, Fay Masterson, Leelee Sobieski, Thomas Gibson, Madison Eginton, Louise J. Taylor, Stewart Thorndike, Julienne Davis, Carmela Marner, Tres Hanley, Clarke Hayes, Leslie Lowe, Phil Davies

    Stanley Kubrick’s Eyes Wide Shut sure did have a whole lot of nekkid people cavorting about, engaging in acts that... let’s just say it's not the sort of movie you'd want to go see with your grandmother. In fact, the film was so jam-packed with wanton coitus and various bits flopping about that the ratings board was going to slap it with the dreaded NC-17 rating if drastic measures weren't taken to tone down the in-your-face perversity.

    While it's unknown whether Kubrick would have approved of any ratings board-placating alterations, as he passed late in post-production (after submitting a completed edit), the studio found a way to avoid having to do everything over while keeping the perfectionist director's perfectly staged orgy scenes intact. By using CGI to insert and rearrange some of the figures in frame to block out just enough of the smut, Warner Bros. was able to secure the much more acceptable R rating. A PG-13 was probably out of the question, at least without adding a whole football team's worth of digital extras to block the screen and have them all sing a jaunty tune to cover up all the moaning.

  • The Twilight Saga: Breaking Dawn - Part 2 on Random Times Movies Used CGI For Absolutely No Good Reason

    (#1) The Twilight Saga: Breaking Dawn - Part 2

    • Kristen Stewart, Robert Pattinson, Taylor Lautner, Billy Burke, Peter Facinelli, Elizabeth Reaser, Kellan Lutz, Nikki Reed, Jackson Rathbone, Ashley Greene, Michael Sheen, Dakota Fanning, Mackenzie Foy, Julia Jones, Booboo Stewart, Lee Pace, Christian Camargo, Mia Maestro, Casey LaBow, Maggie Grace, MyAnna Buring, Joe Anderson, Omar Metwally, Rami Malek, Guri Weinberg, Noel Fisher, Chaske Spencer, Jamie Campbell Bower, Christopher Heyerdahl

    The Twilight franchise naturally required plentiful CGI assistance to accomplish the required amount of sexy vampire twinkle and bedazzlement. But in the final installment of the series, Breaking Dawn - Part 2, the filmmakers decided to go with a practical effect to introduce the audience to Bella’s daughter, a half-human/half-undead abomination named Renesmee. And it would have been wildly successful if their goal was to create one of the most disturbing, sinister affronts to the natural order ever put to film.

    However, this was not their intention, and so the monstrosity (which the cast and crew referred to as Chuckesme in an homage to the villainous doll from another franchise) was replaced with a digital version (seen above). While not as primally repugnant as Chuckesme, the computerized replacement definitely had its own instinctually abhorrent lack of charm. The reported reason they didn't use an actual infant to play the role of Renesmee was that the unspeakable hybrid was supposed to appear as if it could believably talk when only a few days out of the womb - which is something Look Who's Talking accomplished way back in 1989, but whatever.

  • Tag on Random Times Movies Used CGI For Absolutely No Good Reason

    (#13) Tag

    • Ed Helms, Jon Hamm, Jeremy Renner, Jake Johnson, Annabelle Wallis, Hannibal Buress, Isla Fisher, Rashida Jones, Leslie Bibb

    You know Jeremy Renner has to be tough when his alter-ego is a superhero who has no superpowers and got into the Avengers with nothing more than a weapon that anyone can buy at the local Walmart. He proved his intestinal fortitude when he injured himself while trying to evade co-stars Jon Hamm, Ed Helms, and Hannibal Buress in a scene in the comedy Tag, after which he agreed to perform another take with two broken arms.

    And if that wasn't enough evidence that Renner is a trooper, he filmed the rest of the movie in pain and with casts on. You'd never know it, however, because instead of writing "Get well soon LOL" on the casts, they were painted green so that the magic of CGI could make it look like they weren't there at all. Well, almost. If you pay close attention, you can see Renner wearing a brace while he's wearing a short-sleeved shirt, and there's one part where his hands noticeably levitate oddly over a tabletop. Which begs the question: If you're going to go through all that trouble to make arms that look only semi-realistic, why not just make the movie a thousand times cooler by giving him tentacles?

  • Star Wars Episode II: Attack of the Clones on Random Times Movies Used CGI For Absolutely No Good Reason

    (#11) Star Wars Episode II: Attack of the Clones

    • Ewan McGregor, Natalie Portman, Hayden Christensen, Christopher Lee, Samuel L. Jackson, Frank Oz, Ian McDiarmid, Pernilla August, Temuera Morrison, Jimmy Smits, Jack Thompson, Leeanna Walsman, Ahmed Best, Rose Byrne, Oliver Ford Davies, Ronald Falk, Jay Laga'aia, Andy Secombe, Anthony Daniels, Kenny Baker, Silas Carson

    During the romantic interlude in Star Wars: Episode II - you know, the overlong part of the movie where nobody's attacking clones while Anakin and Padmé attack the audience’s patience - the future Darth Vader uses his Force powers (in what seems to be a clear violation of Jedi Midi-chlorian restrictions) to levitate a pear around to impress his future baby mama/victim. Now, if this were some sort of exotic space fruit with tentacles or whatever, it would be understandable for George Lucas to put Industrial Light and Magic to work on coding a digital version. But this is quite obviously a pear - the sort you can send a production assistant to find in any grocery store (or dollar store for a plastic one) pretty much anywhere on Earth.

    Deploying the already-existing produce seems like it would have been a much simpler way to go about things, no? But when you own your own personal special effects studio and have millions upon millions of epic space-opera dollars to toss around, perhaps going the CGI route actually is doing things the easy way.

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