6 Reasons Modern Movie CGI Looks Surprisingly Crappy

Discussion in 'Entertainment and Movie Talk' started by alienscollection.com, May 17, 2015.

  1. alienscollection.com

    alienscollection.com Master Member

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  2. alienscollection.com

    alienscollection.com Master Member

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  3. Sluis Van Shipyards

    Sluis Van Shipyards Master Member

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    I still think the worst CGI I ever saw was in Blade 2 when the ninja vampires attack him in his hideout. It looked so fake because they completely ignored physics.
     
  4. Jeyl

    Jeyl Master Member

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    If you listen to Guillermo del Toro's commentary, he doesn't like it either.
     
  5. gizmo

    gizmo Sr Member RPF PREMIUM MEMBER

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    Those articles pretty much hit the nail on the head. Some movies these days really do have the attitude of "just cause we can" when it come to effects. I really miss the days where directors had technical restrictions. It brought out the best in them.


    Ben
     
  6. dascoyne

    dascoyne Master Member

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    Another thing they can't seem to get right is when a CGI character jumps.
    I don't know why they can't get the physics right for this.
    Last time I saw this was in Guardians of the Galaxy when Drax was fighting Ronan on Knowhere. CGI Drax jumps and it looks like he's being yanked up by a string.

    I used to think it's because the center of mass is calculated using the lower abdomen when, in reality, the center of mass changes with the body position.

    Or maybe it's because with a character jumping a superhuman height normal body mechanics just don't look natural. In real life, if such a thing were possible, the person would have to move like an insect which would look even stranger. So they're stuck with having the CGI character perform a normal jumping motion but sending them in the air like a puppet.
     
  7. dasAdam

    dasAdam Active Member

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    as for the jumping
    if its not based on any motion capture it is animated by hand... its basically simple as that (and also a reason why it looks off , when it looks off) there is no restriction whatsoever. the body mass calculation does exist but its just used to get secondary motion along with the animated main movement of the char (fattywobbly underchin, *, floppy dragon neck ) :D
     
  8. batguy

    batguy Sr Member

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    I hate to be a party pooper, but a lot of these shots can't look right. These things cannot happen. Our subconscious minds don't buy individual things about the physics of the movements even if we are telling ourselves to swallow the whole premise.
     
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  9. dascoyne

    dascoyne Master Member

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    Thanks. The "physics" applied in CGI is rarely defined for the lay-person like me.
     
  10. 0neiros

    0neiros Master Member

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    The worst CGI in a movie STILL is The Mummy II. OMFG SyFy original movies do a better job. That Trailer for Paul Blart Mall Cop II when he gets (Supposedly) kicked by a horse is pretty bad.
     
  11. Solo4114

    Solo4114 Master Member

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    You mean the Scorpion King effects? Yeah, they were awful then and remain awful now. I saw better f/x on Babylon 5 when they were doing stuff with a Video Toaster.
     
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  12. kegas76

    kegas76 Well-Known Member

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    Man the opening scene of Ultron had me feeling like this. All the CGI HYDRA members getting tossed around in the woods, it just didn't look right.
     
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  13. Riceball

    Riceball Sr Member

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    As some commentors in the article pointed out, there's good CGI and there's bad GCI, it's not universal nor is it something that's inherent to the medium and practical isn't always great or perfect either. A lot of what determines whether effects work, practical or CG, is any good depends on a lot of factors such as the time and money allocated to effects. the effects supervisor, and last but certainly not least is the director. The process for FX shot starts with a concept or an idea in the script, the director will flesh it to his/her effects supervisor who will then in turn work with the effects house(s) to create the shot, it will go through several iterations until the lead or supervisor is happy and thinks that it's what the director wants, it will then get shown to the effects supervisor who will give their feedback and once they accept it they'll pass it on the director who will give a final thumbs up or down on the sequence. So, ultimately, bad FX is the fault of the director although there are mitigating factors at times.

    The other things that some commentors pointed in the article pointed out that although people like to complain about CG being used a lot, there's actually a lot more CG and effects work that are in basic comedies and dramas where you wouldn't think that there was any CG in it. The fact that most people either don't know or don't notice the post work says, to me, that a lot of these complaints are baseless and much of it is just bandwagon jumping.
     
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  14. batguy

    batguy Sr Member

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    Saying "CGI always looks fake" is like saying makeup or cosmetic surgery always looks fake

    You probably notice 10% of what they do with it, if that. But if they overreach what is possible or they do a weak job then it's VERY objectionable.
     
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  15. Solo4114

    Solo4114 Master Member

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    Anyone who thinks practical is always better should go back and watch some of the old Gamera movies where they don't even bother to try to hide that they're using tiny models. CGI has done some really wonderful things. It's also done some crappy stuff. But then, there was crappy stuff before.

    Two things.

    1. I think the CGI people notice and is bad is a problem because it's CGI that's meant to be noticed. It usually appears in some big action sequence or as part of a spectacle. When something like that fails, it fails in a big, noticeable way. Again, the Scorpion King CG from The Mummy II is a perfect example. This is THE big moment in the film, and the quality...just isn't there. By contrast, a sequence in a comedy where something just looks a little off for a second probably will go unnoticed because it isn't right in your face.

    2. I think shifts in color timing have a lot to do with how people view films nowadays. What with the tendency towards orange or blue timing, rather than "normal" timing, I think people are already sort of primed to see artificiality because everything already looks artificial and like it's from a video game. When the entire world already looks like that, you may find your eye wandering to try to spot sequences that just don't ring true.


    Actually, lately, I find that my personal bugbear about visuals in film is color timing itself, rather than CGI. I accept that CGI is here to stay and that the real trick is creating more effective lighting so you don't quite notice it, rather than highlighting it with shots like the A-Team tank drop shot. But more importantly, I think more natural color timing would help a lot. I can understand tinting a picture to create a kind of feel, but it seems like a lot of action films don't really "get" that and just do color timing a particular way because...uh...that's how you're supposed to do it.

    For example, the old Twin Peaks show was shot very "red" to give the visual feel of a warm, welcoming environment. This visual "feel" stood as a counterpoint to all the crap lurking beneath the surface of the town, and it creates a wonderful dichotomy. Likewise, in the Matrix films, the Matrix itself is tinted green to create a feeling of unreality and lifelessness. That's a conscious choice. Nowadays, though, it seems that films are tinted this way or that way just...uh...because. It's so ubiquitous that it's almost become unnoticeable.
     
  16. batguy

    batguy Sr Member

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    I don't think CGI's failure rate is very high at all, never mind higher than earlier methods. Probably the only major pre-CGI effect that had a very good success rate, even when ambitious stuff was being attempted, was matte paintings.

    But when CGI fails it tends to be a real mess. The failures end up being much more objectionable than bad practical (or even optical) effects. I think this is a lot of the problem today. It's either perfect or it annoys the heck out of the audience.




    The Mummy II ending -

    When that movie came out I thought to myself "ILM found an excuse to try a photorealistic human for the first time!" That was most of 15 years ago and it had not been done. They could have shot Dwayne Johnson's head/torso and comped it into their CGI lower body but they didn't.

    Of course it wasn't convincing. I don't blame ILM for trying it as much as I blame the movie's producers for letting them do it that way. That was during the great transition away from practical SFX and ILM was already a lost cause by then. They were hopelessly CGI-addicted and looking for any excuse to indulge.
     
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  17. cayman shen

    cayman shen Master Member

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    The new Planet of the Apes movies are an example of CG used brilliantly. There were a few times I'd SWEAR I was looking at real apes. The movies were top notch stories and I have zero gripes about the use of CG.

    And then there's ROTS, with old man Palpatine flipping around, or the Hobbit, with...man, where do I start?

    CG has its place, but it's like salt. A lot of recipes need salt. Salt can add a lot to a dish. But if the whole * thing is salt, it makes you want to friggin' gag.

    CG is for flourishes, small moments, last resorts. Nobody wants to just eat handfuls of salt.
     
    Last edited: May 19, 2015
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  18. Zombie_61

    Zombie_61 Master Member

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    I'll see your The Mummy Returns and Paul Blart: Mall Cop II and raise you with R.I.P.D., a movie in which every CG character looked like a cartoon. I still think the producers of R.I.P.D. knew they didn't have the resources to make the CG effects look realistic, so they went with "cartoonish" as a stylistic choice.

    I haven't seen Dawn of the Planet of the Apes yet, but when I saw Rise of the Planet of the Apes I never once believed Caesar was a living, breathing creature. However, I thought the movie was so good that I just accepted it was how Caesar looked and didn't give it a second thought.

    Here's the thing--CG artists can make a dinosaur look believable in the Jurassic Park franchise because none of us has ever seen a real dinosaur, so it's easier for them to "fool" us. But, using the new Planet of the Apes franchise for this example, I have seen real chimpanzees. So even though the effects were top notch, Caesar just looked "off" to me even though I can't specifically say why. Granted, when I watch the original Planet of the Apes movies I don't believe I'm seeing real chimpanzees, orangutans, or gorillas either (except, of course, in those few scenes in which they actually used chimpanzees), so that suspension of disbelief works the same way.

    As has been said, there are good and bad CG effects just as there are good and bad practical effects. For me, it only becomes a problem when the effects are so bad (regardless of whether they're CG or practical) that they ruin the movie or television show I'm watching.
     
  19. Solo4114

    Solo4114 Master Member

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    False. My fiance would probably eat handfuls of salt. She LOVES salt. I have seen her literally take a salt shaker, shake some salt into a bowl, and just dip her finger in to eat it.

    All that aside, I agree that CG should be used in moderation. Although, I think that's true of any special effects. It all goes back to the old (now ironic) Lucas quote about how a special effect without a good story is a really boring thing. I think this has never been more true than it is today. CG and practical effects have gotten so advanced that you can * near do ANYTHING on screen...but that freedom doesn't automatically translate into a good film or an interesting story.

    I still haven't seen Avatar, but based on people's reactions to it and its longevity at this point, I think the general sentiment is "AMAZING f/x. Pretty ho-hum story otherwise." As a result, Avatar is not a new classic. The new classics are the movies based around really good stories and where special effects are a tool used in telling that story, rather than the showcase around which the story is built.

    Exactly. Like I said, ultimately it's about the story. I get the whole "Jumping looks unnatural" thing, and I agree....yet I didn't care when I was watching Age of Ultron, simply because the story was humming along nicely anyway.
     
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  20. dascoyne

    dascoyne Master Member

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    Director James Gunn, for one, seems to recognize the pitfalls of CGI. Even with a giant budget, for Guardians of the Galaxy, he still used a lot of practical effects. In fact, the practicals often blended with the CGI making the "seams" harder to detect. This was a principle which he applied also in the (wonderful) film, Super when a certain sidekick gets killed.
     
  21. Zombie_61

    Zombie_61 Master Member

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    This is one of the reasons the late Stan Winston was considered to be a master of special effects. When CGI began to dominate over practical effects in the movie industry, a lot of practical effects artists began worrying about how much longer their chosen profession would last. Winston, on the other hand, realized there would be a need for practical effects for a long time to come, and he not only embraced CGI but worked happily with CGI artists so that audiences would not be able to determine where the CGI ended and the practical effects began. To him, it didn't matter how they achieved the final effects--his goal was simply to make them believable and seamless so movie audiences wouldn't be disappointed.
     
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  22. batguy

    batguy Sr Member

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    For the life of me I cannot put my finger on why Avatar hasn't resonated better. I agree, it hasn't resonated that well. It just seems like it should be doing better when taken on paper.

    Yeah the story is simple & predictable. You could say the same thing about tons of classics. Indy & the Nazis chase that stupid Ark, eventually they open it, and Indy gets the girl & the Ark in the end. Romeo & Juliet fall in love against her family's wishes, the boat sinks, and tragedy ensues.

    People say the plot feels really worn out. But when asked for other examples of it that are recent and/or well-remembered, nobody has any. I can barely remember "Dances with Wolves" and I've never seen "Pocahontas".


    I think maybe Avatar's failing is that it combines things that are fine ingredients on their own but didn't play well together. The blue smurf cartoon people, the adult anti-corporate, anti-imperialism message, the simple plotline, the tone, etc.
     
  23. DaddyfromNaboo

    DaddyfromNaboo Master Member RPF PREMIUM MEMBER

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    Main reason:

    The CGI artist today lacks a classical, "physical" education. I.e. where earlier concept artists usually had a classical background, today it´s mostly digital media. And their artistical education is probably just copying what had been done over the years. Where about 50 years ago you had centuries of art as a source of inspiration and artists had a very broad training it nowadays looks like they simply copy what is found in art within the last two or maybe three centuries, be it production design or costume design or digital visual design and vfx design.
     
  24. jarroth

    jarroth Well-Known Member

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    agree on lots of things about bad cgi.

    still i prefer a good told story in a film with bad cgi over perfect cgi in a crappy story.

    heck i even like some of the syfy original movies/series. not because of the "high quality top end" cgi but the story and execution of it isnt bad at all.
    seen alot worse high dollar perect CGI that are worse.
     
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  25. justanuthercap

    justanuthercap Well-Known Member RPF PREMIUM MEMBER

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    Several things here and a few people have touched on them.

    First, I'd estimate that 90 percent of CG is never noticed. You only ever notice BAD CG.
    -Unless of course it's something that your brain just cannot believe is real. In this case it's not BAD CG it's just impossible to fool the brain on occasion. (ie. in Guardians you KNOW that Rocket is CG but it definately is not bad CG in the slightest).

    Second, it's EXTREMELY difficult to convince you that something living that you have seen in real life is real if it's been replaced with CG. The Planet of the Apes is an excellent example, great overall CG, great overall movemet, motion capture was superb, but there are a millions little tells that what you're looking at is not real. Have you ever seen someone standing still? There are still hundreds of little motions going on (it's one of the reasons that a dead body can really creep you out, there is NO movement whatsoever).

    And as far as practicle effects being the greatest thing since sliced bread, I think there's quite a bit of selective/nostalgic recall going on. How many spaceships and puppets and animatronics and stop motion creatures and characters did you REALLY think were real? Even the sheet of glass between Indy and the cobra we picked up on eventually because of the reflection!

    And just for the record, if you've ever been in a room full of animators, they do the motions themselves or ask the next guy to do the motions so they can study them. They even film the motions and the basically rotoscope over the top of it. So don't think for a minute that a good animator is just pulling these motions out of his head and saying "yeah, I'm positive that's what it looks like". Bad animators... well, that's a different story.

    Now I'm not saying that either one is better than the other, in fact the combining of the two mediums is what REALLY sells the shot usually.

    I'm sorry for the rant but I am so very tired of the "ALL CG SUCKS" mentality that sometimes goes around.
     
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  26. Riceball

    Riceball Sr Member

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    I agree wholeheartedly, just any behind the scenes videos of just about any Pixar movie and you'll see how the animators will actually go out to study animals in real life to get an idea of the motion as well as getting models in to pose or act out movements that they can't do themselves. More often the reason why you sometimes get unrealistic motions is because the motion desired itself is unrealistic (not the artists fault), or because they're under too tight of a deadline/budget to really do it right.
     
  27. Laspector

    Laspector Sr Member

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    I don't recall reading here or anywhere else where anybody ever said "ALL CG SUCKS"
     
  28. LrdSatyr8

    LrdSatyr8 Sr Member

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    Personally I'm amazed at how far CG has come in the past few years. It's come a long way from Terminator 2 effects. It took them awhile to get water to look realistic... same with fire. But the algorithms they've come up with recently really do look believable. They are getting better at facial animation too. You can still tell that it's CG, but it's getting harder to tell. For example... I didn't realize that the young Jeff Bridges was CG until about 3/4 of the way thru the movie. Not too bad. Facial animation is tough thou... there are so many visual cues that are almost imperceptible that just give it away... maybe its because we see faces every day. It's hard for the computer to catch all those little subtle clues seeing as it does the rendering "in-between" frames to determine the best "guess" of where the next point will be and that always gives it away because many times it's wrong. Not all CG is bad... but it is a let down if it is discovered it is CG sometimes. Personally there are somethings that CG just cannot do. It hasn't quite figured out how to render thick fluids like oil or grease.... can always tell when those are animated. Honestly I would prefer to see a filmed model shot against a green/blue screen over a 3D rendering CG shot of the same model. I think its because the rendered version comes out looking too perfect... too rigid. When filming alot of little imperfections occur... like the glint of light off a shiney spot hits the lens and caused just the but it also hits several other parts on the same model and causes them to get brighter and others to get darker. Like happy little accidents. The computer software doesn't always go that deeply in light reflection... and sometimes to save money, the "bounce" level of light is constrained to only happen once or twice, the more levels, the longer it takes to render every frame... but in real life, there are no constraints... and the light goes where ever it wants to and it takes a fraction of the time to render. Does it help when budget and time matters, sure, but some directors think that everything should be done in CG and it totally ruins the feel of it.
     
  29. Laspector

    Laspector Sr Member

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    I think the animals in Life of Pi were some of the best I've ever seen. There was only a shot or two in that movie where IMHO they were not 100% real looking. I think I read somewhere there was only one shot of the tiger that was a real tiger. Unfortunately the time and amount of money put into those CG animals bankrupted the vfx company I heard.
     
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  30. CessnaDriver

    CessnaDriver Master Member RPF PREMIUM MEMBER

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    I can live with a lot of things, but the lack of gravity and physics makes me cringe.
    Just watched The Hobbit films and they just did this again and again and again.
    If I want that I'll stick to Wile E Coyote thanks.
    Gravity they had the MMU flying around like a spastic moth.
    They can make things look great but still utter fail on how things actually behave.
     
  31. alienscollection.com

    alienscollection.com Master Member

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  32. CessnaDriver

    CessnaDriver Master Member RPF PREMIUM MEMBER

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    Perhaps now that it's been an overused and abused tool for so long, it will fall more into being a useful tool in the toolbox.
    When all the tools are used together wisely we get some great stuff.
     
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  33. Bryancd

    Bryancd Master Member

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    Avatar's stunning visuals and CGI really only deliver when seen in 3D and on a big screen. It's not as strong as an in home experience.
     
  34. niennumb1

    niennumb1 Master Member RPF PREMIUM MEMBER

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    This shot in "Air Force One" was so awful and embarrassing I cannot watch the film after the one time I did see it all the way through. It's just atrocious.....

     
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  35. Riceball

    Riceball Sr Member

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    That was pretty bad but I doubt that it could have been done all that much better practically. Part of the problem with that shot was that it looked like they comped the CG model of the plane onto real water and added CG splashes and to be fair, CG was still relatively new at this point.
     
  36. LrdSatyr8

    LrdSatyr8 Sr Member

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    Personally I would much rather they used CGI as a way to enhance practical effects instead of trying to prove that practical effects can be replaced by them. When they use CGI to extend the set, or show a warship sinking in the distance it's good, but when the whole movie is centered around all the CGI, it just makes it too phony for me. Unless of course it's an animated movie like Up or Toy Story then its all good.
     
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  37. batguy

    batguy Sr Member

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    I disagree.

    Hollywood has been crashing airliners as long as there have been airliners. They have done many large-scale model shots that sold pretty well.

    Here's an airliner hitting the water in Airport '77. (The extended crash starts at about 6:00)
    The composite shots are weak but the actual model plane hitting the water is miles better than the Air Force One CGI shot. And it was done fully 20 years earlier:

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=P3JyEBM9ovk




    I saw Air Force One in the theater back in 1997 and I remember the whole audience groaned along with me when that plane crashed. We would have bought a 1970s-quality miniature shot much more readily. It might not have looked 100% perfect but it wouldn't have been so bad it was distracting. The shot in the movie looked pretty bad even for the time.

    If a studio wants to develop their CGI tech they can always do it on their own dime. In Air Force One it hurt the movie.
     
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  38. JOATRASH FX

    JOATRASH FX Master Member RPF PREMIUM MEMBER

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    Same here. I was immediately taken out of the movie right at the start. The impossible camera moves and sketchy motion-tracking due to a seeming attempt at "opening BIG" just killed it right away for me. If you have to do so much that the tech starts to break down in what should have been one of THE biggest movie openings ever, it's time to scale back a bit. In comparison, the effects work in Guardians of the Galaxy was so much better. I can't think of anything in that film that really looked off or wrong, but Ultron was full of it.
     
  39. glunark

    glunark Sr Member

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    I know its off topic, but in airport 77 if they knew they were crashing why were so many passengers and crew not wearing their seatbelts?
     
  40. batguy

    batguy Sr Member

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    In Airport '77 they whacked an oil rig a few beats before they hit the water. Somehow this merely jolted the plane off balance instead of tearing half the wing off.

    The plane was being hijacked. It's been a while since I watched the movie but I don't think the passengers had realized how low & close to danger they were yet.
     
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