Worse than Cat? The biggest CGI catastrophes in cinema

The trailer for the live-action adaptation has shocked fans but, from Anaconda to Sonic, computer imagery in cinema has a patchy record

Cat trailer 2019

What it was
A horror, a horror movie, a singing violent horror.

What it was like
What if all the muscles in your body clenched at once and the resulting mess of bones and ligaments spelled out, in bold red capitals, the word ” CATS “? And James Corden was there, singing? What if that? This is not a nightmare. Check your eyes and know yourself to be awake.

How it stimulated us feel
I feel like someone drained all the blood out and gave it to Judi Dench.

What happened
Sadly, unavoidably, it’ll breach box-office records and probably get an Oscar nod.

Water
Water mess … Deep Blue Sea. Photograph: Allstar/ Warner Bros

Deep Blue Sea 1999

What it was
An essential entry in a long line of cinemas in the genre” water’s scary, innit ?”

What it looked like
A lot of the cinema was just
Samuel L Jackson screaming at a wall placed behind the camera because it was easier to get him to act “the concept of something exploding” than actually rendering an explosion.

How it constructed us feel
Deep Blue Sea is actually a pretty great water-thriller, but it straddles a very precise moment in CGI history that is” right before it get good “. Animatronic sharks do the closeup work- like in the olden days!- then, for the more active and vicious demise scenes, eerily floating and altogether unconvincing CGI enters the scene.

What happened ?
Well, The Meg came out last year, which is basically” What if a shark get smart-alecky enough to headbutt its way into our research lab ?” so essentially the same film will be made every 20 years until we die.

Anaconda 1997

Fangs
Fangs for nothing … Anaconda. Photograph: Allstar/ Columbia

What it was
A pre-J-Lo
J-Lo vehicle starring Ice Cube doing his best” look out of the corner of his eyes and say’ What the –?'” bit, Jon Voight at his sneering peak, and a serpent made out of a Windows 95 screensaver.

What it was like
” Snakes are just gray tubes, right ?”- whoever rendered the snake in Anaconda, having never seen a serpent and refusing to ever look at one.

How it attained us feel
Anaconda was supposed to inspire tension and fear- a classic sleepover jump-and-scream- but throughout, there is a constant and palpable feeling that you are watching six B-tier actors scream at a tennis ball videotapeed to some rope with an unscary serpent drag-and-dropped in later by a nerd.

What happened ?
It was a box-office success and somehow inspired four sequels, the latest of which was released in 2015, so what do I know?

The Polar Express 2004

The
In training … The Polar Express. Photograph: Allstar/ Warner Bros

What it was
A brazen try by
Tom Hanks to monopolise Christmas.

What it looked like
Shoots for: an illustrated Yuletide children’s book of yore, brought to life and put on a train. Lands in: why do all of these characters build my skin want to crawl off my body? What will I do without skin?

How it built us feel
Can never decide what is eeriest about every character in The Polar Express: the texturelessness of their faces? The stiff and unnatural way their limbs and hands move? No, I’ve got it: it’s the way all of their jaws are hinged on wrongly. Like watching animals garmented in skin.

What happened ?
I imagine we’ll discover the true traumatic impact of The Polar Express once the generation of children who were raised on it can finally afford therapy to talk openly.

Sonic the Hedgehog 2019

Sonic
A bit of blue … Sonic the Hedgehog. Photograph: Paramount Image

What it was
Arguably the most doomed film in cinema history: 26 years after the first wave of Sonic-mania, and five years after the subsequent internet-driven horny fan art era, Paramount decided to make a CGI retelling of the
Sonic legend with a hedgehog that appears as if someone embedded children’s teeth in a dog.

What it looked like
The initial Sonic trailer was proof of concept that CGI has gone too far: not only can computers now render, say, the smaller hairs on a forearm, it can now dive deep into my very darkest nightmares and extract them whole, putting them on screen for all to see.

How it made us feel
As if someone retconned my childhood to make it bad: it’s like someone’s told me Sunny D is actually owned by Putin and finger skateboards are Isis propaganda.

What happened ?
Fans have push forward a redesign( it’s not even that hard: make-up the body shorter, the eyes bigger, the lips less human, then cancel the cinema) and Paramount appears to have relented. The new nightmare sprints towards us in February 2020.

Read more: www.theguardian.com

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