Or, in the case of this one, Jonesy!


I had a great time at Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull.  I was highly entertained by the 'pickles' they found themselves in, and Shia LaBeouf was way less annoying than I had anticipated.  Between the car chasing fight scenes, nostalgic homages to the trilogy, backtalking to villains, Cate Blanchett's Russian accent, and the 24 oz. of water I downed during the trailers, I was completely enthralled to the very end.  

Part of me was worried that this movie would have the 'Episode' curse of the new Star Wars movies: so, so terrible that they can only be enjoyed if you are either obsessed with the Star Wars Universe (i.e., you can name all three Organa-Solo children) or enjoy the chance to make fun of a total shipwreck-of-a-film.  Thankfully Steven Spielberg was able to have some control over this movie franchise.

Unfortunately, there were still some Lucasfilm 'magic' that made its way in.  It's a little something called CEO-CGI, also known as Chronic Employment Of Computer Generated Imagery.  I respect that using CGI can be environmentally friendly and cost-effective.  I do not respect that if over-used, it makes me feel like I paid $10 to watch a video game:

Do you think this snake was CGI?

No.  They put a screen between them.  They had to use something called 'special effects', which in turn requires something called 'creativity.'  As an artist/filmmaker/whatever, you're choosing to say: "let's think of way to do this that makes it look real" as opposed to: "we'll just add it in later in post-production."

Is this digital Petra?  No.  Was it green-screened?  No.  Now look at this scene 'outdoors' in 'New Mexico' from Kingdom of the Crystal Skull:

Just how much does this lighting make it look like a sound-stage with a fake sunset?  Too much!  I have to say this kind of thing distracted me during the movie.  And it didn't need to!  I'm even OK with things being filmed on backlots and on sets.  Just make it look like someone made it--God or human craftsmen--not a computer!

(Rant ends here).


Allie said...

I strongly agree with you. CGI mania is such a threat to the film industry.
I love the Star Wars-Indiana Jones melded photo. LOVE IT. I wrote a "review" (quotes because it's very biased) for the Falcon... You should read it.

Maryann said...

I totally will!

Anonymous said...

i don't think it's fair to equate practical effects with creativity and visual effects with laziness. i feel like both are tools that can be used well or poorly and have no inherent virtue in and of themselves.

but i understand where you're coming from. as a moviegoer, i'm a huge fan of practical effects. but as a person who's also interested in the making of cinema, i can also understand why creators like george lucas fall in love with visual effects: it's a technology that allows more control over more details. sure, in some ways it's easier and cheaper—especially and the epic scale he wants to work at. but i think the bottom line isn't anything so base. simply, it allows him to more fully realize his creative vision. and i think he realizes that maybe something ineffable has been lost in-between frames but i also think it probably bothers him less than, for example, watching the original star wars movies and knowing as only someone behind the scenes would know precisely and tangibly what was lost.

initially i wrote a lot more here (if you can imagine), but i'll spare you. suffice it to say, it's a subject i've spent way too much time thinking about. maybe i'll write a post about it later on, though.

Maryann said...

CGI might give you more control over details, but I wouldn't consider the details to be as impressive or as transportive (?) as actual detail made by set designers/effects experts. For certain kinds of films I can understand using CGI along with live action, for instance Moulin Rouge. And some movies don't over do it, like the Lord of the Rings. Anyway, while I don't totally agree with you, I would be interested to hear more of your thoughts if you blog about this.

Anonymous said...

oh, i definitely agree that something's lost. i guess all i'm saying is i think that that matters to film viewers more than filmmakers.

i think people watch films for slightly different reasons than people make them. we watch movies for the experience but i think people make films in order to realize a vision. and obviously there's a balance of the two for both artist and audience, but i think each party is aiming for a slightly different target.

so while we might walk out of a movie scratching our head and wondering why a movie chose to use cg when, in our opinion, our experience would have been so much richer had it used practical effects instead, i think that because of the slightly different hierarchy of priorities between that of the audience and artist, it might simultaneously be the wrong choice for the audience and the right choice for the artist, if that makes sense.

in any case, i guess i just really wanted to respond to the implication that filmmakers use cg because they're lazy or uncreative. personally, i prefer practical effects, too, but i don't think it's a matter of bad motives.

Anonymous said...

so i'm in the process of writing that more in-depth post. it's taking me a long time to organize my thoughts. but i wanted to mention that while i haven't seen kingdom of the crystal skull yet, i talked to someone who has and he mentioned that he felt as if the use of cg backgrounds like the new mexico desert sunset you mentioned was intentionally made to look artificial as an homage to the analogous effect from 1950s-era filmmaking, rear projection, although he immediately admitted that he felt they might have gotten a little too cute with that stuff. lucas is kind of incorrigible with that sort of thing. i remember how proud he was of episode ii's cringe-worthy title because it was a throwback to that era's (bad) sci-fi films. anyway, i thought it was an interesting if useless tidbit of information.