Nathan Macintosh

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Movies today look worse than they did in '88.


We are told that we are advancing every day. New phones, new graphics, new computers. One way we are not advancing, though? Effects in movies. With these, we seem to be getting worse than we already were. We're actually going back in time. Special effects in the eighties in the nineties were great. Now? Some movies that come out now use good special effects, but most? Not good at all. Watch the trailer for Expendables 2, where the plane crashes into a cave, and tell me that doesn't look like some graphics that were used in the first PlayStation.
"Hey, should this movie look better than the original Tomb Raider?"
"...No. I think that's fine."
"Yeah? Sweet! Movie's done then. Man, it's so easy to finish a movie when you don't care how it looks. Time to celebrate!"
How is it that in 2012 special effects can look so bad?

This all came about for me one night while watching Predators. Made in 2010. The original Predator was made in 1987. You would assume that with all of the advancement that took place within those twenty-five years that Predators would look better than the original. Does it? Does it look better than the original that looked totally fine? Does it even look AS good? It does not. First Predator? Looks great. New Predators? My God. It looked like the special effects were taken from a Laser Quest.
"We need space guns, right? My son said that these laser tag guns he used last week looked pretty cool."
"Laser tag? You want to use laser tag guns?"
"Yeah, it'll be fun! Not only will we be shooting a movie, we'll give the actors a game to play! Whoever has the most points at the end of the shoot gets a million dollar bonus!"
For a scene in the first Predator, a jungle needed to be mowed down with guns. What happens? A JUNGLE IS MOWED DOWN! That's how it used to be. When something was called for to be blown up or destroyed, something was blown up or destroyed! An entire rainforest and ecosystem were probably taken out making that movie.
"I called this meeting today about the environment to let everyone know that we lost three types of birds today and a rare tree."
"What? How come? Is it pollution? Is it gas emissions?"
"No... it was due to one scene in the movie Predator. An entire forest was destroyed during a scene in which Arnold and his team shoot aimlessly at a Predator that they cannot see."
"...Oh man...does the scene look cool?"
"Well, yeah, it looks great, but that's not the point. The point is, we lost birds that we will never see again, and when one ecosystem is destroyed, it hur..."
"It looks great! Let's go see it!"
Also, just quickly, Topher Grace was in Predators, and who in the world wants to see Topher Grace with a gun in an action movie? Are seventeen-year-old girls casting movies? Even more quickly, how the hell did that man become the one chosen to play Venom?! How! Why not Fez? What about Red? Go all the way down the 'That 70'S Show' cast and get Kitty.
"Spidermaaannn. I've been looking for you, eehehehahah."

We're told all the time that movies that come out today are great looking, unbelievable, and visually stunning.
"You have to see this movie! It looks better than real life! Like, right now, you look like trash compared to this movie. You look like an 8-bit loser compared to it! I know! Wow, even your tears look worse than that movie's tears! Doesn't compare at all." 
Really? Most movies now are comparable to cartoons. Nothing in them is real at all. There are times in the movie when the actor is digitally imposed. The actor! They'll digitally impose in the actual actor that is supposed to be actually acting in the actual movie. 
"Hey, guys? I really don't feel like going in there and saying my line, 'Do we have any leads on this case?' I just want to sit here and finish my soup."
"Oh, that's no problem. We have already created you on a computer. You can just go home if you want."
"Really? Wow. A yacht for this, huh? The only line I said so far was, 'Can I get a footlong? Yeah, lettuce is cool.'"
"And you delivered it perfectly! We still may computer-generate it, though. Either way, thanks for coming in."

Nothing in movies is real anymore. Everything is computer-generated. When something was needed in an older movie, they actually had it. Even things that didn’t exist – they would be made.
"Hey, we need a spaceship."
"Just go down to Costco and grab one. Haha, just kidding. I'll start building it."
CGI is so ridiculous now that they will digitally create things that we have. Example? Old people in movies. Old people! We have old people! For example, in Prometheus, Guy Pearce is CGI-ed into an old person. Why are we doing this?
"Hey, we need an old guy for this movie."
"All right, I'll just create one here on my iPhone."
"Create one? We'll just cast one."
"And have that terrible old person smell on the set? Like a Werther's died inside a rat? No way, man. iOldPerson."
"Good call. Remember shooting that movie with Christopher Plummer?"
"God. I was washing the smell out of my hair for weeks!"

Movies today don't look as good as they once did. Terminator 2. All that needs to be said. Anyone have any complaints with the special effects in Terminator 2? A movie made in 1991? Maybe the actual metal, working Terminator that the crew painstakingly made? Or the actual explosions that happened in it? Maybe the insane CGI with a liquid metal man who changes shape? Any of these a problem for anyone? Absolutely not! Terminator 2 could be put out today, exactly the way that it is, and people would love it. No one would complain that it didn't look like movies now.
"Whoa, whoa. Is that a REAL robot that people built for the set? Jesus Christ. What the hell did I spend money on?! I wanted fake! If I wanted real, I wouldn't have come into the theatre! I want something that looks like it was put together on an old Atari! Someone built that robot? Man, don't waste your time. Just put an R&B star in this and I'd be happy!"

Jurassic Park as well. It's hard to make Jurassic Park a better movie. And when it was called on for there to be dinosaurs in the movie, what did they do? They made dinosaurs! Made them!! They made that T-Rex! In 1993! Actual dinosaurs made out of actual things that you could see and touch. We are twenty years past that and we have dinosaurs in movies that look like they were made on 'Draw Something'.
"Whoa! That's a sweet Velociraptor! You ever think about making a movie with it?"
"Umm... no. I scratched that together on my phone for a game I was playing with you."
"But, man! I was really scared! I dropped my phone and everything. I thought a real Raptor was coming at me!"

With everything being computer-generated, special effects people must be out of business. The people who used to build sets, monsters, gore, and anything that was used in a movie? There's no reason for them to be around. Unless they are now the highest paid coffee-getters in the world.
"Hey, grab me a cappuccino."
"Ugh... you know I built the alien used in Alien?"
"Oh, man! Love that movie. The work you did on that creature was just magic. Now use some of that magic in the foam for my cappuccino. Also, you want to grab that seventeen-year-old a glazed donut? Try not to disturb him, though. He's hard at work on his computer making the special effects for this movie. He's a real genius."

The craziest part is that everything is computer-generated and the movies don't cost any less to make. Doesn't seem to be any cheaper at all. Everything is made on a computer and the movie still cost sixty-eight trillion dollars. How?! Where the hell is this money going?
"You know, I can make Transformers 4 on my iPad 2."
"Wow. How much will you charge?"
"Well, it'll take me a full week. Umm, ten million?"
"Done. I'll go ask the studio for three hundred and fifty million."
"Wow, that's a lot. Where's the rest going to go?"
"Are you serious? Abs! Every actor in the movie has to have an insane amount of abs. You think that comes cheap? The God of abs won't dish any out for less than two hundred million."
"...There's a God of abs?"
"Ah, scene-generating-computer guy. You have so much to learn. You probably think that actors get white teeth the old-fashioned way, and there's not a tooth gnome who will whiten your teeth for a truck of Little Debbie cookies. What a noob."

Why would they now make special effects worse? What is the point of this? Why! To not be so elitist and have movies only be made by moviemakers. Did we start to do things this way so that people wouldn't feel bad? So that now everyone can make a movie with only their phone and an afternoon?
"God, I'd love to make movies, but how the hell am I going to be able to blow up a helicopter? I don't have that kind of money and my movie is called "When A Helicopter Blows Up". I'm doomed!"
"No worries! Now you can blow up a helicopter on your phone!"
"...Really? You... you really mean it? And people will... respect me for it?"
"Respect you? People will blow you! You won't be able to walk down the street!"
"Oh, wow. Okay, well I'll get working on the script. I really only have the name right now, but I know I need a helicopter to blow up."
"Script? What the hell are you talking about? I just told you that you can make things blow up on your phone. Scripts be damned! When the writing gets bad, bring in another helicopter crash!"
"Man, you're right! Nothing but explosions! Words are overrated, anyway. BOOM!"

CGI is also really over used. There are tons of scenes in movies now where there are absolutely no humans around. None! Just computer generated humans. We see the star for a minute and then he is replaced by the scenes someone has created on a Steve Jobs machine. Not a real person for huge segments. We are just watching computers do what they do. Movies should start being marketed that way.
"This summer, an action movie with epic proportions. When a ninja is mistaken for a grocery store clerk and has to fight his way out of a chip aisle – things go to hell. This summer, "Ninja Chip Hell!" 'You Say Dorito, I say Akido'. Starring the newest Mac Air and a brief, brief, brief cameo by Bruce Willis."

With new special effects, for some reason, people have decided that the entire movie should be CGI. There are so many movies where actors are talking in front of a green screen. Actors aren't even talking to anyone! 
"I know. I can't believe that the king took all of our rubies either. What's he gonna do with i..."
"CUT! CUT! CUT! Where are you looking? The half-man-half-goat you are talking to is right here! You're looking towards the donut table, which is a drawbridge in the movie. Would your character be talking to a drawbridge? Huh? Would he?!"
"Look, I'm sorry, but can we get something better for me to act with other than a coffee cup? Like a box of Cheerios? Just something bigger. I'm supposed to be talking to a satyr. What about an actual goat? Can we get that? Or just draw a face on the cup. That would straighten this out. Just give me a face to look at!"
"Oh, you need a face to look at? What – you want to be an actual actor? Bad news for you, kid, you're twenty years too late. Talk to nothing!"

In the eighties and nineties, when something blew up, something was blown up! 
"We need to blow up a car!"
"Well, digitally compose it on a computer, render it in HD, and we'll put in the audio of the actors after!"
"It's 1989 and I have no damn idea what you're talking about."
"Oh, yeah, right... well, blow up a car!"

Twitter- @Nathanmacintosh
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