Inception, Iron Man 2 and Alice in Wonderland are amongst the films vying for Oscars glory in this year's visual effects category and rightly deserve their place on the illustrious shortlist. Few have been able to master the sophisticated art of blending CGI with real-life action as the following films quite aptly illustrate.
See below for our pick of the worst CGI effects ever
Superman IV: The Quest for Peace (1987)
Was it the outer-space fight with Nuclear Man that clearly took place on a glass table? The stunt wires visible in several frames as the duo battled? Or the black curtains billowing in the distance as the duo slugged it out on the Moon? The last of the Christopher Reeve Supermans even tried to pass off Milton Keynes as New York for the purposes of the film. According to T3’s MK resident Adam Bunker, the new town “has a futuristic train station,” so fair enough.
Star Trek V: The Final Frontier (1989)
Not many people have seen this entry in the Trek canon. That’s a shame as it really has to be seen to be believed. The effects would have been rejected as too sketchy even for the original Star Trek TV series, with a particular high point being a scene where an aged William Shatner is pursued up a mountain by the head of God, who is trying to kill The Shat by shooting laser beams from his eyes.
Star Wars (1997 Re-release)
George Lucas just can’t resist tinkering, can he? In Return of the Jedi, Jabba the Hut is played ably by an animatronic puppet. But Lucas decided to “enhance” his reissue of the first film by inserting the slimy crime boss into A New Hope as an absolutely rubbish, computer-generated blob. In the same re-edit he altered Han’s stand-off with Greedo to make it appear that he did not shoot first, infuriating generations of Wars fans.
Deep Blue Sea (1999)
A perennial habituée of “worst ever” lists since its release, Deep Blue Sea also takes the dubious honour of making Stephen Spielberg’s legendarily malfunctioning “great white turd” Jaws robot of 25 years previous look realistic. Despite increased brain capacity, which somehow allowed them to swim backwards, the sharks still looked more like 16-bit Ecco the Dolphins than silent killers of the deep.
The Lord of The RIngs (2002-2004)
It might seem odd to knock a film series that won the Best Visual Effects Oscar three years in a row, but some of Legolas’ antics in particular really take the elven biscuit. Even Superman versus Nuclear Man looked more real than the drop and roll from the cave troll during Fellowship and don’t even get us started on the giant war elephant takedown in Return of the King.
The MatrIx Reloaded (2003)
The “burly brawl” pitting Neo against a legion of Agent Smiths initially impresses. However, the scene then switches to something resembling a video game cut scene as Neo takes out the Smiths by spinning around on a metal pole while the camera swirls around him like an angry hornet. There were plenty of things to hate about that movie, but this might be “the one”.
You won’t like him when he’s angry. But you’ll like him even less when he’s 25 feet tall, has an almost glow-in-the-dark hue and looks like he’s been sculpted from silly putty. Frank Miller and Robert Rodriguez’s Sin City showed you could recreate the visual style of a comic on celluloid. By contrast, Ang Lee’s CGI interpretation of the Incredible one was so bad, he’d have been better off just dipping Sly Stallone in green snot and getting on with it.
Van Helsing (2004)
A movie so stupid it makes The Mummy films that it closely resembles look like The Third Man, Van Helsing is two hours of things exploding and people jumping through panes of glass. Seriously, every five minutes or so, something explodes or someone jumps through a pane of glass. As a result, one becomes all-too-painfully aware of the limitations of CGI circa 2004 when it came to explosions and the shattering of glass.
CharlIe and the Chocolate Factory (2005)
When Tim Burton decided to remake the Roald Dahl classic there was grounds for optimism. A dark and mysterious, Edward Scissorhands-style envisioning of Willy Wonka’s workplace could have been amazing. Instead we got a woeful, computer generated world where Willy looks like Michael Jackson and all the oompa loompas are played by one bloke. This supposed golden ticket slammed the door on Burton’s golden period.
Despite über-cretin Michael Bay’s presence as director, we were excited about seeing Optimus Prime transform from robot to truck in full live-action glory. Prime’s CGI incarnation had no fewer than 10,108 moving pieces, so it could have been the ultimate spectacle. However, Bay in his wisdom decreed that the Robots in Disguise would transform so fast that no-one could actually see ILM’s incredible work. Clever.
Indiana Jones and The Kingdom of the Crystal Skull (2008)
Indy had got along just fine without computer “wizardry” until Spielberg and Lucas’ 2008 reboot. The withered duo promised there’d be no excessive CGI, so the movie would fit in with the rest of the series. So what the hell was the alien spaceship about? And the digital jungle? And the computer generated explosions? At screenings throughout the world, children turned to their parents, eyes glistening with tears, to ask, “Why did they lie, mummy? Why?”