The Problems With Computer Generated Images

While the credits rolled up the screen and the epic music roared in our ears, we shuffled out of the theatre. Rotten tomatoes, my favourite movie review site had given the sci/fi a solid 75% which was actually pretty good, hence our presence in the crowd.

I was struck by the computer-generated images during the movie. It was as if the producers were saying “Look what we can do now, and we can also do this… and THIS!” I yet again wondered how in this galaxy were we going to top what I just saw….. Buuuuut, that was the first and last thought I had of the movie. The adrenaline rush subsided quickly as it would have after a roller coaster ride, and there I was discussing what groceries we needed to pick up on the way home.

Seriously, am I the only one who feels cheated when I’m not rehashing the plot’s twists and turns, mourning that I won’t see my beloved characters until movies 2 and 3, or marveling at how the screen writer caused us to have a closer look at our own lives?


 

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It just so happened that I recently went to another movie called Ex_Machina that delivered on all the above. It had received a 92% from Rotten Tomatoes and I figured that deserved another try.

Well, it was well worth the admission, popcorn, drink, and my Kit Kat bites. Here is the summary:

Caleb Smith (Domhnall Gleeson), a programmer at an internet-search giant, wins a competition to spend a week at the private mountain estate of the company’s brilliant and reclusive CEO, Nathan Bateman (Oscar Isaac). Upon his arrival, Caleb learns that Nathan has chosen him to be the human component in a Turing Test-charging him with evaluating the capabilities, and ultimately the consciousness, of Nathan’s latest experiment in artificial intelligence. That experiment is Ava (Alicia Vikander), a breathtaking A.I. whose emotional intelligence proves more sophisticated–and more deceptive–than the two men could have imagined.

The movie had me guessing all the way through, and had me more or less stumped. Which is what I love! It reminded me of my all time favourite old classic, The Sting where the audience was stung, not the actors. The CGI was present, but was only there as background effects for the story. The movie was intelligent and thought provoking and I’m still rehashing the plot when I wake up at night. And best yet, there were only 3 main characters, jostling for dominance.

The movie brought forth the question of responsibility when creating artificial intelligence, and sparked a host of interesting discussions at home. Now don’t get me wrong, I can be entertained with some impressive effects, but to be truly worth my time, I need more than that.

CGI has become an impressive tool in the movie-makers’ hands, but sometimes at the cost of good old fashioned character development, interesting plots and thought provoking themes.

Now its your turn. What are your thoughts on CGI?

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10 thoughts on “The Problems With Computer Generated Images

  1. Back in the day when I watched TV, it seemed a lot of made-for-TV movies were all special effects and no plot. As with books, I can forgive a lot as long as the story is good. Great story, great movie.

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  2. I remember reading an interview when the first Thor movie came out and there was a picture of the actors in costume. They quoted Anthony Hopkins as saying, “it looks like we won’t have to act now.” That meant that the costumes would make the audience think they were Asgardians without having to act like Norse Gods. Special effects do not a movie make and there have been plenty of financial failures to prove it.

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    • That’s an awesome quote! It’s truly amazing to me how much is spent on special effects when they missed out on first nailing down very basic requirements for a good movie…

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  3. Character and story . . . without that, the CGI is wasted. Ideally the movie has all three.

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