Top 10 Worst CGI Effects of the Century (So Far)
VOICE OVER: Ryan Wild
WRITTEN BY: Andy Hammersmith
Nothing ruins a scene like bad CGI! For this list, we'll be looking at the least convincing uses of computer-generated imagery in the 21st century. Our countdown includes scenes from "Black Panther", "Green Lantern", "Cats" and more!
Welcome to WatchMojo, and today we’re counting down our picks for the Top 10 Worst CGI Effects of the Century So Far. For this list, we’ll be looking at the least convincing uses of computer-generated imagery in the 21st century. This list includes films with dated, cringey, or completely baffling special effects.Did we forget a major contender for this list? Let us know in the comments below.
#10: Train Fight
“Black Panther” (2018)
“Black Panther” shattered records and broke barriers. But while the Marvel movie features a large amount of CGI, this particular scene seems to be especially lacking. As T'Challa and Killmonger fight each other on the underground track, the climactic moment doesn't have the same impact without a real set. Both characters throw punches and dodge the oncoming danger, but the final result feels like a minor misstep in an otherwise successful film. If there was a real train or at real tracks, there would be a more tangible sense that this wasn't all happening thanks to post-production wizardry. The fact that a major character receives a mortal wound in this part is ultimately undercut by the surrounding scenery.
#9: Snake Attack
“Anaconda 3: Offspring” (2008)
Nobody expected much from a sequel in the “Anaconda” series, but then again advances in technology should've greatly helped this film. The titular creature pounces on its victims in scenes that make you wonder if the effects were completely finished. Whether it's crushing a victim or delivering a surprise attack, the anaconda never looks like anything more than an animation student’s rough draft. Combining half-baked cinematography and CGI, the whole process of bringing the snake to life misses the mark. Other movies have real snakes or better budgets, but this foray into the horror genre trudges ahead with a slithering villain that doesn't quite cut it.
#8: Surfing a Tsunami
“Die Another Day” (2002)
James Bond is an adventurous man, but this entire sequence might be the least believable moment of his spy career. “Die Another Day” pits him against a maniacal villain that can melt Icelandic glaciers with a satellite. The result creates a less-than-realistic wave that Bond ends up riding with a makeshift kitesurfing rig. Defying the laws of physics, the secret agent cheats death on a rush of water that doesn't resemble anything more than a green screen creation. Pierce Brosnan looks like a complete alien in the fake landscape, as if he's trapped inside a computer far away from the frozen setting.
#7: The Freddy Caterpillar
“Freddy vs. Jason” (2003)
“Freddy vs. Jason” is a film centered on one very literal mashup between two horror icons. It also contains some insane kills, including one that happens to the hapless stoner character Bill. Nightmarish villain Freddy emerges during a smoking session as a caterpillar-like bug, joining his scene partner with a hookah pipe. The slimy creation is so out of place and strange-looking that even a humorous sequence can't quite justify it. After a hilarious entrance, the evil figure defies all explanation as it subdues Bill. Sticking out like a sore thumb, this particular piece of CGI is outlandish even for the likes of a hacky horror movie.
“Star Wars: Episode II - Attack of the Clones” (2002)
Frank Oz provided the voice and/or puppeteering for the character of Yoda in the original “Star Wars” trilogy and in subsequent adventures. For the second film in the prequel series, director George Lucas shifts the character into a completely computer-generated space. Once you see the new Yoda, you wish you could have the puppet back no matter how out of date it would’ve looked. His fight with the Sith lord Count Dooku is an especially entertaining, if less than believable, lightsaber fight. Yoda leaps around with reflexes that the special effects can barely articulate with any effectiveness.
#5: The Thing
“The Thing” (2011)
This classic sci-fi story has seen many different iterations, from the 50s “The Thing from Another World” to the classic 80s film. This prequel of the latter movie didn't receive high marks for its attempt at replicating John Carpenter's formula for success. Considering that the bulk of “The Thing” revolves around its central antagonist taking over humans, it also relies too much on artificial trickery to show off the parasitic villain. Many mutations and skin-morphing sequences fail to scare audiences in the same way that practical makeup does. The revelation that the effects are computerized makes the entire experience less satisfying than its inspirations.
#4: Parallax vs. Green Lantern
“Green Lantern” (2011)
Many people, including Ryan Reynolds, would probably like to forget about “Green Lantern.” His performance as Hal Jordan was totally fine, but the surrounding film was a mostly lackluster CGI fest. Jordan's climactic battle with the evil entity Parallax is a showcase for the movie's overreliance on computers. From the lighting to the otherworldly powers, the battle is hard to take seriously without any substantial or convincing effects. The mix of the Green Lantern ring powers and the shadowy alien monster obscures most of the action rather than highlighting it. This isn't the only noticeable misuse of CGI in the superhero flick, as the suit itself stands out as an overblown and all-too-shiny costume.
#3: Cat Effects
Some of the effects in the big screen adaptation of “Cats” are more frightening than any horror film. Giving the actors anthropomorphic cat bodies, this movie makes several startling choices in trying to capture the fantastical elements of the original musical. The result is a bizarre mix of CGI that makes stars like Taylor Swift and James Corden seem somewhat out of place. From the characters' questionable size to their cat-like movements, the special effects raise more questions than they answer. It's hard to believe that an Oscar-winning director was responsible for its creation. While it became fashionable to dunk on this disaster, the finished product needs to be seen to be believed.
“Birdemic: Shock and Terror” (2010)
Along with questionable acting and direction, “Birdemic: Shock and Terror” is a true head scratcher in every possible way. The CGI effects are so blatantly unbelievable that you'll likely laugh before you even consider being scared. As far as Hitchcock rip-offs go, this particular attempt at an avian attack never gets off the ground like its 60s predecessor. There's also no mistaking these winged creatures for actual birds at any point. Performers run and defend themselves against the flying creatures, but the attack scenes always feel overlong and preposterous. Through its aggressively bad usage of CGI, “Birdemic” earns its title as one of the most mocked films of the 21st century.
#1: The Scorpion King
“The Mummy Returns” (2001)
By the time that The Rock reaches his final form in the climax of “The Mummy Returns,” his character of The Scorpion King leaves much to be desired. The end battle between him and Brendan Fraser's hero is entertaining for all of the wrong reasons. As the mythical villain, Dwayne Johnson's likeness is part of a computer-generated model that isn't exactly a mirror image. The addition of some cringe-worthy slow-motion brings an additional clumsiness to the sequence. In the film's attempts to bring together a complex and choreographed battle, the actual scene comes down to some truly dated effects.