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Are Special Effects, Special Anymore ?

Special effects have always been a major part of movies right back to the early days of Buster Keaton and Charlie Chaplin. The effect those effects must have had on the audiences then must have been quite amazing, must have looked to them like magic, but are we as impressed nowadays by special effects, do we even think they are special anymore?

It could be argued quite convincingly that they are not anymore, for example I take Godzilla, a movie with a huge effects budget, but the effects were not used in a special way at all. Yes a huge amount of effort was put into making Godzilla look as realistic as possible, but should this have been the point to the effects?

Do we really go to the movies to watch a realistic creature, for the type of movie Godzilla was trying to be, should the creature not have been made as exciting as possible? Could this be because Godzilla was computer animated and the technicians while technically getting everything correct, such as the way it swam or walked, were unable to make the creature exciting?

Also for example I take Star Wars Episiode One : The Phantom Menace and a certain Jar Jar Binks. Now I am not here to criticise Jar Jar Binks as such but I am sure you will agree with me after 5 minutes of watching him on screen that you completely forget that it is a CGI created creature? I know I did, OK, about this point did he not start to annoy the hell out of a large chunk of the audience. But the fact remains it wasnt the effects you remembered about Jar Jar it was other things.

Does this not also add weight to the argument that special effects are no longer special? Before I show the other side of the argument it might be an idea to say why I feel special effects should be special.

Should they not make you go "ooh, look at that!", not "what a work that took, thats very clever". The words say it all really don't they - SPECIAL EFFECTS. Maybe we live in an age where there is nothing new and everything has been done, personally I dont think so and it would be a shame if we were as blase as that about things.

For the other side of the argument I will use The Matrix as example. Why The Matrix as example? well one scene to be honest, the scene in the lobby where Keanu and Carrie Ann-Moss enter the building and walk the walls and masonry is destroyed everywhere.

Yes, special effects were used here but were they not used in such a way that instead of simply portraying the action realistically, the directors used the tools, to express the scene as they wanted it expressed with a large amount of style. Who could ever have said they had seen masonry destroyed in slo-mow before and it being stylish?

Overall the point I am trying to make is it is not enough just to spend a fortune on the effects budget. The Director must use the effects as a tool to express what they want to say in an artistic sense.

Tall Guy


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