Get with the times

Sometimes I can’t help but listen in on a conversation between a few “cavemen” who have an intense hatred for a little something called CGI (computer-generated imagery). I shake my head in disgust as these men from the Stone Age discuss the horrors of special effects and how they’ve ruined the film industry. As they pick apart the prequel trilogy of “Star Wars” and movies with the likes of “Transformers” and “Avatar” for their overuse of special effects, I hold back the urge to call out these neanderthals only because I fear that they may beat me with sticks. However, from the safety of my computer desk, I will finally address these troglodytes and hopefully kick-start their evolution into intelligent, CGI-accepting Homo sapiens.

First things first; the fact that these cro-magnons hate CGI is not necessarily the reason why they annoy me. What really makes me pull my hair out is how these people act as if CGI and special effects have popped out of nowhere within the last five years or so, when in reality, it’s been used for decades. Just use the original “Star Wars” as an example. The film came out in 1977 and the CGI was deemed “groundbreaking” and “innovative,” even though at times it was campy and ridiculous. I think this is comparable to man’s discovery of fire; it was cutting-edge at first, but it now vilified because of the abundance of new uses, and in the case of CGI, the rapid increase in usage.

Of course these special effects may be threatening to these feeble-minded curmudgeons, which may explain why they are quick to shun movies that “overuse” CGI. They blame the poor quality of episodes one, two, and three of “Star Wars” on George Lucas’ love of CGI, when the stories were what really brought down those movies. CGI didn’t make “Attack of the Clones” a romantic snoozefest. The only thing you can blame CGI for is Jar Jar Binks.

“Avatar” is a different story. The movie has been praised endlessly and is even the highest grossing movie of all-time, but when you look up “overuse of CGI” in the thesaurus, “Avatar” will likely be under the list of synonyms. Why this movie isn’t shunned, I’ll never know, but just about everything from “Avatar” is in some way computer generated. Heck, I wouldn’t be surprised if Sam Worthington’s body was all smoke and mirrors.

I don’t know, maybe I’m just too hard on these primitive humans. After all, I’m a bit biased when it comes to special effects. My uncle, Tim Brakensiek (look him up on IMDB), works for Industrial Light & Magic, which is a special effects company that has helped with movies such as “The Avengers” and “Pirates of the Caribbean.” It is for this reason alone that I have respect for the digital artists who work long, hard hours to put together a visually stunning film, which, by the way, is a huge positive when it comes to CGI. It creates an experience like none other and adds so much more to the movie experience.

Unfortunately, our cavemen friends can’t fathom the beauty that comes with CGI. They gather around in their cave dwelling, speaking in grunts of the evils of special effects, when the only bad thing that thing to come out of CGI is the reworked ending to “Return of the Jedi” that features the out of place Hayden Christensen. But please, blame George Lucas for that.