Boiling Point: On CGI Snakes & Things

Boiling PointWhile I’ve talked about shitty CGI before, and countless others across the world of media have as well, there’s always time to take a few minutes and remind the world that CGI can often suck monster donkey balls. I’m not just talking in a made for TV SyFy kind of way either. Or a TV show stretching itself a little too thin. Or The Asylum.

I mean, sometimes CGI does make sense. It saves actual shooting time. If done correctly, you may even save some money. It can definitely let smaller films do bigger things. A practical Sharktopus would never be able to run around and populate a shitty movie. A CGI one can, and does. Horribly. But I’ll give it a grab.

Mainly my gripe today is big movies. Or movies with a budget. Movies that can take the time to use practical effects. Or pay for better CGI. Or just make smarter decisions because there are theoretically a lot of savvy and experienced people on board. I guess that means I’m still pretty naive when True Grit, the disappointing film that somehow garnered 10 Academy Award Nominations (Oscar loves some Coen shaft), takes the road most traveled by throwing in a few dozen CGI rattlesnakes that look like digital, wet spaghetti.

Let’s not make this an argument about the value of True Grit. Because you’re wrong if you think it’s a good movie. It’s pretty disappointing across the board with flat attempts at humor and little soul, failing as both a comedy and a western. But one thing we should all be able to agree on is that the CGI snakes sucked. They sucked bad. Was anyone else expecting Samuel L. Jackson to shout that he was tired of those mother fucking snakes in that mother fucking cave?

As computer models the snakes looked fine. They were detailed. They looked like rattlesnakes. Only problem was, they looked like digital rattlesnakes. Everything else in the frame was, you know, actually in the frame. On set. There were actors and articles of clothing and bits of wood and stuff. Then some wet spaghetti snakes. That looked good. But out of place. Because they weren’t there.

I would like to think at least at some point someone said “hey why don’t we get an animal wrangler and a few snakes and maybe a dummy snake or two?” I hope that at least happened. If it did, it was soon replaced with “Nah man, instead of just like one or two snakes what if we had like 15 snakes?” Because, you know, more snakes is better. Sharktopus is clearly better than Jaws because he is bigger and seen more and more in your face. Quantity and spectacle!

Bullshit. Come on. This is a Western, or it was supposed to be. If there is one place in this world CGI has no place, it’s in a Western. Snakes have been done before. Normal, real, good looking snakes. Used safely. And convincingly. Have we come so far that we can’t see what was good behind us?

Whether or not you liked the movie, can we agree that we didn’t need a dozen CGI snakes? CGI is fine for fantasy – we’ve never seen these things up close and personal. We have no idea what they would look like and we already have suspended disbelief. But in a movie that is supposed to be grounded in the real world, with objects we really see? Skip the CGI. Let’s get real. Real looks better. Fake plastic looks better than 0001011010010101010100100101. That’s binary, assholes. All I’m trying to say is CGI can really suck a fat one sometimes. It has no place in Westerns. Hollywood needs to take a page from the history books and go back to doing things the old fashioned way, the way that used to look great and still does. Rubber, plastic, sweat. Not computers. Every time I see some CGI glaringly out of place, I render myself past my boiling point.

Put that CGI snake back in your pants and go read more Boiling Point

Robert Fure is many things: horror expert, ruggedly handsome man of the world, witty prose composer, and writer of his own biography page. Beneath the bravado is a scared little boy, ready to grow into an awesome man and make lies about a scared little boy inside of him. Wait a minute...

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