In theory, CGI should never break your suspension of disbelief (unless you’re watching a Syfy Original or Birdemic, in which case it was never there in the first place). In practice, budgets get tight, time gets short, and even mega-blockbusters like Lords of the Rings or Harry Potter will have a couple of crappy looking scenes.
But sometimes movies that don’t even really need much CGI will toss it in for a short sequence, whether it’s just to show off, save money, or even to mask Bill the microphone guy’s fuck up. Inevitably, though, at least one of those scenes ends up looking like the production company outsourced the job to someone’s Nintendo 64. When big budget movies have bargain basement special effects, everyone wins. And by “everyone,” I mean “no one,” and by “wins,” I mean “is paying attention to the movie anymore because they’re too busy laughing.”
I’ve taken the liberty of considering this part 1 of a multi-part series, because I know that this is an endless well from which I can perpetually draw. In related news, I am lazy and uncreative.
The Mummy Returns
If you’ve ever watched 1999’s The Mummy and suddenly felt the urge to watch it again, you should probably slam your head in a car door for a while. After that, though, you can either hit the “repeat” button on your remote or you can pop in 2001’s The Mummy Returns and achieve a similar effect.
In the film’s climax, Brendan Fraser’s dashing explorer guy faces off with the evil mummy Imhotep. As they fight, however, they’re interrupted by The Scorpion King– a badly-rendered creature that looks like some kid tried to melt together a cheap, rubber scorpion and an action figure that looks vaguely like Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson. There are Ken dolls that look more lifelike than that thing.
One of Marvel’s early forays into sequel-madness, Blade II actually improves on the original in some ways. For example, there is 100% less Stephen Dorff. Also, it’s directed by Guillermo del Toro and that’s probably about 40% of the reason why you even know who he is today.
Early in the film, Blade is attacked by ninjas in his Gothic-industrial Batcave. And then as the battle nears its end, Wesley Snipes suddenly looks more cartoonish than he did in Demolition Man. What the hell? Did someone animate this with a flipbook? It looks like Gumby getting into in a sword-fight with a monster made out of licorice. I can only assume that the intent was to give movie-goers a sudden urge to hit the concessions stand and grab some Red Vines.
Freddy vs. Jason
2003’s Freddy vs. Jason was presumably created to show horror fans once and for all that, no, a Freddy and Jason mash-up would not be awesome. It’s as stupid as it sounds. In fact, you’ve watched it recently, there’s a good chance you can’t read this at all, as Freddy vs. Jason has been proven to regress literacy in adults and children. In fact, the above scene demonstrates that perfectly. Freddy transforms himself into some sort of caterpillar monster with the power of shitting out bongs. If you watch closely enough, you’ll forget that there were ever such things as “words” for a good twenty minutes.
But the stupidity of the scene aside, there’s the fact that the caterpillar Freddy opens the door and walks into the room, yet apparently decides that he’s incapable of doing the same in reverse. Instead, he seemingly rubs himself out of existence against the door while it shakes appreciatively. It looks like maybe they intended for him to go under the door but were incapable of picturing this how humans would and instead pieced it together from crayon-scribbled napkins they stole from a bum.
Air Force One
Harrison Ford is mighty presidential in Air Force One, which is appropriate because he plays a janitor in the film. (Note to editors: Please confirm. Also, does anyone even read these?) Basically, the President’s plane gets hijacked and Harrison Ford gets to say some cheesy lines and there’s a conspiracy and the only thing anyone actually remembers about the film (besides the aforementioned cheesy lines) is that Glenn Close is the Vice President.
And for the film’s big finale, we get to see an ocean plane crash as rendered by the graphics processor that they probably pulled out of a Tiger handheld game. It really makes you wonder why they couldn’t just toss a flaming Matchbox model of Air Force One into a kiddie pool. It couldn’t have looked worse or anything.
Meet Joe Black
Meet Joe Black is the heartwarming story of the handsomest grim reaper ever, played by Brad Pitt. It also includes an unintentionally hilarious scene where Brad Pitt tries to talk with a Jamaican patois. Hah, it’s like he thinks he’s people. But really, the whole thing you need to take away from the movie is it’s three hours long and if you cut two and a half hours out it’d still be boring as hell.
Oh, and also it includes one of the most egregious slaps-in-the-face to gravity to ever hit the silver screen. Observe as Brad Pitt’s nameless character (he doesn’t become Joe Black until after this scene) gets hit by a car and takes “ragdoll physics” to a whole new level.
Before the era of superhero movies that were actually watchable, there was Spawn. Now Spawn wasn’t entirely awful, just mostly awful. It’s a double shame when you hold it next to the HBO animated series based on the same comics, because that was actually really awesome. Sadly, even Michael Jai White couldn’t save this one.
And possibly the part where it’s the most obvious that this film is kind of just a big, shitty mess is in the Hell scenes, and that’s especially true when you look at the weird muppet-looking version of Malebolgia. I’ve seen Super Nintendo games that look better than most of what goes on in that scene. The worst part? The film was directed by an ex-ILM animator. That’s the equivalent of training as a concert pianist and then writing singles for Fred Durst.