T2 and Jurassic Park set the bar for CGI. Then the Matrix and Avatar raised special effects for the 21st century. Special effects have gotten better with photo-realistic images and worlds that look real. People couldn’t wait to see what new effects Hollywood would do next.
Something happened along the way. CGI has gotten worse. Black Panther, IT chapter 2, and Avengers Endgame are examples of big-budget movies with B grade effects. How did we go from James Cameron breaking new ground with Avatar, to IT chapter 2 looking like it was made for a buck twenty-five? Let’s find out.
Movies are on a tight release schedule. It’s difficult to get all the effects done on time. The problem could be solved if the studios would delay the movie. They won’t do that. They know the investors will be upset if they don’t meet their deadlines. However, they will upset them if the movie flops because of the effects. It’s better to delay the movie so it can deliver.
Lack of understanding
A lot of effect artists don’t understand what makes CGI look great. You can have detailed models, but if the image doesn’t fit with the lighting, backgrounds, and textures, it will look off. Look at Endgame. Some of the effects looked phony because the images didn’t fit with the look of the movie. Paying attention to details can make a difference between good effects or bad.
Look at American Werewolf in Paris. The werewolf transformation looked phony. Whereas, the original American Werewolf in London transformation looked amazing. John Landis made the ware wolf transformation look painful. We were taken through the process of David turning into a werewolf. Sometimes less is more. The effect doesn’t have to be smooth to work.
How to fix the problem Give artists more time. Teach them what makes effects work. James Cameron is taking four years to make the Avatar sequels. That’s dedication and a commitment to quality. He delayed them to get it right. With big-budget movies, there’s no excuse why effects can’t look professional. Black Panther and IT Chapter 2 are reaching parody levels. With all the resources and money Hollywood has, there’s no excuse. One bad effect? OK. Throughout the whole movie? That’s inexcusable.
Thor, Captain Marvel, The Hulk and Wonder Woman. These are great characters, but let’s be honest, how many of us can identify with them? Are any of us Thunder Gods? I highly doubt it, although I do get the feeling I can manipulate lighting sometimes (JK). These characters are great, do not get me wrong, but I do miss the days of Jake Sully, Sarah Connor, Ellen Ripley and Indiana Jones. We had regular people who went through extraordinary situations and we felt like we were along the ride. We could be the teacher who went globe trotting, or a waitress whose son would be the savior of mankind.
Why don’t Hollywood give us more characters we can relate to?
A little variety never hurts and too many heroes are out of reach now. We will never be them, nor can we relate to them. They are fun characters to watch, but Hollywood is doing too many white color Gods who don’t show a real struggle. We know that these characters will over come their predicament. There is no suspense to this. Have audiences been trained by superhero movies to see nothing but God-like heroes who will perform super human strengths that they can’t relate to, but they love to see kick bad people butt. Is the blue collar hero dead? What it comes down to is how much money super hero movies make, but don’t forget that Avatar is the biggest box office hit of all time and Jake Sully didn’t have super powers.
A New Generation
There is some good news, it seems like some movies are making characters who we can relate to. Take Tim for instance, the main hero in the new movie Detective Pikachu. He is just a college kid. That’s it, his only ability is he can talk to Pikachu (which isn’t know why, but we will find out when the movie opens). How many people can identify with going to school and trying to make your way into the world? Loosing a parent or not knowing where someone is? Those are very relatable situations, so when Tim is hurting, we can relate and it makes the pain more real to us. We feel what Tim is feeling.
Madison in the new Godzilla King of the Monsters is another example. She is just a sweet kid who is fascinated with monsters, (how many kids can relate to that)? She has trouble communicating and relating to her mom. Those are real struggles, and it helps when you have a character you can identify with. I am not saying every character has to be like this, but a little variety Hollywood goes a long way.
We are seeing less blue collar heroes right now, but as with all things, everything comes full circle and having characters like Tim and Madison is a good start. It is great to see ordinary people who we can relate to overcome relatable problems. There is a time and place for super human characters performing super human feets of strength, but there is also a place for regular people who can overcome relatable problems as well. All things in moderation Hollywood, that will make everyone happy.
In the 21st century, Japanamation (or Japanese Anime), has exploded in popularity. Names like Miyazaki, Hosoda and Shinkai mean as much to animated fans as Pixar does. What is causing this? Let’s take a look!
Anime has a distinct style that allows bigger facial expressions and over the top humor that wouldn’t work with western style animation. This can lead to bigger for audiences and it can convey different story telling methods to the audience.
The Forgotton Hollywood Category, Drama.
Let’s face it, Hollywood don’t do good dramas anymore. Some independent movies can do it well, but big budget dramas are almost dead. In Anime though, it’s alive and well. You feel the pain the characters do, movies like Kiki’s Delivery Service, Your Name and Ponyo will have you in tears when they feel pain, and cheering when they are happy. Drama when it’s done right can be so rewarding.
Aren’t you tired of cynical movies? Don’t you want movies with real heart and sincere emotions? You get that a lot in anime. Wolf Children is a great example of a loving family who works to stay together and you really know that the family loves each other. It is real and the characters don’t wink at you to let you know it’s a game. This makes you more invested in the story and the characters.
When you turn on TV or go to You Tube, you can come across so much harsh reality. We all need to deal with it, but too much can bring you down. Watch a sweethearted anime movie. You can see relatable characters overcome obstacles and hardships. You’ll see lots of gentle stories like the Secret World of Arrietty. What a sweet story about a loving family who happen to be small and how they deal with it. You’ll feel so good after you watch it. Forget your problems for over 2 hours and enjoy. There are other movies like The Girl Who Leapt Through Time and Ponyo that will make you feel great after watching them.
Oh the things you can do with animation. Spirited Away is a great example of this. You’ll see creatures you’ve never seen before and a world that will make your sensors go wild. Howl’s Moving Castle and My Neighbor Totoro are packed with imaginative images that will fill your mind with gorgeous colors, character designs and weird creatures which will blow your mind. You’ll feel like you are on cloud nine seeing all of these incredible images.
Anime has a lot of different sub-categories. Some are wild sci-fi, sexy, some are dark and some are wonderful family movies. You don’t get a lot of adult animation in the west (adult swim used to, but not now), anime knows there are fans who crave adult animation. Vampire Hunter D, Death Note and Akira are great adult animes that are smart, dark and edgy for older . Then you got cute and wholesome animes like The Castle in the Sky and Summer Wars that are great for the whole family.
No matter how wild the images or creatures, anime gives you very relatable characters. Taki and Mitsuha from Your Name, are typical college kids who are trying their best to get by. Working jobs, going to school and trying to balance their home life. Who can’t relate to that? Even though there is a sci-fi element, the movie never forgets to give us characters we can relate to and care about. Wolf Children is another great example of this. Hana, Yuki and Ame are a typical family. Yuki is a regular housewife who is trying her best to raise her kids on her own. This makes the drama real and we feel for them when something happens. No matter how outrageous the story.
Remember when Disney did movies like Aladdin, the Little Mermaid and the Lion King? Nearly all western animated movies are CGI now. Don’t get wrong, I love CGI, but there is something about hand drawn animation that is appealing. The colors are brighter, the textures pop and there is a quiet charm about it. Princess Mononoki, Your Name and A Silent Voice can stun you with beauty in ways CGI can’t. The gorgeous colors that will make your eyes do somersaults and the fluid movement that will cause your brain to work overtime. Hollywood has forgotten that a lot of people still prefer hand drawn animation to CGI. Anime is one of the few places where someone can get that nowadays.
For all of the reasons above, Japanese Anime is gathering a huge following in western Countries now. It isn’t just movies or tv shows either. Video games as well are showing a growing interest in anime. Games like Persona 5 and Xenoblade Chronicles 2 both have sold over 2 million copies. America is taking notice. JJ Abrams is remaking Your Name, (please let it turn out to be good), and stores like Walmart are carrying more anime. This is great! If you haven’t checked out anime, do yourself a favor and check some out. There is something for everyone. Long live Anime!