Did Jurassic World not deliver the T-Rex sized thrills the 1993 original once did? Still mulling over what to make of Marvel’s latest Avengers romp? Generally a bit underwhelmed by blockbusters being awash with CGI effects?
Well you’re not alone, and according to YouTube ciniphiles StoryBrain, it’s not just down to nostalgia either – there's actually something far deeper than that at play.
Twenty years ago, filmmakers would superimpose a CGI on a real scene, albeit with limited scope over what they could do. This effect lasted up until around 2004 when software passed the point where production teams could amalgamate individual CGI objects with fully rendered computer-generated backgrounds. Dubbed the WETA effect (after the studio that pioneered it), that basically allowed Avatar’s oversized surfs to run up trees without James Cameron needing to pick up a camera, theoretically speaking.
StoryBrain also claims that this is why many of the big scenes in last decade’s blockbusters can feel a bit blasé. Or why watching some action scenes can feel a bit like watching cut-scenes from a video game. To fully enjoy a film you need to suspend your disbelief, or else it gets blunted, then deep down, as you watch these scenes, a misunderstanding is occurring about the way your brain processes the images. In short: without a human element, or at least one stood behind a camera, you become apathetic to the story.
Believe it or not, backgrounds more than the main characters themselves have the ability to decide how realistic these films can be – well unless it’s Howard The Duck. Check out the example of 2003’s Hulk and its 2008 predecessor for proof of this. Spliced alongside each other to highlight the chasm in detail, it works in favour for the blander, earlier one if anything.
Which begs the question: did scriptwriters get lazy or was it the filmmakers?
We should point out, for balance, it is worth checking out this piece which argues that StoryBrain has no idea what its talking about. Either way, it's certainly provided food for thought.
Let us know your thoughts below.