OD'ing on CGI

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Opening weekends for movies are generally not my thing. But I made an exception this weekend because Gretchen and I were both anxious to see the new movie about Freddie Mercury and Queen called Bohemian Rhapsody.

This is not a review of that movie - all I can say is that it was fantastic. Go see it. (Lots of people did during its first weekend; it was #1 at the box office with $50 million.)

There was an interesting contrast that stood out to me, however. Before the movie started we were subjected to the usual 20 minutes of trailers, those clips of upcoming releases that pretty much show you the entire movie. I swear one of them revealed what seemed like a gigantic spoiler.

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But almost every trailer presented an upcoming film that appears to be almost entirely based on computer-generated imagery, commonly known as CGI. Yes, there were a few human actors strolling around amidst the artificial wonderlands, offering quick witticisms and threats of violence. Otherwise it was one mind-blasting visual effect after another, bam bam bam.

Then we sat and watched a movie about real people speaking real dialogue and displaying real emotions. They actually acted, and did so splendidly.

Yeah, I’m sure the producers of Bohemian Rhapsody threw in a little CGI of crowd scenes for the concerts, but that can’t be considered the same thing as a giant CGI robot crashing through six blocks of a CGI city.

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Two weeks ago Gretchen and I watched First Man, a film that probably used some CGI to create the Apollo launch scenes and the moon landing. But those were real scenes from history being recreated. And that movie also tugged at your emotions with its real dialogue.

Listen, I’m not trying to change anything, and I don’t wanna come across as some crusty old fart who longs for the good ol’ days. I don’t. Yes, I’ve heard the countless excuses of “I need an escape and these CGI movies provide it.” Okay, fine. You certainly have plenty to choose from. Go get your fix of crashes and explosions.

But put me in the camp of people who have little use for the overkill of CGI to create mind candy like Overlord, Fantastic Beasts, and Mortal Engines, all coming out soon. Give me more real performances and solid stories I can engage with.

This post is simply a thank you to the handful of Hollywood producers and writers who continue to provide some of us with depth and human feeling.

Real stories and real dialogue aren’t dead yet.

Dom Testa11 Comments