It’s a common misconception that the quality of a movie’s CGI comes down to its budget. While money plays an important role, CGI quality also depends on how good the effects artists are and how much time they have to work on it. However, it’s still jarring and surprising when movies with budgets upwards of $200 million have terrible CGI.
Between a digitally scrubbed-out mustache and CGI characters who look dead behind the eyes, Redditors have some hilarious but spot-on opinions about the effects in some of Hollywood’s biggest movies. Some movies even have worse CGI than films from decades earlier.
Updated on August 28, 2022 by Colin McCormick:
Though She-Hulk seems to be another well-received series from the MCU, there were initial criticisms of the show for some of the questionable CGI used. While these graphics have helped deliver some of the best movie moments of all time, there are plenty of examples in which big-budget projects somehow failed to put the money into the proper CGI, leading to some noticeable drops in quality.
Die Another Day (2002)
Bond movies are known for their big action sequences and as the franchise grew older the effects got better. But despite being the first Bond movie of the 21st century, it features an effects sequence that fans felt was dated even at the time.
The sequence features Bond windsurfing on a massive CGI wave and looking not very convincing. Some fans felt it looked like something out of a video game of the era, while one Redditor remembers “watching that in theaters as a kid and being shocked at how stupid the scene was.”
Harry Potter And The Sorcerer’s Stone (2001)
The Harry Potter movies captured the imagination of a generation of kids and took them into a magical world. But while the audience could get wrapped up in the adventures of Harry and his friends, some jarring CGI was just as memorable.
Though many fans admit that the franchise’s effects improved over time, they point to some sequences from the first movie including the centaurs and the Quidditch sequence as being particularly bad. Redditor DeliciousPangolin felt that “It looked bad even at the time, especially when you could compare with Gollum in the LotR movies.”
Blade II (2002)
While fans are eager to see Mahershala Ali step into the role of Blade in the MCU, the Wesley Snipes movies hold a special place in the hearts of fans. Guillermo Del Toro’s Blade II is often regarded as the best of the bunch but does feature a particularly unconvincing CGI fight scene.
The scene finds Blade facing off with ninja vampire. Despite the movie using a lot of practical effects elsewhere, the martial fight suddenly takes a turn and Redditor Roook36 points out that the fighters “move like cartoon characters when the CGI kicks in.”
Air Force One (1997)
Along with being a solid Die Hard ripoff, Air Force One is one of the best airplane movies, with Harrison Ford playing the President aboard his plane that has been taken over by terrorists. While the movie has great tense action throughout, many fans were let down by the CGI climax.
The sequence sees the titular airplane finally crashing into the ocean. Redditor Hammerheadhunter said that the scene’s bad effects were “a bad blemish on an otherwise great action thriller.”
Jurassic World (2015)
While the Jurassic World trilogy proved that fans would still turn up in huge numbers for this franchise, many felt the movies fell far short of the original. One of the main complaints was the overuse of bad CGI which paled in comparison to the effect and puppetry used in the 1993 movie.
One moment that seems to amplify this feel is the opening entry gate to the park which was redone as a CGI inclusion. Redditor Xenomorphasaurus went so far as to call it “an abomination and an insult to the original.”
The Matrix Reloaded (2003)
The Matrix Reloaded had a lot of hype surrounding it, as it was following one of the most revolutionary and influential action movies ever made. Reddit user Jsanchez157 thinks the movie didn’t live up to the hype, and that’s mostly down to the CGI. They posit that the “live-action movie turns into a cartoon when Neo fights 100 Agent Smiths.”
Though the movie did get a little too bogged down in its exposition and it relied too heavily on CGI in some instances, Reloaded is only bad when compared to its predecessor. And there are just as many scenes full of great CGI too, such as the epic, adrenaline-fueled chase scene on the highway.
The Mummy Returns (2001)
The Mummy Returns represents a simpler time in the world of blockbusters, as there were no cinematic universes, and there were still Indiana Jones-inspired adventure movies aimed at families being made. And The Mummy Returns follows up its predecessor with more of the same banter and excitement, but it also delves deeper into digital effects, and it experiments with the advancements in the area.
But that’s the nicest way of describing it, as an experiment, and Deja-Review simply refers to one of the movie’s most infamous technological misstep: “Scorpion King scene.” Like The Matrix Reloaded, the scene with the human-scorpion hybrid walking around looks like a video game cut scene, and a terribly-looking one at that.
Just because the character has feline instincts, it doesn’t mean she can move and bend in the way the effects team thinks she can. In Catwoman, it seems like every time Halle Berry jumps, she turns into a completely CGI rendering of the character.
TheVeryWorstLuck points out the 2004 movie as being one of the biggest offenders and not making any use of its giant budget in the effects department. The user simply reminds users that the movie “cost $100 million,” which is a shock considering the final result. The CGI is part of the reason why Catwoman is the worst DC movie ever.
X-Men Origins: Wolverine (2009)
It’s no secret that X-Men is the most uneven movie franchise, as the movies range from the worst superhero films ever made to groundbreaking masterpieces. Unfortunately, X-Men Origins: Wolverine is closer to the former, and Austinrose7 notes that the CGI is “offensively bad, almost like Fox was giving the middle finger to us.”
Though the movie’s screenplay could be forgiven because it was a result of the Writer’s Strike, there’s no such excuse for the special effects. The first X-Men movie, which was released nine years earlier, somehow has a better rendering of Wolverine’s claws than the 2009 movie does. Despite all the terrible things that happened to Wolverine throughout his history, this might have hurt the most.
The Justice League (2017)
There are a lot of problems with the theatrical release of The Justice League, and the CGI is no exception. Ummyeahok42 notes that “the CGI to cover Superman’s stache in the Justice League movie was pretty bad.” What the Redditor is referring to is what was infamously known as “mustache-gate.”
Henry Cavill was shooting Mission: Impossible – Fallout right after wrapping up The Justice League, and for the role, he had a huge slug of a mustache. But when doing reshoots for the DC movie, he wasn’t allowed to shave the stache due to contractual obligations. That led to a whole effects team scrubbing out Superman’s mustache in post-production, and the end result is shockingly unbelievable.
The Polar Express (2004)
The Polar Express is a unique movie, as it’s entirely CGI, and it was an impressive feat at the time. However, looking at it through a 2021 lens, some might wonder why it was such a groundbreaking movie in the first place. Coleslawslinger is the most critical of the Christmas movie’s special effects, as they simply say, “huge budget, worst CGI I’ve ever seen.”
The Polar Express was the first-ever all-digital capture film, and while there have been some great motion-capture movie characters in the past, the technology was perhaps too new for what The Polar Express was attempting to do. The biggest issue was with the CGI is the characters’ eyes, as they all look soulless and dead inside.
The Matrix Resurrections (2021)
Along with its predecessors, Redditors are just as critical of the newly released movie as they are of the first two sequels, if not more so. In a scathing admonition of The Matrix Resurrections’ effects, Reddit user pathofdumbasses claims that “the new Matrix movie somehow looks worse than the original Matrix from 20 years ago.”
Though a lot of the original trilogy’s CGI still holds up, the Redditor is being a little unfair. The CGI in the new film might not hold up against current movies like Spider-Man: No Way Home, but Ressurections‘ CGI is seamlessly composited into scenes full of spectacular practical effects. However, the movie’s biggest problem is that there are so many cuts that it’s hard to tell what’s going on, and all of the CGI doesn’t help.
Shane632 half-jokingly mentions that Aquaman “looks like an expensive Power Rangers episode.” The Redditor can only be referring to the Black Manta and the villain’s minions, who do actually have an uncanny resemblance to the multicolored kids’ heroes.
Though that’s more of a critique of the character designs, the CGI isn’t all that great either. Even Aquaman in his classic suit at the very end of the movie looked like it was painted on in Microsoft Paint. With the impending release of Aquaman: The Lost Kingdom, the studio and creative team have hopefully learned from the 2018 movie and have spent more time, money, and resources on perfecting the CGI.
It’s funny that the studio was expecting Cats to be a major awards contender. But in fairness, it could have been nominated for an Academy Award for its music, as that element of the film was truly great. However, the CGI and effects of the movie were so ghastly that it made every part of the film impossible to stomach. Miri_Cillibatch6 explains that, “as much as we suppressed this film, Cats has hands down the worst CGI on earth.”
With a cast including Idris Elba and Ian McKellen, Cats was a disappointing star-studded movie and its commercial flop made it even more embarrassing. However, the CGI wasn’t exactly bad, as it was actually very well done. It was just that it had such a terrible art direction, and compositing human faces onto the cats made the character designs that much creepier and uglier.
Black Panther (2018)
Black Panther has an incredible story, and it features an empowering superhero, as the King of Wakanda isn’t just a typical MCU jokester full of one-liners. King T’Challa actually stands for something, which is why the movie is so beloved. Unfortunately, the effects aren’t quite on the same level as the acting and screenplay. Mrbrionman notes that “it looks so bad, the CGI team had to have been short on time”
The Redditor makes a good point, as the quality of the CGI in a movie doesn’t always come down to the film’s budget, but how much time the digital effects teams have. Sometimes these teams can be under huge amounts of pressure and have a limited schedule, and it often results in sloppy effects like those in Black Panther.