If a film script requires a ruddy great dragon or giant space station, then computer effects are obviously the best way to go.
Since CGI became possible and affordable for movie studios in the late 1980s though, it’s also been used for the most random and minor reasons.
From groin bulge reduction to making water more… watery, these are the special effects the world could have lived without.
Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas
Tobey Maguire’s contract demanded $15,000 to shave his head in this small role, so director Terry Gilliam opted for a bald cap and CGI instead. In the end, it was more expensive.
Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull
The trailer for the 2008 Indy reboot was deceptively decent; there were car chases, exploding warehouses, angry Russians and lots of guns. Too many, in fact. The Motion Picture Association of America (MPAA) doesn’t allow guns to be directly pointed at a person in its “green band” (i.e. ‘Suitable for all’) trailers. Rather than use a different clip, the studio turned to computer boffins, who lowered all the weapons and gave Ray Winstone a weird-looking new jacket.
As well as keeping his agent busy, one of Nicolas Cage’s pastimes is staying in shape. Unfortunately the then 42-year-old wasn’t shapely enough for this daft comic adaptation; producers made his abs bigger in post-production.
One thing 1995’s ‘Waterworld’ has lots of, apart from script issues, is water. Apparently not enough though. CGI blue stuff was bafflingly added to fill out backdrops and improve splashes.
Despite the medieval comedy featuring more than its fair share of less-than-subtle innuendo, when marketing the R-rated movie to audiences too young to see it anyway, Natalie Portman’s derriere was deemed too cheeky for the “green band” trailer. Digitally shape-shifting the star’s thong solved that problem.
When reviewing the heartbreaking phone-call scene at the end of ‘Blood Diamond,’ it was decided Jennifer Connelly just wasn’t distressed enough. The CGI team sliced up a few digital onions and added tears to her face.
The Man of Steel has it all: super strength, ability to fly, x-ray vision… and a distracting bulge. Or at least that’s what studio bosses decided whilst filming the 2006 series reboot. Fearing it might affect younger audiences as well as toy sales, actor Brandon Routh suffered some digital reduction surgery.
Star Wars: Episode VI – Return of the Jedi
If anyone loves CGI, its George Lucas, who tinkered with his classic space yarn several times. For the 2004 DVD re-release of the original ‘Star Wars’ trilogy nothing was sacred… even eyebrows. In the scene where Luke unmasks his dying father at the end of ‘Return of The Jedi’, Darth Vader actor Sebastian Shaw had his eyebrows removed to match Hayden Christensen’s burns injuries in ‘Revenge of the Sith.’
The Twilight Saga: Breaking Dawn - Part 2
When Edward and Bella first unleashed baby Renesmee into the world, not only was she a vampire-human hybrid (or dhampir), she wasn’t even real. Rather than accept that most babies change as they grow up, producers created an “uncanny-valley CGI moppet” - as the Guardian’s Peter Bradshaw called it; an awful attempt at reproducing child actor Mackenzie Foy’s face.
E.T. the Extra-Terrestrial
When a 20th anniversary special edition of ‘E.T.’ was released in 2002, CGI was used to make alterations to the original that had bothered Steven Spielberg since 1982. These included the spaceship designs and E.T. himself, but more controversially he also removed shotguns from FBI agents chasing the escaping Elliot and replaced them with walkie-talkies. Apparently he did it at the behest of parent groups, but backtracked in time for the 30th anniversary Blu-ray release this year.