Do you remember when movie special effects used to drive the story? Back when Dinosaurs, Aliens, and Megan Fox (yeah, tell me she’s not a special effect) kept us riveted to our seats for hours? However, do you even notice special effects these days? I just saw an ax get pulled out of a guy’s face on Game of Thrones, and I didn’t give it a second thought. What an actor! That guy is going places!
When I was a kid, I was a movie special effects junkie. Not the gross stuff like the guy with the ax in his face, but the eye-popping stuff that left your mouth hanging open. Even though it was on the gross side, I remember how Jaws blew me away with Bruce the Shark. That big mechanical monster was terrifying when combined with an amazing director like Stephen Spielberg.
For me, two other movies cemented the next level of special effects. The first was Star Wars: Episode IV, of course. When that Star Destroyer filled the screen in 1977, it blew away audiences all over the world. The other film that turned special effects into another member of the cast was Jurassic Park.
That movie was so incredible when it came out in 1993, it left us all wondering where they found all of those dinosaurs, and how they had trained them so well. It marked the first time in a motion picture where the special effects were so seamless, you didn’t question the raptors who were trying to make a meal out of Kirsten Dunst.
However, once an industry becomes too good at what they do, they become a victim of their own success. All of the movie magic that used to make our jaws drop barely gets noticed anymore. With the advancement of CGI, the special effects department is gradually being replaced by a mega-geek with a supercomputer.
When I saw The Wizard of Oz was on TBS the other night, I decided to stay up. When The Wicked Witch of the West melts down after getting hit with a bucket of water, it’s still priceless. After Dorothy returns to Kansas, the film instantly changes gears from eye-popping color, back to the original sepia tone. Still pretty darn cool.
So this summer, when you catch the next big Hollywood blockbuster, please take note of the stuff that used to make you say, “Wow!” It’s still pretty darn cool.
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