The Backlash Against CGI

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First Ghost Rider Movie

The promise by director of the new Ghost Rider film to show real broken bones on screen maybe the first sign of a wider backlash against lazy use of CGI


At the recent Comicon event, Brian Taylor and Mark Neveldine co-directors of Ghost Rider: Spirit of Vengeance told Wired magazine that the new Nicolas Cage vehicle would be darker than the first critically-panned Ghost Rider movie. The article suggests the liflelessness of the first film is down to the digital feel of the imagery, “you will see real bones breaking in Ghost Rider,” said Taylor. “Not CG bones — real bones.”  He’s talking about stunts.


We’ve seen the rush to analog in photography, is this some sort of cinematic equivalent? Have we simply got tired of seeing the impossible happen on screen? Is this part of a wider trend as noted by film critic David Denby who argues that this summer’s avalanche of CG heavy movies from Super 8 to The Green Lantern, “movies based on that kind of imagery may be sensational as design,” writes Denby in The New Yorker, “but they aren’t likely to fill us with the empathy, dread, and joy inspired by fictions about people making their way through a world where walls are solid, gravity is unrelenting, and matter is indissoluble. Storytelling thrives on limits, inhibitions, social conventions, a world of anticipations and outcomes. Can you have a story that means anything halfway serious without gravity’s pull and the threat of mortality?”


Denby cites Pixar’s Ratatouille and Up as examples. It’s not about opposing reality to CGI it’s about a filmgoer having a sense that something matters, emotionally and psychologically, in the storytelling.


Has CGI intruded too much into the storytelling? Are directors losing a grip on what really moves audiences, even in summer blockbusters?


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