In the past, creating fully CG characters was a gamble as many times it actually felt distracting to the rest of the film. Over the years, CGI has evolved so much to the point that it’s now possible to create photo-real characters using the magic of visual effects.
However, CGI in the last few years has tremendously decreased in quality for some studios due to how fast production schedules are. Marvel Studios has recently received heavy criticism over the treatment of the VFX studios they have been hiring, which will hopefully make a turn for the better in the future. However, questionable special effects is certainly not only a Marvel problem, as several other big-budget movies show.
10 Baby Renesmee (The Twilight Saga: Breaking Dawn – Part 2)
For scenes featuring Bella’s newborn daughter, the creative team decided to use CGI rather than an actual baby. Originally, a puppet was used, which the crew jokingly nicknamed “Chuckesmee” due to its resemblance to Chucky.
Reddit user truthm0dealso notes that the original puppet used in filming “looks like Chucky’s little sister.” Using an actual baby would have really benefited the film because, sadly, the CGI baby is laughable.
9 Centaur (Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone)
After facing Voldemort in the Forbidden Forest, Harry is luckily saved by a centaur. Reddit user Choice-Valuable313 mentions, “Tho later stuff looked amazing, those first centaurs we saw in the Harry Potter movies were not.”
While it’s a cool scene, the CGI leans more on the uncanny side. It’s also a very good thing that scene takes place in a dark environment, as, if it were filmed in the day, the CGI would be way more apparent and probably look ten times worse.
8 The Scorpion King (The Mummy Returns)
The Rock’s first major Hollywood role was as the Scorpion King in The Mummy Returns, which was followed by the spinoff The Scorpion King. Reddit user spdrman8 states, “I’ll Start, The Mummy Returns. It looks like a … ps3 game.”
Numerous people over the years have called it the worst CGI ever in a blockbuster film. They’re definitely not wrong. A better alternative would have been to use The Rock on set but only create the Scorpion legs from the waist down with CGI. Luckily, the Corridor Crew has since vastly improved the shot using modern techniques, which can be seen on YouTube.
7 Mr. Electric (The Adventures of Sharkboy & Lavagirl)
Sharkboy & Lavagirl is definitely a unique movie. Featuring effects that are overly cartoonish and very stylized, the film is pretty much what you’d expect from a Robert Rodriguez-directed family superhero film. Redditor thePETEY12 says, “Shout out to Sharkboy and Lavagirl. The CGI was awful, and the George Lopez robot thing at the end was the cherry on the cake.”
The CGI for Mr. Electric is very clunky, but it matches the rest of the film’s campy aesthetic. Another Redditor, Foreign_Rock6944, mentions “Sharkboy and Lavagirl is like a fever dream. After it’s over you only remember weird images and sounds that leave you confused.”
6 The Android (Replicas)
Despite having a handsome budget of $30 million, this Keanu Reeves’ lead sci-fi vehicle bombed horribly, only making back $9 million worldwide (per Box Office Mojo). Replicas had one of the worst examples of CGI for the film’s Android that appears.
Redditor mihirmusprimementions “Replicas with Keanu Reeves. It came out in 2018 but the CGI looks like it came out in 2002. It’s so bad.” This user is being quite generous as the effects are not to par with other projects that came in 2002 but rather resemble early CGI from the 90s.
5 Wolverine’s Claws (X-Men Origins: Wolverine)
While the tie-in video game is one of the best, the same can’t be said for the movie it’s based on, X-Men Origins: Wolverine. While most X-Men films with Wolverine have featured him with practical claws, Origins made the odd decision of making them CG in several scenes.
Redditor TheLastJediSux notes that it “looks like a Snapchat filter that got disoriented.” It’s disappointing that even a $150 million can have awful CGI, but it, unfortunately, happens a lot more often nowadays.
4 Reptile (Mortal Kombat)
Although the CGI for Reptile in the latest reboot of Mortal Kombat film is the best the franchise has ever seen, the work in the original 1995 film is pretty terrible. User farrellfox voices their opinion, mentioning “Reptile is in the first movie and it’s Lui Kang who fights him. The CGI in that is pretty rough sometimes.”
When Reptile is in his Lizard form, the visual effects are atrocious, looking like something straight out of the animated series ReBoot. While the CGI is lacking in that specific scene, there are some brilliant examples of practical work in the film, such as Goro, who is a puppet.
3 T-800 (Terminator: Salvation)
While many have called Salvation one of the worst Terminator films, it’s honestly pretty misunderstood. The film features fantastic acting from Christian Bale and Sam Worthington along with a really interesting premise that separates it from the rest of the films. A reddit user named lakmus85_real argues, “Arnie’s copy in Terminator: Salvation looks like a rubber ducky to me somehow. That posture and look on the face…”
Replicating people fully in CG during the 2000s was still extremely difficult, and while the effect hasn’t aged the best, it’s state-of-the-art for the time. By the time of the fifth film in 2015, effects had advanced far enough to create a younger T-800 for flashbacks, and the result is just stunning.
2 Dinosaurs (Jurassic World Trilogy)
The animatronic dinosaurs in the Jurassic Park franchise are some of the best work ever put to film. Since the franchise returned in 2015 with the release of Jurassic World, there has been an over-reliance on CGI with very few animatronics used. Redditor baudinl voices their frustration, mentioning, “I think the CGI in the new Jurassic Park movies look horrible. Which is all the more ironic that the 1993 with its practical effects looked 10x better.”
Another user, sodsto argues “The original movie’s CG was used sparingly and is actually pretty good. Especially for work done in ’92/’93.” Most films from the 90s would use a bit of CGI but would still prioritize practical effects and visual trickery as CGI was still in its early stages.
1 Any of the Cats (Cats)
Reddit user BananaShakeStudios simply states, “Cats. Oh god, Cats”. What was thought to be an Awards contender by critics and moviegoers in the lead-up to its release, Cats will go down in history as one of the biggest blunders in Hollywood history.
Shortneckbuzzardindicates, “It was such a big deal prior to its release. Was supposed to be huge. Like wizard of Oz or something”. With such a talented cast involved, it’s a shame the film was so bad.