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Green screen city

| Wednesday, March 3, 2021

I don’t think I am the only person to say that special effects in movies have gotten insanely good in the past decade. Over the weekend, my friends and I watched Marvel’s “Age of Ultron” and quickly realized that the animation or CGI in that movie just wasn’t that good. The Avengers looked like they were a part of a video game. We only say this because special effects in 2021 are way better than special effects just a couple of years ago. When we looked up the release date of  “Age of Ultron” we were shocked to see that the movie is only six years old. At the time the animation was at its peak, but that kind of stuff is always evolving into something better.

Now, I know that this is kind of an unpopular opinion in the Star Wars universe, but the prequels aren’t that good. In my own opinion, I think that the movies could have been better without all the CGI. When I was watching all of them last March, it was hard to get through them because of awful CGI. Now, I’m not saying they are just downright bad. Never. The fight scenes alone are one of their redeeming qualities. I’m just saying that they could have used less green screens and more traditional sets. That is what makes the original Star Wars movies classics. It is because of the authenticity of the characters’ environments. In the prequels you just lose that originality. In the sequels, however, the cinematography is so incredibly well done that it almost makes up for weak storylines in some cases. Watching those movies in the theaters wasn’t like any other experience I’ve had in a movie theater.

On our walk back to our dorm, my friends and I discussed how movies these days feel like they lack authenticity because of heavy animation and CGI. We understand that technology is forever advancing, but we just thought it was crazy that actors live in this “green screen city” (as my friend would say) while shooting an entire movie. The Lord of the Rings movies came up in the conversation and we talked about how well they are aging because of the use of real people and intricate set designs. They looked good then and they look good now — they are truly classics.

This isn’t an inside column about how my friends and I hate green screens and CGI. We are just simply recognizing the fact that when we go back and watch the early “Avengers” or “Star Wars” prequels, they just won’t be as impressive as when we first saw them. A truly good movie will forever feel like you are watching it for the first time. I guess with movies in the Marvel or Star Wars universes, that’s the risk you take, because you know that as time goes on, that kind of movie magic will always get better.

Now, I am no film expert and I am not saying that my opinions are shared by everyone. But when I look back and think about my favorite movies, I always noticed that they are raw and authentic. They weren’t filmed in a “green screen city”. They were filmed outside with natural lighting or filmed on a set where there was little to no animation. And maybe that is just the kind of movies I like to watch, but I can’t wait to see how animation and CGI evolve in 20 years. I have a feeling that we are going to have a hard time understanding what is real and not real in movies in years to come.

The views expressed in this column are those of the author and not necessarily those of The Observer.

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