|The Lone Ranger (2013), Tonto (Johnny Depp)|
The surprising reason the failure of The Lone Ranger will have huge implications to sci-fi movies.
By now, everyone knows that The Lone Ranger is a huge flop. It made $48.9 million in five days and the film reportedly cost a whopping $250 million.
You're probably thinking, "Who cares? I wasn't going to see that movie anyway." But you should. We all should. As an avid science fiction fan, I realized it could have huge implications on sci-fi and superhero movies. Why?
Surprisingly enough, it's all about CGI. It's not the fact that they cast a (mostly) white actor as a Native American. It's not the massive budget since most sci-fi movies have massive budgets. No, the main reason you need to care is director Gore Verbinski doesn't use CGI for some action scenes, and this is the most often mentioned reason for the huge budget overruns that threatened to shut the production down.
With this movie failing, we'll see more films relying on CGI. Gore Verbinski insisted on doing many of the stunts for real with massive period trains they built from scratch. That's expensive. They could have used CGI trains and actors instead of using in-camera, or practical, effects. But Verbinski wanted it to look real, and he didn't feel CGI would cut it.
I loved Man of Steel, but it uses too much CGI. It never feels real. The first time Superman flew, it killed the realism the film had up at that point.
Compare that to Superman (1978) where all the flying looked and felt completely real. You really do believe a man can fly. The makers of that film were so determined to make it real that the first flying test was shooting a dummy out of a cannon. It didn't work, but they tried.
I'm not against CGI. There are some action scenes and creatures that are impossible without it, but it has limits. CGI is not good enough for things that we know are real. Like having a guy walk across the room.
Let's use Man of Steel for another example. Remember the mute brute Non (Jack O'Halloran) in Superman? Compare him to the CGI Nam-Ek in Man of Steel. Which felt more real?
Some of the greatest science fiction movie scenes have been done using practical effects. For example, The Matrix' bullet time scene. King Kong's climb up the Empire State Building. Batman barreling through the streets of Gotham City. Science fiction movies are going to demand more fantastical action scenes. So, the future of Hollywood could be more CGI and less practical effects. Which is sad.
Hollywood is going to point to The Lone Ranger's practical effects for the failure instead of blaming the horrible script, almost three-hour running time, and ridiculous action scenes. Make up artists and practical effects houses like "Stan Winston School" (that created massive dinosaurs robots for Jurassic Park) could go away forever.
Hopefully, CGI gets better by then.
Do you think science fiction movies are helped or hurt by more CGI? What do you think the failure of The Lone Ranger will change movies in the future?
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