The Best of The Worst CGI Moments


Recently I wrote a blog about how much I hate modern computer effects. Just to prove I'm not a complete idiot (this has been mentioned as a possibility, I must admit), I figured I would add a quick little Top 10 to the debate, to illustrate my points.

So without further ado, here are my picks for the best of the worst that CGI has brought us in major Hollywood films from the last decade or so.


1: The Mummy Returns (2001)

The Rock as The Scorpion King

You've never heard true laughter until you've heard an audience react to this scene. It comes at the end of an already problematic over the top film, but the sight of The Rock as a CGI abomination is far worse than anything director Stephen Summers had previously thrown at the viewers. Rumor has it that ILM ran out of time when they did the finale. Either that or it was "bring your kid to work"-day when the scene was created.

2: The Matrix Reloaded (2003)

Neo fights a thousand Smithsessers

They tried to top the fantastic Bullet Time effect from The Matrix (1999). All they did was ruin everything they had built in that film. Never before has a franchise taken such a dive in the hearts and minds of geeks everywhere.

CGI Keanu Reeves looks fake - that's pretty obvious - so why on earth would you do slow-motion shots with him, so we can really see how bad he looks?!

3: King Kong (2005)

The dino stampede

The scene is over the top in every way. It runs for 12736 minutes. And the interaction between the mediocre CGI dinosaurs and the mediocre actors is beyond unconvincing. The Academy should take back the Oscar they gave Peter Jackson for Return on the King (2003).

4: Star Wars - The Phantom Menace (1999)

Jar Jar

Jar Jar was a bad idea to begin with, but even if you get past that (though, I don't see how you could) he's still one of the worst CGI characters ever. The design is offensive, and he talks like a drunk baby. Jar Jar single-handedly brought the Star Wars franchise to its knees. Yup, a cartoon rabbit was all it took.

5: Star Wars Spe. Edi. (1977 / 1997)

Han Solo steps on Jabba's tail

When Lucas decided to beef up the old Star Wars films, and re-release them in the theaters, he included a previously cut scene, where Han Solo meets Jabba, the gangster. In 1977 the character was played by a normal actor, but now Jabba needed to match the slug creature from Return of the Jedi (1983), so a CGI abomination was added on top of the original footage. That did not work. The effect was SO BAD that they redid the whole thing for the 2007 DVD release, where it also looked horrible.

6: Mission to Mars (2000)

The Aliens

Probably the most offensive ending of a sci-fi film ever. It's show and tell with E.T.! Next we'll do finger-paint! Wait, they already did that... When they created this scene. Look at it! Just look at it! This is a movie? An actual movie?

7: Spider-Man Trilogy (2002-2007)

Every shot of Spidey

It didn't look good in the first film. It didn't look good in the second, and - wait for it - it didn't look good in the third film either. When Spider-Man is swinging through the city and the camera spins around him all sense of reality is lost. A human couldn't stand this strain, no camera could either, which is part of the reason why the shot doesn't hold up. Also, Spider-Man looks like a rubber doll.

8: Star Wars - Attack of the Clones (2002)

Riding CGI creatures

With some 2000+ effect shots for this film, I guess it's only fair that a few got past the quality control of ILM. However, the "Anakin riding the giant tick", and "The heroes riding the creature in the arena" shots look so unconvincing, you'll be asking yourself why they didn't just cut them.

"Real person jumps on to fake moving object"-shots are some of the hardest shots do to. And yet, they keep showing up in films. Go figure.

9: Lord of the Rings - Return of the King

Orlando kills the big elephant

Once again physics goes out the window as Legolas (Orlando Bloom) jumps on to the big elephant monster, manages NOT to fall of, kills the creature with a few arrows, and slides down the trunk. This sequence could not look any more fake, not even if it had been animated with Legos. Geddit? Legos... Legolas... see what I did?

10: Transformers - Revenge of the Fallen (2009)

Every damn robot shot

Look! There's some blurred metal fighting!

With the dense images and the quick cutting, the only time you can see anything in Transformers 2 is when the robots fight in slow motion. The rest of the time it's almost impossible to figure out what's going on. You just have to take a deep breath, and wait for the dust to settle, if you want to know who won.

Special Achievement Award: Robert Zemeckis

For every mo-cap film he has ever made, or will make in the future

I'm not sure what's worst... The weird waxy Tom Hanks from The Polar Express (2004), a buff Ray Winstone in Beowulf (2007), or a rubber-faced Jim Carrey in A Cristmas Story (2009). Robert Zemeckis loves doing these animated films, because now he has control of everything. He can make it perfect! Or not, as it were. These films look so damn creepy! Even those officially endorsed fake nude shots of Angeline Jolie are just plain disturbing.

Look, making movies is hard to do, Robert! If you can't stand the heat, get out of the kitchen. You're taking up space actual filmmakers could use.

Dishonorable Mentions

Hulk (2003) goes without saying. The troll in the first Harry Potter film was awful, and the midget in the second one should be shot on camera. The avalanche in xXx (2002) looks pretty unconvincing, as does everything in Journey to the Center of the Earth (2008), and almost everything in Van Helsing (2004). All the snakes of Snakes on a Plane (2006), the slug-blob-thingy in the climax of Dreamcatcher (2003), the Smurfs of Avatar (2009) - Sorry, I just didn't buy them for a second - the CGI robot of The Day the Earth Stood Still (2008), and the vortex climax of Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Man's Chest (2006).

Final Thoughts

So there you have it, my picks for the worst CGI of big budget Hollywood. Feel free to add you own suggestions in the comments.



  1. CGI pans and zooms, clouds, etc. from the Pokemon movies. YUCK!

  2. @Cruel Reality
    I've never seen those! Are they mixing CGI and hand-drawn animation?

  3. Hear hear! Also, I hated the gimmicky camera hurtling around CGI aircraft doing impossible manoeuvres in Pearl Harbor, it looked more like the director had wanted to shoot the attack on the Death Star than a WWII film. Michael Bay, if you want to see how to recreate the attack on Pearl Harbour properly, watch 1970's Tora! Tora! Tora! or even 1942's The War at Sea from Hawaii to Malaya.

  4. @McTodd Good point. Have been meaning to revisit Pearl Harbor for a while, just to get my blood boiling! And yeah, Tora! Tora! Tora! is marvelous!