5 Times Choosing Practical Effects Over CGI Was a Terrible Mistake

5 Times Choosing Practical Effects Over CGI Was a Terrible Mistake
Image credit: Walt Disney Studios Motion Pictures

These movies proved that sometimes, practical effects aren't the best choice.

While practical effects have been the backbone of cinematic wonder for decades, CGI allows filmmakers to do things that are impossible or more expensive to do with practical effects. And there are actual instances where choosing practical effects over CGI turned out to be a major misstep.

The Dark Knight Rises (Football Scene)

If you watched The Dark Knight Rises, you’ll remember a tense football scene. But wait, where's the crowd? Well, it initially seems crowded, but if you pay attention, it’s actually half empty. Apparently, getting enough extras for a full stadium wasn't in the cards.

CGI could've packed those seats in no time. Instead, we got a stadium that looked more like a Tuesday afternoon practice than a nail-biting game day.

American Sniper (Baby Scene)

In American Sniper, there is a scene with the baby. And it’s clearly a doll. It sticks out like a sore thumb. This is one of those moments where a little CGI could've added loads of realism.

Instead, we got a scene that felt more like a high school play prop than a blockbuster movie.

Star Wars: Episode I – The Phantom Menace (Yoda)

Star Wars: Episode I brought us a lot of things, but a convincing Yoda wasn't one of them. The practical effect version of our favorite green Jedi Master just didn't cut it, especially when compared to his later CGI-enhanced appearances.

He looked more like he was ready for retirement than ready to wield a lightsaber. In comparison, The Mask, starring Jim Carrey and having amazing CGI, was released five years prior to The Phantom Menace.

Jurassic Park III (Spinosaurus)

Dinosaurs are cool, but a stiff, animatronic Spinosaurus? Not so much. In Jurassic Park III, the movements of the big, bad dino felt more robotic than prehistoric.

Sure, animatronics have their charm, but this was a case where CGI would've made this predator much more lifelike and terrifying.

Twilight ( Baby Scene)

Yes, a baby again. The CGI baby in the series drew plenty of criticism, but did you know the initial puppet was way worse? We're talking nightmare fuel. While CGI didn't exactly save the day in the final cut, the alternative was something straight out of a horror movie.