The “Planet of the Apes” reboot opted against the rubber masks worn during the original ’70s-based franchise.
The results? Stunning, to put it bluntly. CGI magic makes the apes in the series, which resumes this weekend with “War for the Planet of the Apes,” look amazingly lifelike.
It confirms what we’ve known, and seen, for some time. CGI-created characters can make us believe virtually anything on the big screen. The digital apes are part of a recent tradition of stunning CGI characters. Consider the following five examples as proof the digital film age can turn ones and zeroes into fascinating figures.
The T-1000 Terminator
It’s the CGI character that started it all. Moviegoers were shocked to see actor Robert Patrick walk through metal bars in “Terminator 2: Judgment Day.” He had plenty of other visual goodies in his bag of tricks, too. The result? A CGI character who could carry a scene, threaten the hero and make us believe the impossible.
Technology has changed dramatically since then. Those 1991 visuals aren’t as cutting edge as they once were. Watch the movie again. Most of the FX still hold up. Patrick deserves credit for a chilling performance, but he gets plenty of help.
“The Lord of the Rings” trilogy delivered on the hype built into the franchise. The series lacked an A-list star, but the battles, pitfalls and heroism stood out. So did Gollum. The character made the final two chapters in the saga all the more intriguing. Gollum laughed, and cried and made us feel like he deserved our pity. The creature’s odd, transparent skin and creepy strands of hair made him visually arresting as well.
It’s impossible to imagine the saga without him.
The recent Netflix release is an unqualified dud. The same can’t be said for the creature at the heart of the tale. Okja is a genetically tweaked “super-pig” meant to feed the masses without impacting the environment.
The story rails against capitalism and the meat industry. That can’t distract us from what a marvel Okja the super-pig truly is. He’s cartoonishly large and playful. Yet when he cuddles next to his human chum (Seo-Hyeon Ahn) the effects are magical. Their interactions are so smooth, so lifelike you’ll think the creature could be found at the nearest zoo.
Director Peter Jackson went a little CGI crazy with his 2005 remake of the 1933 film classic. Dinosaurs, crazy bugs and more littered the screen. And then there was Kong.
Team Jackson knew it had to create a compelling, three-dimensional ape to complete his ambitious remake. They succeeded so well the recent “Kong: Skull Island” couldn’t match it. The latter film hit theaters more than a decade after Jackson’s version, a lifetime in FX time. It’s still no contest.
Jackson’s ape remains a marvel, and thanks to the CGI acting of Andy Serkis, he stole our hearts in the process.
The ‘Jungle Book’ Animals
Live action remakes can be big mistakes. Think those mediocre “Flintstones” movies for exhibits A and B. The 2016 “Jungle Book” was different. The box office smash used digital effects to bring Baloo, Bagheera and other jungle creatures to life.
The results? Stunning, to say the least. Those creatures, combined with CGI jungle terrain, proved utterly convincing in every sequence.