Avatar saw the biggest opening in cinema history. It’s had filmgoers arguing over its quality since its release in 2009 but it cannot be denied that from a special effects point of view, it’s an absolute masterpiece. Through it’s spectacular computer graphics it created a fantasy world, the likes of we had never seen before and it’s use of mo-cap technology meant that we could see realistic aliens acting before us. The greatest spectacle however was it’s use of 3D technology, proving that it was more than just a gimmick to pull in an audience, it created a truly immersive world that was a cinema experience like no other. In fact, I’d go as far to say I’ve not seen anything as impressive since.
2001: A Space Odyssey
2001 was created in a time when the Sci-Fi genre was never taken seriously. It was a popcorn genre filled willy silly costumes and corny effects. Stanley Kubrick changed that forever thanks to his years spent researching space travel. He wanted to create a serious sci-fi and so shot hours of experimental footage involving new special effects produced by himself and Douglas Turnbull. The film went on to change cinema forever creating some of the most impressive effects that still hold up to this day. The effects were largely produced thanks to set and camera work and as such aren’t still used today, but they certainly paved the way for what we now know as the norm. A truly pioneering technique used here was the involvement of computers being used to precisely time camera movements, this was the first time this was done and was arguably the first step towards modern special effects.
Jurassic Park brought to life those fascinating, extinct reptiles that people will forever be in awe of in a way nobody had before, and they did it in a way that still holds up over 25 years later. It was certainly the most impressive use of computer graphics that had ever been used at the time and these gigantic beasts roaming the plains proved that CGI is the future of cinema. It wasn’t just the computer graphics that helped this film pull off the seemingly impossible though, the life-size animatronic puppets are perhaps the most impressive feature in the film. The realism of the raptors and of course the T-Rex were far beyond any puppetry seen before.
The original Star Wars trilogy brought with it change not just in the special effects department but throughout the entire film industry. The first of the films was effectively the first ever modern blockbuster movie and as such the cinema industry still tries to recapture the magic this classic brought with it to this day. The aliens, the lightsabres and the space battles in this film were certainly all ground-breaking, so much so that the team of people responsible the Industrial Light & Magic company, the first ever major Hollywood effects company. The effects company is still considered one of the best today and their work on the newer Star Wars films is just as impressive, though often criticism of their stories will blind people to how impressive this aspect really is.