Is the use of CGI and SFX Over-Saturating the Films of Today?

Is the use of CGI and SFX Over-Saturating the Films of Today?

In recent years there have been many claims (see here, here, and here) that SFX and CGI have been used too much and are ruining the films we see today, basing their opinions on things such as the WETA effect, named after Peter Jackson’s Weta Digital special effects company, and snippets of interviews where professionals explain that maybe it is bad, or that it is used too much, and then go on to explain the benefits of it, which are usually disregarded or cut. These articles do not consider that the story must be strong to begin with, the target audience and what they want to see in films in the current time, and the practical cost of effects etc.


Directed By Michael Bay

First of all, it is very noticeable in a bad movie when they use too much or poor CGI and SFX, this is because the viewer isn’t invested and the story is not strong to begin with, depending on such SFX to give it a boost. The ever-constant Transformer movies are an example, people were getting tired of the idea and started to criticize how often explosions happened, turning Michael Bay into an internet meme. Sharknado is an example of both bad SFX/CGI and bad plot and actors. But it is made this way because it is a satire thriller created to be laughed at and that SyFy (channel) constantly mocks itself. Considering that teens and young adults love Dystopian, Sic-fi, and books based in fantasy kingdoms or with fantasy creatures, (, 2017) special effects have made those books into amazing movies using real people, bringing it closer to reality rather than in a readers head.


More is not More

Even so it is understandable that the WETA effect comes into play and that sometimes more is not more, but too much. Sometimes SFX can be distracting from the story simply because they are used too often or too close to the characters, making them a distraction. Yet on the other side, everyone loves the movies that have these effects, and when they don’t, it tends to be due to bad story development or even cast, less due to SFX. The ethical nature of Rogue One: A Star Wars Story bringing back a character played by Peter Cushing, who has been dead for over two decades was something to make some dislike the film but this was not mentioned due to bad effects, but because it may be unethical (Ehrlich, 2016). The Divergent series went down due to a bad relationship to the book, the books unnecessary ending, and the overall boring plot that closely mirrored Hunger Games (read more here) and because of poor profits, the last movie has now become a TV movie, shocking even the main actress “Honestly, I was on a plane when all that happened and I landed, and I’m like ‘Whoa, what’s going on?!’ I need to talk and find out what the details are.”


Magic Creating Magic

When such things as the WETA effect are considered, and yes, over-saturation with special effects, it is understandable that many are getting tired of the never-ending onslaught of superhero and fantasy movies. But when considering good plot as well as good effects that do not drown out the characters, these movies are important at bringing ideas and books to life, making them into an easier medium to understand and perceive, and making what can only be imagine in the mind of a reader, to life, like magic creating magic. These movies, shows and games take people from their everyday life where the only ‘magic’ is love and living through sickness, and transporting them to a world where magic is normal and as amazing as one can imagine, where there are no problems and heroes save your life.


Below is a video that discusses similar points as this article, feel free to watch:

Otherwise, if you enjoyed this article and want to know more, below are some more articles discussing arguments for and against SFX and CGI: