Click to Skip Ad
Closing in...
2015 Tribeca Film Festival Line-Up Announced: James Franco’s ‘Adderall Diaries,’ Olivia Wilde In ‘Meadowland’ & More 2015 Tribeca Film Festival Line-Up Announced: James Franco’s ‘Adderall Diaries,’ Olivia Wilde In ‘Meadowland’ & More First Look: Joseph Gordon-Levitt As Edward Snowden In Oliver Stone's 'Snowden' First Look: Joseph Gordon-Levitt As Edward Snowden In Oliver Stone's 'Snowden' Drew Goddard To Write And Direct Sony & Marvel's 'The Spectacular Spider-Man'; 'Sinister Six' Scrapped Drew Goddard To Write And Direct Sony & Marvel's 'The Spectacular Spider-Man'; 'Sinister Six' Scrapped Premature Oscar Predictions: The 2016 Best Picture Contenders Premature Oscar Predictions: The 2016 Best Picture Contenders Watch: Original Short Film Version Of 'Whiplash' Starring Oscar Winner J.K. Simmons Watch: Original Short Film Version Of 'Whiplash' Starring Oscar Winner J.K. Simmons Watch: Nifty Video Examines David Fincher’s Subtle Repetition Of Framing And Blocking In 'Gone Girl' Watch: Nifty Video Examines David Fincher’s Subtle Repetition Of Framing And Blocking In 'Gone Girl' Sigourney Weaver Says She'll Be Playing A New Character In The 'Avatar' Sequels Sigourney Weaver Says She'll Be Playing A New Character In The 'Avatar' Sequels Margot Robbie Says 'Suicide Squad' Is More 'The Dark Knight' Than 'Avengers'; David Ayer Says Joker Is "Majestic" Margot Robbie Says 'Suicide Squad' Is More 'The Dark Knight' Than 'Avengers'; David Ayer Says Joker Is "Majestic" Kristen Stewart Joins Kelly Reichardt’s Untitled Montana Drama With Michelle Williams & More Kristen Stewart Joins Kelly Reichardt’s Untitled Montana Drama With Michelle Williams & More Watch: Paul Thomas Anderson's Sophomore Short 'Cigarettes & Coffee' Watch: Paul Thomas Anderson's Sophomore Short 'Cigarettes & Coffee' Another Oscar? First Look At Eddie Redmayne In Tom Hooper's 'The Danish Girl' Another Oscar? First Look At Eddie Redmayne In Tom Hooper's 'The Danish Girl' 'Prisoners' & 'Enemy' Director Denis Villeneuve To Helm 'Blade Runner' Sequel, Harrison Ford Confirmed To Return 'Prisoners' & 'Enemy' Director Denis Villeneuve To Helm 'Blade Runner' Sequel, Harrison Ford Confirmed To Return The 50 Best Films Of The Decade So Far The 50 Best Films Of The Decade So Far "I F*cked It Up": Neill Blomkamp Says He Wants To Go Back To 'Elysium' And "Do It Correctly" "I F*cked It Up": Neill Blomkamp Says He Wants To Go Back To 'Elysium' And "Do It Correctly" New Looks At Daniel Craig, Dave Bautista, And Lea Seydoux In 'Spectre' New Looks At Daniel Craig, Dave Bautista, And Lea Seydoux In 'Spectre' The 25 Best Films Of 2015 We've Already Seen The 25 Best Films Of 2015 We've Already Seen Best Of 2014: The 15 Best Movie Soundtracks Of 2014 Best Of 2014: The 15 Best Movie Soundtracks Of 2014 The 25 Best Horror Films Of The 21st Century So Far The 25 Best Horror Films Of The 21st Century So Far The 20 Best TV Shows Of The 2013/2014 Season The 20 Best TV Shows Of The 2013/2014 Season From Worst To Best: Ranking The Films Of Hayao Miyazaki From Worst To Best: Ranking The Films Of Hayao Miyazaki

Discuss: Can Special Effects Still Impress? ILM Creative Director Dennis Muren Says They “Aren't Special Anymore”

The Playlist By Charlie Schmidlin | The Playlist April 11, 2013 at 11:02AM

The name may be unfamiliar, but ILM Creative Director Dennis Muren's contributions to film certainly aren't. Initially hired by George Lucas on “Star Wars,” the man has nabbed eight Oscars for his visual effects work to date, and more importantly, he shepherded ILM's transition from practical models to CG work with “Terminator 2: Judgment Day.” All of which is to say: when the man comments on the current state of the industry, you perk up.
16
Nicolas Cage The Sorcerer's Apprentice

The name may be unfamiliar, but ILM Creative Director Dennis Muren's contributions to film certainly aren't. Initially hired by George Lucas on “Star Wars,” the man has nabbed eight Oscars for his visual effects work to date, and more importantly, he shepherded ILM's transition from practical models to CG work with “Terminator 2: Judgment Day.” All of which is to say: when the man comments on the current state of the industry, you perk up.

Unfortunately, Muren has found the need to speak not out of celebration, but in alarm and anxiety. Claiming that his craft has “reached a ceiling” and that "[in] some ways… special effects aren't special anymore,” he has also lamented the rise of narrative bloat, and inexperienced young directors lost in their attempts at practical and CGI effects.

“If you're going to make a motion picture, don't just throw computer graphics in to make everything bigger or more,” he said. “Don't have an army of 20,000 centaurs or whatever it is, if the story is better with seven centaurs. They've lost sight, making things bigger and bigger. Less personal." 

The issue grew more pertinent this week, as director Neill Blomkamp's sophomore sci-fi effort, “Elysium,” was smack in the center of it. After Sony screened 10 minutes of footage to press, the reaction was largely ecstatic, with many praising (including us) Blomkamp's continued fusion of VFX work (by Image Engine) and Weta Workshop's practical wizardry for the film's weapons and mech-suits.

So, are Muren's words made purely of melancholic nostalgia -- mere quibbles to give James Cameron pause before roaring back to the CG environments of the “Avatar” sequels? Or could our feedback to Blomkamp's latest simply be tinged with relief toward special effects with some actual visceral heft? Let us know your thoughts on special effects -- the good and the bad -- below. [Movies.com]

This article is related to: Features, Dennis Muren


The Playlist

The obsessives' guide to contemporary cinema via film discussion, news, reviews, features, nostalgia, movie music, soundtracks, DVDs and more.


Check out Indiewire on LockerDome on LockerDome

E-Mail Updates