From Star Wars to Avengers: Age of Ultron - The 7 Best Industrial Light and Magic Special Effects of All TIme
Special effects company Industrial Light & Magic celebrated their 40th anniversary last week, which is quite an impressive accomplishment, especially when you take into account the fact that they have produced visual effects for close to 300 films. But out of all of those movies, there are a select few that stand a cut above the rest, movies with visual effects that have permeated the public consciousness with their iconic imagery. Here are our favorites:
7. Terminator 2: Judgement Day
Considered revolutionary at the time (a common theme among the films on this list), T2 introduced us to a CGI-produced villain in the T-1000. Seeing Robert Patrick take on a liquid metal form to morph his arms into blades or slide through a gated door brought a level of terror to movies that simply wasn't possible before, and though some of the film's effects don't hold up by today's standards, the film as a whole still stands as a monumental achievement.
E.T. was made in a time before the technology for CGI characters to appear in a live-action film existed, so the title character was instead an animatronic puppet. But you never get that feeling watching the movie, as E.T. remains one of the most iconic and lovable characters ever seen on screen. And has there ever been a more magical movie moment than E.T. and Elliot's flight across the moon?
5. Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Man's Chest
In contrast to the motion-capture characters who came before him, like the cartoonish Gollum in The Lord of the Rings, there was nothing to suggest that tentacle-faced Davy Jones wasn't an actor wearing prosthetics, but he was in fact 100% CGI. The photorealism of the character still astounds today, and was pretty much the only highlight of the atrocious later movies in this once-promising franchise.
4. Forrest Gump
Not all of Industrial Light and Magic's effects have to be explosions or grotesque creatures, sometimes it's the little things. Like Forrest Gump popping up in archival footage alongside JFK and shaking the president's hand. Or Lieutenant Dan appearing to have no legs. The movies subtle use of effects was groundbreaking, and showed that computer-generated special effects had practical applications in all films, not just action-packed sci-fi blockbusters.
3. Avengers: Age of Ultron
While CGI characters are often overused in current cinema to a distracting degree, the newest Avengers film somehow avoids this fate. Don't get us wrong, the movie uses a ton of CGI, but it manages to blend in seamlessly with the actors, to the point that we couldn't tell what was real and what wasn't. This is likely due to the fact that Industrial Light & Magic actually invented a new motion-capture technology for the film, giving computer-generated characters like the Hulk a fluidity and ability to emote that wasn't possible before. Plus, it almost goes without saying that the action sequences in the movie are absolutely stunning, and have effectively raised the bar for all future comic book adaptations.
2. Star Wars
There's no denying that Star Wars changed movies forever. In fact, George Lucas founded Industrial Light & Magic because there was no company in existence at the time that was capable of producing the effects he desired for the film. Since the movie was made in 1977 and CGI wasn't available yet, some scenes may look a little cheesy today, but at the time of its release this movie blew people's minds and pretty much invented the modern blockbuster.
1. Jurassic Park
While Star Wars kicked everything off, one could argue that no movie has made better use of the effects at its disposal than Jurassic Park. Released in 1993, the film was at a crossroads between the completely computer-generated special effects of today and the animatronic puppet-based effects of the past, and it managed to blend the use of both methods almost perfectly. The movie used CGI sparingly but to impressive effect, creating images that previously would not have been possible, while also making use of advanced robotics and puppetry in the scenes that needed to feel completely real and in your face.
It's no wonder that the upcoming Jurassic World, with all of the modern technology at its disposal, is being compared unfavorably to the original when it comes to its effects and use of CGI. The tagline for Jurassic Park claimed it was a movie "65 million years in the making," and from its amazing application of special effects, we almost believe it.