Total Recall: Proof that CGI is not the end of the world

Discussion in 'Archived Threads 2001-2004' started by Lou Sytsma, Sep 18, 2001.

  1. Lou Sytsma

    Lou Sytsma Producer

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    Well I just finished watching Total Recall last night.
    This was touted in the behind the scenes look as one of the last big budget nonCGI SFX movies.
    Many bash CGI for looking fake etc but after watching this movie I'm curious as opinions on the FX Total Recall used.
    To me the FX were quite obvious and could have easily been done better with CGI in most cases.
    How does everyone else feel? Comparing this to Phantom Menace - perhaps not fair - PM landscapes, buildings etc looked much more realistic than those of Total Recall.
    Total Recall definitely looks dated now in my opinion.
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  2. Bjorn Olav Nyberg

    Bjorn Olav Nyberg Supporting Actor

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    The other thing to consider though, is how the movie would have looked if it were produced in 1990 with CGI using the same budget and the equipment of those times. CGI, though it may still look fake, usually looked even worse back then. Most of the makeup in Total recall did indeed look fake, but I think it would look a lot worse in CGI. The sets etc looked great though.
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  3. Tom-G

    Tom-G Screenwriter

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    quote: Many bash CGI for looking fake etc but after watching this movie I'm curious as opinions on the FX Total Recall used.[/quote]
    Computer-generated images do not look any more fake than mattes. Keep in mind that CGI is essentially in its infancy. One of these days movies with extensive but awesome CGI like The Phantom Menace, are going to look dated. It's all relative.
    Bashing CGI isn't going to make it go away. It's a tool utilized to tell a story and has been the next step in filmmaking. I love it because like animation, it doesn't restrain filmmakers.
    As for the effects used in Total Recall I don't remember it being inferior to any other movie from that time frame, but I haven't watched it in quite some time.
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    [Edited last by Tom_G on September 18, 2001 at 08:40 AM]
    [Edited last by Tom_G on September 18, 2001 at 09:29 AM]
     
  4. Michael Reuben

    Michael Reuben Studio Mogul

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    I still remember seeing Total Recall when it first appeared in theaters. Some of the effects were unconvincing even then, particularly the fake heads used for scenes like Arnold's removal of the bug and the near-suffocations at the end. But the Mars scenery was the most convincing work I'd ever seen up to that time.
    By its very nature, effects work tends to date. That's why the films that hold up are the ones with characters and stories that continue to engage long after the effects themselves have been rendered quaint (my personal example is Jason and the Argonauts, but I'm sure there are others).
    M.
    [Edited last by Michael Reuben on September 18, 2001 at 08:56 AM]
     
  5. Matt_Stevens

    Matt_Stevens Supporting Actor

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    At the time, the FX in Total Recall were state of the art and as good as or better than anything that came before it. The film won an Oscar for the FX and deserved it. It's only logical than 11 years later, things have changed.
    I still hate CGI when used improperly, like in The MUMMY RETURNS, where every shot had some cartoonish looking CGI that was so clearly fake, it took the audience right out of the movie. Some shots resulted in outright laughter!
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  6. Neil S. Bulk

    Neil S. Bulk Screenwriter

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  7. Mark_Wilson

    Mark_Wilson Screenwriter

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    This really was a big budget flick?
    The effects have always looked fake to me. In fact, when I first saw it, I just assumed it was a low budget movie.
     
  8. Matt_Stevens

    Matt_Stevens Supporting Actor

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    It would have cost twice as much, but the director (we all know his name) was a maniac who kept the thing running like a train at top speed. He was hired because ROBOCOP was done for next to nothing, but looked so expensive.
    I think Total Recall, despite the flaws with the FX, is a terrific action gore fest. Good script. Good actors. Great action. Fantastic score (one of Golsmith's bst).
    But that stupid DVD packaging has kept me away.
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  9. Michael Reuben

    Michael Reuben Studio Mogul

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  10. Jussi Tarvainen

    Jussi Tarvainen Second Unit

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    In my opinion, gore effects should never be CG. Long live KNB and Rob Bottin!
     
  11. Ben_J_L

    Ben_J_L Stunt Coordinator

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    I must say that Rob Bottin is one of the strangest guys i have ever seen after watching the making of The Thing.
    CGI I feel is a mixed bag, when used properly it looks fantastic - to me the shots of the T-Rex in Jurrassic Park still look amazing, yet when I saw The Phantom Menace, that big end battle with those things on the ground looked awful, really obvious CGI, the worst part of the whole film - yuk.
     
  12. Jefferson Morris

    Jefferson Morris Supporting Actor

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    To me, the effects in Total Recall are a mixed bag. The Mars-scapes, while impressive in their detail, didn't quite put across the sense of scale to me. They looked like well-done, fairly sizable models. Still cool, but not entirely convincing.
    I'm a big fan of Rob Bottin's work (his creature FX in the 19-year old The Thing remake have yet to be bested for their sheer grand guignol inventiveness, IMO). I think his stuff holds up pretty well (And hopefully one of these days DVD fans may get to revisit his wonderful work in Legend as well, which is about as good as anything I've seen recently.)
    Of course the best thing about Total Recall are all those juicy squibs...if you're into that sort of thing. As for the movie itself, well...I still wish Cronenberg had gotten to do it.
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  13. steve jaros

    steve jaros Second Unit

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    Total Recall, technical effects flaws aside, is a hell of a good action film. Much better than almost any "state of the art" CGI action film anyone could name...
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  14. Lou Sytsma

    Lou Sytsma Producer

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    True Steve but it's the technical merits I'm interested in hearing opinions about.
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  15. Tim Kline

    Tim Kline Stunt Coordinator

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    I just watched Total Recal.. and yeah the effects do look dated in a lot of parts.. but then it's not a recent movie [​IMG] I think they did a great job with the effects for when the movie came out [​IMG]
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  16. Jason_Els

    Jason_Els Screenwriter

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    As I recall (pardon that), when "Total Recall" came out, the Martian landscapes were re-creations of actual geodetic surveys of the Martian surface so that the shot of Mars' landscapes were, in fact, actual places that exist on Mars.
    Anyone remember this?
    Thanks
    Jason
     
  17. Dave Hahn

    Dave Hahn Second Unit

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    I think they spent the most time and effort on the Mars landscapes and the mutants. Both of which look good to me. I also think the sets were well done, especially the alien machine. I agree about Arnold's head when he removes the bug, they should have shot and edited that a little better. The train is also a poor f/x shot.
    As others have said, this is a great action/sci-fi film. One of the reasons for this is that the special effects only support the story, unlike other, newer flicks where the special effects are the story.
    I agree with Michael Reuben, sci-fi films, "with characters and stories that continue to engage long after the effects themselves have been rendered quaint." The example I would offer is The Time Machine.
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  18. Philip Verdieck

    Philip Verdieck Second Unit

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    I just got it last night and watched the movie, and the bit about that guy who is in charge of the Mars probes (virtual tour?).
    I was dissapointed not to find deleted scenes. I am a deleted scenes freak.
    I think the effects are fine for that day and age. Except the suffocation scene at the end. Mars has an atmosphere, so noone will ever convince me your eyes will start to pop out like they depicted.
     
  19. Inspector Hammer!

    Inspector Hammer! Executive Producer

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    CGI is being abused waaay too much now days! Every director is convinced that CGI looks COMPLETLY real, look at the 'Making of Documentary' on Deep Blue Sea and you'll hear Renny Harlin say somehing to the effect, and i'm paraphrasing ear "You can't tell what is a real shark and what is a computer generated shark.", OH PLEASE, I can spot a CGI shark a mile away in that film! This is typical thinking.
    But, when done right, when done to serve the story being told, and most importantly, when it's invisable, it has no equal in movie making.
    But as far as Total Recall goes, I agree with most above that shots like that train, obviously a model, didn't scale right, and those fake Arnold heads, especially when he's on Mars and his fat woman mask comes off in sections and he lifts it over his head, LOOK AT THAT RIDICULOUS ARNOLD HEAD! But, this is one of the best sci-fi films out thier, and Arnold was at his prime here, so i'll always love it. Bottom line, sometimes CGI is called for, and sometimes it's not, the problem is Hollywood now days can't seem to realize when it's not and use it for everthing when practical effects would be far more convincng.
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