It has become a trend this year for some big blockbusters to underdeliver. The Flash recently became one of the biggest box office bombs in history due in part to bad word of mouth. Recent other would-be tentpoles like Ant Man: Quantumania and Shazam! Fury of the Gods have also received little praise and suffered worse-than-expected returns.
There may be many reasons for these lower box office numbers, but one of those reasons is that the CGI in these movies has left audiences disappointed. As more and more big budget movies are made, the CGI houses are being overwhelmed. Fast turnaround times and increasing reliance on CGI has led to some sequences and settings looking subpar on the big screen. The Flash came under heavy criticism for its CGI – which objectively looked off – and Ant Man: Quantumania ended up with that mucky purple CGI sky that I just…don’t love.
Enter Mission Impossible: Dead Reckoning Part One and Christopher Nolan’s new film, Oppenheimer. Nolan and MI:7 director Christopher McQuarrie are both famous for their love of practical effects. Instead of creating entire sequences and settings on a green screen, these filmmakers film largely on-location.
While they may use CGI here and there to accentuate the action, the settings in the Mission Impossible movies, or Nolan’s recent films like Tenet or Dunkirk, are real… and it shows on the big screen. Instead of greyish purple CGI skies, the cameras in McQuarrie and Nolan’s films are capturing the real skies above Rome or New Mexico, and it feels so much more transporting as an audience member.
In the CGI-heavy movies that have come lately, I have been constantly stuck thinking about the fact that I am watching a movie. But when I’m watching Dead Reckoning or Oppenheimer, I can get immersed in the experience, making longer runtimes go by in a blink and allowing me to really feel the movies and their messages. To me, that’s what big, bombastic filmmaking is truly all about, and McQuarrie and Nolan are masters of it.
Mission Impossible: Dead Reckoning Part One and Oppenheimer are now playing in theaters.
I’m Evan Rook.