The horrible CGI in Twilight, this last one even more than others, is an insult.
I have a confession. I saw Twilight: Breaking Dawn Part II the other night. Yes, this means I’ve seen all the others. Can we move on, folks?
Here’s my point: How did they get away with doing it this cheaply? The acting was bad, the writing was bad… but none of that is nearly as offensive as the special effects. Wow. Did you guys get a load of this?
I’ll leave it to you to research if you seriously doubt me here.
So, first, we have Renesmee, Edward and Bella’s child who grows rapidly. We get, let’s say, three or four looks at her. Baby. Toddler. Little kid and/or slightly taller kid (I feel like they changed a hair style there or something). Oh and some vague shots of future Renesmee. Sweet.
Regardless, for the Baby and Toddler version we get a screen cap of Renesmee as her older self. “Screen cap” is being pretty literal here. She’s got a human form that may or may not be played by a human, and we have a CGI face plastered over it. Its level of fake is quite astounding. They may well have been more convincing with a floating black oval.
There’s also moments of unthinkable greenscreening. Now, who knows if these were reshoots, making it hard to recreate everything, so they went with a greenscreen… irrellevent. It looks ridiculous.
Let’s talk numbers. Worldwide Box Office: $829 million. Budget: $120 million.
Now, these numbers come from Box Office Mojo. They don’t always have it right, you cry?
A Vulture article in 2011 said the budget for both parts of Breaking Dawn would be $263 million. Let’s use that number. But, if accounting for both films, that almost makes the discrepancy more blatant. That one made $712 million.
So both movies together cost $263 million but made a little more than $1.5 billion.
For comparison, The Dark Knight Rises cost $250 million and earned about $1.1 billion.
So, again, the TWO Twilight films it took to close the series cost about as much as The Dark Knight Rises, which is just one film, but earned about half a billion more. Say what you will about Rises, it’s no Twilight.
Now, I don’t really blame the studios here. Not that much. They probably figured that no one would call them on it. Their demographic didn’t come for the effects, they came for the romance. Well, how much did the romance cost? Not that much. And you didn’t get much of your money’s worth.
It’s really the casual fans I blame. They endorsed an insult. You don’t get numbers like that from book fans alone. You get it from word of mouth. When a movie is produced so cheaply that it undermines the very fantastical things we’re meant to buy into, it should get bad word of mouth. We should not vote “yes” with our dollars.
Yeesh, it’s about here that I realize I spent money on this thing too. I could blame my wife, but I certainly agreed. And a part of me wanted to be done with it. I won’t lie, I sat through the first few with gritted teeth. But somewhere I shrugged and thought “at least it has fighting.” I’m not as action-hungry as some, but it gave me something to look at.
So then they water those effects down to the level of the Matrix sequels, and I’m on the hook to rent the last one. Somewhere along the line, one of us should have turned to the other and said “just stop biting the hook!”
They knew the production level they could get away with, and they just barely skated by that bar. Frankly, I’ve seen that a lot. Green Lantern looked ungodly fake. Pretty much any of the Fantastic Four movies are garbage.
And then there are things like Stardust by Neil Gaiman. Hated that movie. Loved the book. They didn’t seem as interested in adapting the book as they were in taking the ball and running. They knew they’d get the book crowd. Meh. Maybe some other people too if we put Robert De Niro in it.
Can we all just agree to call these movies what they are? Quick and easy adaptations. Even the greatest filmmakers need enough money to pull the story off. And I’d rather more nurtured movies and less slapdash, if I have a choice.
While we’re at it, I’d also rather never seeing a baby’s face CGI’d on.