With the release of DC's The Flash, the conversation about CGI quality in big-budget blockbusters is once again a hot topic. Movie studios have a multitude of tasks to complete in order to finalize a film. Budgets are often slashed, and deadlines are frequently pushed up, resulting in some aspects not being as polished as they could be.
One area that is particularly susceptible to these constraints is visual effects (VFX). While the aim is for CGI to be subtle and seamlessly integrated into the film, poor CGI is hard to miss. Unfortunately, this seems to be the case with DC's The Flash, which has recently hit theaters.
In a recent interview with Gizmodo, director Andy Muschietti and producer Barbara Muschietti have finally shed light on the peculiar CGI effects in their latest project. Surprisingly, they revealed that the intention behind the unrealistic appearance of the babies in one particular scene was entirely deliberate. Barbara, with a hint of humor, addressed the odd and animated visuals, saying:
"No, we used all real babies."
To explain the uncanny CGI, and why it looked so weird and off, Andy then explained:
"The idea, of course, is...we are in the perspective of the Flash. Everything is distorted in terms of lights and textures. We enter this 'waterworld' which is basically being in Barry's POV. It was part of the design, so if it looks a little weird to you, that was intended."
Disclaimer: Spoilers ahead.
Where does The Flash falter?
In the film, Ezra Miller portrays Barry Allen, the eponymous Flash, who possesses the ability to run at incredible speeds. Realistically depicting superhuman speed is a challenging task, since it is physically impossible.
When the Flash reaches a state known as "The Speed Force," everything becomes a blur. However, when he surpasses even that and enters "The Chrono Bowl," the quality of the effects takes a downturn. It is then that the film's human characters, other than Barry himself, appear noticeably off, as if the filmmakers didn't get an opportunity to refine the VFX.
One specific sequence stands out as particularly flawed, occurring at the beginning of the film. While waiting for a sandwich, Barry receives a call and rushes to Gotham City to assist Ben Affleck's Bruce Wayne in preventing a hospital building from collapsing.
During this rescue attempt, a group of babies, along with their midwife, plummet to what would have been a disastrous fate. Unfortunately, the visual effects used to depict this scene do not hold up.
Addressing the criticisms, director Andy Muschietti clarified that the intentionally unrealistic CGI was a deliberate choice.
While some viewers may remain unconvinced after watching the film, the CGI issues do not detract from the overall enjoyment. Nevertheless, it is unfortunate that the distracting visuals were not addressed to a greater extent.
Prior to the film's release, preview clips circulated on Twitter, with many criticizing the subpar effects. Some suggested that the clips were incomplete and that the finished product would exhibit better CGI. However, it seems that this was not the case.
Some sequences, such as Supergirl's flight and the final battles, showcase impressive visual effects. However, other scenes, including Barry's high-speed running and certain multiverse cameos, appear comically poor.
While some viewers remain skeptical of Muschietti's explanation, labeling it an excuse, The Flash has generally received positive feedback from both audiences and critics. Despite the criticism of the CGI, the film has been praised for its other aspects.
The Flash was released on June 16, and is currently playing in theatres.