National Gallery of Art
I wanted to add my thoughts to the Star Wars effects survey you cited in "Far-Reaching Effects" on pg. 6 of the July 2002 issue.
Readers chose Yoda as the best digital character "because he gains a greater range and subtlety of expression yet retains his original puppet-like appearance." Maybe you all should see a doctor. Yoda looked good, but compared to the puppet, there was no charm, no heart—just digital coldness. I wasn't seeing Yoda on screen—I was seeing some computer-generated thing whose face was too animated to be Yoda's. It was no fun. Using a digital version of him during the fight scene at the end of the movie would have been enough.
You also refer to the "tall, doe-eyed Kaminoan cloners on the water planet, Kamino, because of their graceful movements and realistic clothing simulations." Those things looked like computer-generated imagery right from the start. They moved smoothly, agreed, but they looked just horrible.
One of the answers to your question, "Which were the most innovative action scenes?" was the fight between Obi-Wan and the bounty hunter Jango Fett on the planet Kamino. That fight would have been effective if the scene didn't feel as if it had been cut from 10 minutes down to 5. In fact, the cutting and the photography for that scene were so bad, it was hard to know where the characters were at any given moment.
Then you asked "Which were the most innovative settings or environments?" to which readers responded: The droid factory on Geonosis; the clone center on Kamino; Dex's Diner; the Jedi library...." The droid factory? You couldn't see anything with all that bad editing. It was simply bad and boring. Dex's Diner? I don't know about the setting, but Dex himself was about the worst effect in Episode I and II combined. Even Jar-Jar Binks looks better! The Jedi library looked pretty good, but you could still see the CGI background in every frame.
And last, I wanted to respond to the question "What role did digital effects play in the film?" Readers answered, "Essentially, the visual effects were the film." I agree with this: Take the effects out and there's no film left. Consider the original trilogy, in which effects supported the film. The movie Lord of the Rings: Fellowship of the Ring merged great characters and fantastic effects. The changes between real and CGI imagery in that film were flawless. Then there's Star Wars: Episode II—cold, sterile, and with every computer graphics shot visible.
I'm a huge Star Wars fan, but I was so disappointed by Episode II that it will be hard for me to enjoy the old trilogy again. The people who made the film shouldn't be proud of their effects because everything looked like an effect. That's not Star Wars, that's just effects overkill.
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