20 CGI Classics - From T2 to Batman Begins to WALL-E

We pick 20 films that employed Pixar's renderer.

20 Years of Renderman - Toy Story

The highest grossing feature film of all time may be largely dismissed these days as a schmaltzy love story, but it made a huge - titanic, some might say - impact upon its release in 1997. From the realistic recreation of the ship itself to scores of computer-generated victims bouncing all over the capsizing superliner, Titanic's innovations set a new standard for what CG could do. With two places on our list, we're very excited to see what James Cameron does with Avatar.

Comments

stevegilpin

Steven Gilpin

Harry Potter and the Philosopher's Stone?
Okay, Rotten Tomatoes, PUT THE BONG DOWN!!!!!

Aug 11 - 10:17 AM

fartymagee

elijah j

Maybe you should put your bong down and you glasses on so you can read the list

Aug 11 - 12:00 PM

imhavingwensbaby

Bryan Green

Harry Potter and the Philosopher's Stone was the English name of Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone.

Aug 19 - 07:55 PM

vine-ripe790

josh clark

"Harry Potter and the Philosopher's Stone" is the UK title for "Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone"

Aug 20 - 08:35 AM

BauerPower24

Jason Enos

That IS the ORIGINAL title of the book... it was changed from Philosopher to Sorcerer when imported to America.

Aug 21 - 02:04 PM

BauerPower24

Jason Enos

That IS the ORIGINAL title of the book... it was changed from Philosopher to Sorcerer when imported to America.

Aug 21 - 02:04 PM

thanatopsis70

Jim Hassel

RT got the name of the original novel correct. RT does say "adaptation of." The name was changed for the U.S. novel, and movie adaptation.

Aug 22 - 02:43 AM

Grey Home

G Mac

This whole feature is written in the UK, you know, where JK Rowling is from, and where the book is titled "Harry Potter and the Philosopher's Stone."

Aug 22 - 10:53 AM

Grey Home

G Mac

This whole feature is written in the UK, you know, where JK Rowling is from, and where the book is titled "Harry Potter and the Philosopher's Stone."

Aug 22 - 10:54 AM

Grey Home

G Mac

This whole feature is written in the UK, you know, where JK Rowling is from, and where the book is titled "Harry Potter and the Philosopher's Stone."

Aug 22 - 10:57 AM

Dups Mckracken

Ethan S

what is wrong with the philosopher's stone? a) it wasn't in the list (it was the prioner of azkaban) b) the philopher's stone is the actual name for the sorceror's stone,which is the american name of the book/movie...

Aug 22 - 05:53 PM

FutureStunner

Nick Odendahl

Thats what the book is called in England

Aug 22 - 09:46 PM

afarmer

ashley f

That's the original British title of the book/movie. It was changed to Sorcerer's Stone when HP was published in America.

Aug 29 - 10:06 AM

mouse_clicker

Eric Baker

Thank you so much for including Sunshine on the list. It was my second favorite movie of last year (behind Ratatouille), and was criminally overlooked. One of the few science fiction films to have extraordinary CG visuals and then the depth and content to back it all up.

Aug 11 - 10:19 AM

HollywoodJack

Corey Michaud

i agree that Sunshine was visually beautiful and had a very good first half but I think the film was ruined in the second half. It turned into a slasher film. I guess we just disagree though.

Aug 11 - 10:30 AM

arendr

Arend Anton

I disagree on Gladiator. I've always had a problem with the CG in that movie. Even when I first saw it in the theater, I thought Rome looked terrible. I like the movie, but the CG wasn't even good for its time.

Glad to see Sunshine and Batman Begins on here. Those are 2 movies that used CG as it's meant to be used.

Aug 11 - 11:03 AM

Tlin82180

Thomas Lin

Surprised Transformers didn't make it.

I was severly dissappointed with the movie and its failure to bring back the magic of the cartoon.

But I can't deny the CG recreation of the robots was pretty cool. But whatever.

Aug 11 - 11:28 AM

fartymagee

elijah j

Maybe you should put your bong down and you glasses on so you can read the list

Aug 11 - 12:00 PM

astrangefish

Andrew Strange

I disagree. If Beowulf, Day After Tomorrow and Attack of the Clones really did have stunning visuals then i would have been able to enjoy them on some level.
P.S. I'm sorry dude, if you think the robots in Transformers were good effects (small empty car transforming into gigantic chunky robot-said robot could have used said car for a hat or codpiece) when a CAR ADVERT had much better transforming effects years before, you are nuts.

Aug 11 - 12:51 PM

Joe_12345

Joe Wilson

Beowulf had easily among the most stunning CGI of all time, hands down, you're in the vast minority in thinking otherwise

Aug 21 - 09:40 AM

Scorchy

Scott Bennett

Gladiator absolutely doesn't belong. The CGI was obvious and Rome itself looked absolutely horrible.

If you want to see an effective recreation of Rome that doesn't take center-stage, watch HBO's "Rome."

Aug 11 - 12:56 PM

CoUcH ToMaToE DoUgIe

Shawn Amoroso

its amazing no matter how beautiful every Pixar film is, their

stories always leave the lasting memory. Thank you, Pixar for revolutionizing

the filming world. If only you could write the stories for some of these

idiot filmakers who constantly waste great opportunities. Still, i wish you

R.T. guys tarted with the Abyss, pretty amazing in every way in my opinion.

Still, big kudos for Cameron for making films that always impress us visually

and for the most part his story telling is pretty fantastic as well. You

know one of the films I think doesn't belong on this list is Begins. I loved

it and all, just don't think of it as a landmark film in Renderman effects.

If any superhero film belongs on this list because of impressive Renderman

effects, I would suggest Spider-man 2 or even Superman Returns more than

Begins. And I agree with, astrangefish, Transformers should never be on any

list of achievement, including visual effects. Not saying it wasn't grand

but thanks to the idiotic camera direction of Bay, any achievement is lost.

Aug 11 - 01:51 PM

Tmurph824

Tim Nurphy

You are amazingly stupid.

Dec 14 - 09:32 PM

trgdr777

C Ferguson

I wouldn't include Gladiator, The Day After Tomorrow, or War of the Worlds. None of those were very convincing for their time in my opinion.

I think Transformers deserves it (if we're basing this list on special effects rather than acting or storytelling) because few people realize how hard it is to make something animated look convincingly large. Plus I can only imagine how many reflections they had to worry about.

Also, even though I didn't like the Pirates sequels very much, I thought Davey Jones was a really cool (mostly) CG character.

Aug 11 - 02:12 PM

Warheart1188

Tim Higginbotham

Where's Tranformers???!!! That's a CGI masterpiece! (and that's the only thing that movie has going for it)

They should replace Final Fantasy: Spirits Within with the much better FF VII: Advent Children.

And honestly, Gladiator? The Day After Tomorrow?? Come on! They should've put the 2nd Pirates of the Caribbean movie instead of the first because Davy Jones is the most realistic CG character I've ever seen. Batman Begins? Not too much CGI there. Gotham was built on a set, not a computer. They used CGI sparsely.

The Spider-Man series has some great CGI. Why weren't any of those there?? Hell, I don't care what anybody thinks of the Hulk movies, but that's a damn good looking CGI Hulk they've used.

Aug 11 - 02:52 PM

FullMelson

Charles melson

Glad to see my favorite action film of all time made #1...seriously if you go back and look at T2 today it still holds up and the movie is nearly 20 years old.

And while I understand that here on RT all thing Nolan must be praised you've got to be kidding me by adding Begins to this list the effects were on par with most done today and there was nothing revolutionary CGI wise in the film.

Either of the Spiderman films would have been a more deserving choice as you
you couldn't have truly realized the charater without those scenes of him swinging through the city...not to mention the fight between Spidey and Doc Ock was one of the best uses of CGI in years.

Aug 11 - 02:53 PM

TombstoneLawDog

Daniel Klein

I agree on the Transformers bit. I thoroughly enjoyed that and was righteously P*SSED when f#cking 'Golden Compass' won for best visuals (!?!?!?!) at the Oscars.

Nice list. I'm glad they didn't try to put a 'ranking' order on it. That would've killed the whole thing.

Aug 11 - 02:55 PM

Doctor Spud

Doctor Spud

I totally agree! Transformers beat The Golden Compass fair and square.

Aug 14 - 12:02 PM

Doctor Spud

Doctor Spud

I totally agree! Transformers beat The Golden Compass fair and square.

Aug 14 - 12:03 PM

Racer Z

Shannon Potratz

"Unfortunately his sense of storytelling had clearly falled off the tracks by that point."

Falled?

You know, if you're going to degenerate into yet another anti-Lucas tirade regarding his script-writing and sense of storytelling, it might do your credibility well to at least know how to write yourself.

Not to mention the fact that every film on this list owes a debt to Lucas and ILM's R&D. At least attempt to show SOME respect!

Aug 11 - 02:58 PM

vitajex

Mike M

Firstly, respect was shown by including Lucas' film on the list.

As far as not being able to criticize...

I can't carve a canoe out of a tree, but if someone else does and it sinks? I think I have a right to say the canoe stank.

Aug 11 - 03:14 PM

LiquidPZA

Shaun Pitz

Actually, for a time, Pixar's base group WAS Lucasfilm's CG R&D department. Lucas just didn't share the vision of computer graphics making an impact in films. He had them create sound and film editing systems instead. He then made the brilliant move of selling the group to Steve Jobs for five million dollars. ILM was more or less a practical effects company at the time. So in the end, it's Lucas who owes an apology to Ed Catmull and the rest of Pixar's original group of brilliant minds, certainly not the other way around.

Aug 18 - 12:55 AM

Superzone

Link O'Fett

Well said. Lucas seriously doesn't deserve all the crap he gets. It pisses me off.

Aug 19 - 07:41 PM

jedidrummer

Rob B

This was a fantastic list and fun read. Thanks guys. I'm glad that Star Wars made the list (though how could it not have) and BIG SURPRISE it came with a completely undeserving and over used cliche in the form of knocking Lucas and the prequels! Hooray! Oh wait....that's a bunch of malarky :P

I agree that Transformers is a humongous oversight. Maybe the biggest oversight I can think of. And thank god for Sunshine making it holy crap! Best surprise ever! But I do appreciate the ability to include films you maybe didn't like. It shows you were impartial and true to the nature of the list good form RT!

Aug 9 - 01:24 AM

vitajex

Mike M

Final Fantasy VII: Advent Children is quite a bit better than The Spirits Within.

How could we possibly overlook the original, the first film to ever feature extensive use of CGI? The grand-daddy of ALL CGI films?

"Tron"

Aug 11 - 03:01 PM

LiquidPZA

Shaun Pitz

Because TRON didn't use Pixar's Renderman software.

Aug 18 - 12:43 AM

banditwhore

carl latin

a good point, but the list only includes the graphics engine that pixar developed, which came out years after tron was released.

Aug 19 - 09:02 PM

banditwhore

carl latin

a good point, but the list only includes the graphics engine that pixar developed, which came out years after tron was released.

Aug 19 - 09:04 PM

Goldhill

D Talbot

Because this is a list of films which used Renderman technology? Tron didn't as far as I know.

Re: Lord of The Rings. As impressive as FOTR and ROTK were I think the really ground-breaking work was the rendering of Gollum in The Two Towers. That film really showed how a CGI character could be an integral part of the narrative and interact fully with human actors. It also helped erase the nasty taste left by Jar Jar Binks. For that at least we should all be thankful.

Aug 20 - 01:11 PM

dalonoman

Perry Anderson

Get rid of Gladiator, and put Transformers on (yes the movie itself was trash- but I thought the CG absolutley saved it- imagine the movie with half *** CG- Think about it... think about it.... terrible isn't it?)

Aug 11 - 03:04 PM

rle4lunch

Chad W

I think that the War of the Worlds storm scenes were terrific. Much moreso than NYC frozen. As for Harry Potter, the only one of those that have impressed me (only slightly though) was the most recent one released. The fight scene at the end was quite stunning.

Aug 11 - 03:09 PM

vitajex

Mike M

Final Fantasy VII: Advent Children is quite a bit better than The Spirits Within.

How could we possibly overlook the original, the first film to ever feature extensive use of CGI? The grand-daddy of ALL CGI films?

"Tron"

Aug 11 - 03:11 PM

vitajex

Mike M

Firstly, respect was shown by including Lucas' film on the list.

As far as not being able to criticize...

I can't carve a canoe out of a tree, but if someone else does and it sinks? I think I have a right to say the canoe stank.

Aug 11 - 03:14 PM

Joe Utichi

Joe Utichi

Racer Z: Oops, I'd like to say the n and the d keys are quite close to each other, but I think this is a case of writing too quickly and missing it on the read-through. It should, of course, read "fallen."

As for our anti-Lucas tirade, it's more a fun pop at the general impression most have of the prequel trilogy - of course Pixar wouldn't even exist were it not for Lucas' first steps so there's no doubting his contribution.

Though, let's be honest, the critics of Lucas' writing have very little to say about his spelling or grammar...

FullMelson: Please note, while Terminator would appear to be at number one, this is actually a chronological list. We didn't want to play favourites, particularly given how much innovation there's been in this industry over these last 20 years, so instead we chose to simply list the films by year so you can get a sense of that evolution. Though we also didn't choose one movie from each year, preferring instead to choose multiple movies from some years.

Re: Batman Begins - We really wanted to choose a superhero movie that used its CG sparingly. Spider-Man, The X-Men and Superman Returns all feature very powerful visuals, and it was a toss up, honestly, between Spider-Man and Begins, but for this particular item we wanted to showcase a film that didn't overdo the CG and yet was still able to tell a story on the scale demanded of a superhero movie.

It's funny that Gladiator and Batman Begins seem to be the sticking points, though, as they're both of our examples of movies that use CG effectively but sparingly. I know some have criticised the quality of the CG in both movies, but we really wanted to include on the list movies that weren't purely CG effects driven and, at least in my opinion, the work of both of those movies was pretty exceptional.

Re: Transformers - the robots looked great, but given that we already had Beowulf, Kong, Harry Potter 3 and War of the Worlds I wonder if we don't already have quite an exhibit of big-screen monsters, which the Transformers are but metal versions of, after all...

Perhaps Beowulf could have retired its place for Michael Bay's noise factory, though...

Aug 11 - 03:30 PM

jokerboy1991

jack giroux

No 2001?!??!?!?!?!?NO SIN CITY!?!??!?!?!?!?! I dont think War of The Worlds or Gladiator should be on the list, good special effects but nothing great. Yeah Transformers is defantely not a great movie but a pretty good one with dazzling effects.SIN CITY should definately be on the list, those effects created a whole new world.

Aug 11 - 03:46 PM

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