Ha ha ha ha, where’s the beef. Hi-larious.
I’ve been a bit too into Little House on the Prairie lately because of the Hallmark channel. It’s a good show if you’ve never seen it. Start from the original made-for-TV pilot if you do get into it. I’ve never read the books (which start at Little House in the Big Woods), but I have a feeling that after the pilot episode, the show and the books had very little to do with each other. But that’s okay.
I may be looking at this through kid glasses, but it seems like everything made before the year 2000 was just plain better. In the 70′s, we had many good television shows and films that defined their genres. Most people saw Star Wars, for example, for the first time when they were children or teenagers. I had the privilege of waiting until I had already acquired a taste for films of decent quality in my lower to mid 20′s. There isn’t a large number of movies I like, and I’m certainly not the type to absorb everything of a particular genre. But when I watched the trilogy for the very first time, I was extremely impressed. The quality of the effects were almost all up to par with a more modern film.
Then came the 80′s. The quality of filming became about as good as it would ever get with 1985′s Back to the Future. While the special effects and future history were a bit lacking in my opinion, the quality of the visual and audio were very near peak, and no better actors have come out of Hollywood since then. You could tell the difference between the visual attractiveness of this film compared to 1982′s Terminator which seemed much less appealing.
But then came 1991′s Terminator 2. Again we’re brought to a new level of special effects that the industry has hardly seen before. We also see CGI leaping onto the scene with the one thing it’s perfect at making — a liquid metal robot (and very little else that I could see.) Couple this film with Jurassic Park, and this was a time when as much as possible was done with the use of miniatures, real sets and animatronics while using CGI only when absolutely necessary.
1999 saw a great new SF film, The Matrix. You could say it was east meets west with an anime-style kung fu story in a high-tech virtual world. While the sequels didn’t live up to the novelty of the original, it did seem like one of the last great special effects films.
Maybe I’m old, but nowadays it seems like everything has been replaced with CGI. Films that use things like miniatures, real sets, animatronics, traditional animation, claymation, stuntmen and the like are few and far between. They still exist, mind you, but are outnumbered greatly by the use of computers. I really felt like The Hulk and its sequal were a very poor use of CGI. Others have claimed to me that CGI looks absolutely real, but to me, I can see its irregular cartoon-like movement in the real-world setting and the whole thing just feels like I’m watching Who Framed Roger Rabbit.
Of course, then we come full circle to Lucas again and the new Star Wars movies. I saw Episode 1 through kid eyes and liked the character of Jar Jar when I was younger. As I got older and more crotchety, the CGI really annoyed me, how his character looked like a cartoon shoved into a real world. It’s the same for Gollum of The Lord of the Rings and other characters in other films. There’s a good chance they could have been portrayed more realistically using animatronics, or, heck, even puppets.
But I’m probably just crotchety.