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C'mon, Hollywood! Quit using computer generated blood effects!

11.05.2013

Nitpicking a film is something that I honestly don't enjoy doing. I hate to ruin a good movie for myself by hating on the small things, but something I always have a difficult time overlooking is computer generated blood effects. While I wouldn't say CGB has ever been the deciding factor on whether a movie was good or not, the fact is when it's used (and noticeable) it takes away from the power of individual scenes, which does end up hurting the movie, overall. 

When bloody violence is put into a film, I feel it's for one of four purposes: realism, humor, shock value, or spectacle. Unlike heavily computer generated landscapes and characters, violence isn't limited by genre. The realistic and intense violence in a dramatic film like SAVING PRIVATE RYAN reaches the same intended effect as a more comedic action film like DJANGO UNCHAINED. Both films are very bloody, but are completely different tonally. Both use practical blood effects, which enhance the desired feel of the movie's mood. Seeing the graphic carnage of WWII was made much more intense with the lifelike blood effects. In DJANGO, the violence was more exaggerated and over the top, but with Tarantino using powerful squibs and blood effects it made it seem more realistic. Had they used CGI blood in either of those films, the would have lost the feel completely. 

That said, I can understand that some filmmakers prefer the "technique" of using CGB. With practical blood effects, things are bound to get messy and/or go wrong (not to mention a heavy cleanup from one take to the next). As in every case, there are exceptions to the rule. Take 300 for example. It’s a heavily stylized movie that uses computer-generated effects in nearly every shot. The CGB not only belonged, but enhanced the film and gave it an artistic feel all its own. Director David Fincher used CGB in ZODIAC, however measurements were taken to ensure that the blood looked as realistic as possible. The use of CGB not only saved him time setting up shots and multiple takes, but he was able to get exactly what he wanted.

Again, it doesn't matter what genre it's found in, whenever CGB is badly utilized, it takes away from the intended reaction. How much more brutal would this scene have been from HOT FUZZ had they not used any computer enhanced blood effects? Obviously, it was supposed to be graphic, shocking and completely rooted in dark humor, but here, it comes off as a little dopey. There are dozens of instances in WATCHMEN, but one of the more distracting scenes is this little number. What should’ve been a visceral, eye-shielding scene was ruined by computer-generated dismemberment. MIDNIGHT MEAT TRAIN is another example. Sure, the gore effects looked neat, but when a horror movie shows blood that’s so obviously fake, I'm more inclined to feel disappointed instead of disturbed and queasy.

Obviously, there are still films being made the right way with the good old-fashioned red stuff. EVIL DEAD heavily relied on practical effects and while there were some instances of obvious CGB, it was very little. While the movie isn't necessarily a favorite of mine, there's no denying how disturbingly effective the violence was. Movies like KICK-ASS and NINJA ASSASSIN should have taken the same route. The CG blood effects in those movies left a lot to be desired and while it wasn’t a make or break on the quality of the films, it lost all of its intended effects whenever a fake gush of blood flashed on screen. 

Of course, what's happening on screen to the actors isn't real, but if it appears to look real the suspension of disbelief is easier to suspend and I, as a moviegoer, will accept what I see. With all the advancements in technology, one would assume they would've gotten CGB down to a perfection at this point, but damn it if it doesn't look like complete dog shit and isn't hidden well at all whenever it's underutilized. Take THE EXPENDABLES (and its sequel) for example. The movie was advertised as a harkening back to the action films of the 80’s. While it locked down the appropriate actors, tone and feel for those old-school films, the brutality and badassness of the violence was lost since they took the CGB route. THE EXPENDABLES is rated R for strong action and bloody violence throughout, but God knows why. Where the violence should have been hard hitting and nasty, it just came across as looking cartoony and the blood spurts look like something that belong in a video game. If they had gone a little more gritty and realistic like ZODIAC did, maybe this crisis would have been averted.

So, C'mon, Hollywood! Don't take the lazy route of adding blood in post. Not only does it look shitty, but it also takes away from whatever feeling you want the audience to experience, be it horrific shock or an intense adrenaline rush. I get that it saves time and doesn't break the bank when it comes to corn syrup and squibs, but I think we've all seen enough films to know that the extra effort produces the best bloody results. 

Extra Tidbit: What's been the worst CGB utilized scene you've noticed?
Source: JoBlo.com

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