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Top 10 Best and Worst Practical Effects in Movie History

Johnathan Paul

Are practical effects making a comeback? Let’s take a look at some of the amazing highs and laughable lows from the history of practical effects.

Practical effects have been around since the dawn of cinema. Legendary French filmmaker Georges Méliès, considered by some to be the father of special effects, was one of the first visionary artists to create cinema sorcery with tactile objects. Can you imagine how mind-blowing it must have been to see the mechanically operated scenery and stop tricks of A Trip to the Moon in 1902? 

(Sorta) Gone but (Mostly) Not Forgotten

Practical effects reached an early apex with films such as 2001 A Space Odyssey and The Empire Strikes Back. These days, filmgoers are seeing fewer practical effects make their way into the final cuts of films. Long gone are the days of successfully blending practical and digital like in Jurassic Park and Lord of the Rings. Instead, the studios are opting to augment (and in many cases completely replace) practical effect shots with digitally composited CGI effects. But there is hope for fans of practical effects.

The new Star Wars trilogy will be showcasing far more practical effects than the Prequels. And George Miller is employing traditional practical effects and stunts in Mad Max: Fury Road, as he spoke about in this piece with Entertainment Weekly:

You want to have that sort of almost, I’m not going to say documentary experience, but you want to feel it like you’re really immersed, like it’s really happening. So we decided to literally do every car that’s smashed is smashed, every stunt is a real human being, even the actors do a lot of their own stunts, and so on.

So, it looks like we could be entering a new Golden Age of blending practical and digital effects. In order to understand what manner of movie magic we might encounter in the years ahead, let’s take a look at WatchMojo’s Top 10 Best and Worst Practical Effects in Film History.

Top 10 Best Practical Effects

Top 10 Worst Practical Effects

Why Do Filmmakers Shy Away Away from Practical Effects in the First Place?

Amalgamated Dynamics, Inc has a long history of practical effects work, having won the Academy Award for best visual effects on the film Death Becomes Her. In this video, founders (and Stan Winston alumni) Tom Woodruff Jr. and Alec Gillis discuss the reasoning behind Hollywood’s habit of replacing practical effects in current films. This video was posted by Andyfilms with the permission of Tom Woodruff Jr.

Want to see more about practical effects? Then check out these additional articles from PremiumBeat.

What are your thoughts on the current CGI trend? Are you missing the use of practical effects? Give us your thoughts in the comments below.

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